Mott Haven singer finds inspiration in life’s hardships

Lio O’liva poses for a photo. O’liva double leg amputee, maintains a positive, mindful attitude towards life and wants to spread his message through his upcoming album, Prosthetic Soul.
Photo courtesy of Lio O’liva

Mott Haven soul artist Lio O’liva plays the hand he was given and only cares to spread his positive message through his music to others.

O’liva was born in a small village in Honduras 24 years ago with a rare condition called Fibular Hemimelia.

“We had nothing and this surgeon from the West Coast drove miles and miles to see me and my mother,” O’liva said. “He said, ‘I’ll be back in three months,’ my mother had no reason to believe him.”

However, the Californian doctor did come back and brought O’liva and his mother to the golden coast.

O’liva had several operations done, involving double leg amputations, but in the following years, the disability would never put a stop to O’liva’s will to prosper and overcome.

Naturally, throughout his life, he was constantly asking himself, ‘why did this happen to me?’ and faced existential dilemmas.

He said he found solace as a child by watching movies, in particular, “Batman,” and found Bruce Wayne’s loss and struggle much like his own and like Batman, O’liva made a vow to himself to be the best person he could be.

At the age of 4, O’liva and his mother joined his father in New York, who was already a Mott Haven transplant.

His parents separated when he reached the age of 13, leaving O’liva, his siblings and mother to fend for themselves. He said a lot of his strength and resilience comes from his mother.

As a teenager, O’liva attended the Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music where he found his love for music and learned to play the piano, trumpet and guitar.

O’liva said his time at the music school saved him from the trouble that consumed the neighborhood around him.

He said before he jumped into creating music of his, he immersed himself into classics like Stevie Wonder, D’Angelo and Lauryn Hill.

Now armed with the knowledge and the ear for music he was looking to create, O’liva and his friends built a makeshift studio and started recording.

Songs from the album can be heard on Soundcloud with corresponding music videos on Lio O’liva’s Youtube channel.

O’liva started working on his album, Prosthetic Soul, in 2008, realizing he wanted to chase his dream instead of feeling regret later down the road for not doing what he truly loves and keeps him afloat.

Working with his producer Jeffrey Resto Jr., O’liva recorded the album in the Millbrook Projects and since has released several visuals on Youtube in the past year.

The official album release should be in the first week of March.

“I put a lot into it,” O’liva said. “I couldn’t have made this without the love of my mother, my friends, my producer.”

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