Her ‘musical awakening’

Photo by Christopher Huang.

Six years ago, Sabrina Rabello, a postdoctoral research associate for Northeastern’s Center for Complex Network Research, began playing the piano to escape from the “very introspective” world of applied mathematics.

But what began as an escape has blossomed into a professional avocation. Now a jazz singer-songwriter, Rabello has recorded two albums and played more than 40 gigs in five countries, including Spain, Holland, Britain, Brazil and the United States.

“I really felt like I needed to do something to express myself,” the songstress says. “The piano has been an incredible vessel through which I’m able to pour out my emotions in a positive way and connect with something bigger than myself.”

In 2008, Rabello won an online music competition held by SliceThePie, a financing platform for musicians and investors. Her $23,000 award financed her debut LP, “Beyond the Sea,” which was produced by jazz pianist Aaron Goldberg at The Acoustic Recording Studios in Brooklyn, N.Y., in June 2009.

The album can be purchased through iTunes or Amazon.

Of her unexpected victory over more than 1,000 aspiring artists, Rabello says, “I just wanted to have an idea of what people thought of my music.”

The self-taught musician, who says she “learned to sing in the shower,” grew up in a family of Flamenco artists in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Her mom quit her job as a lawyer to become a full-time dancer. Rabello, who plans to take a break from network science to study songwriting at the Berklee College of Music next fall, may follow in her footsteps.

As she puts it, “Science is so much a part of who I am, but I am also an artist and cannot see myself not writing and performing music at least more seriously than I have so far.”

The lyrical content on “Beyond the Sea” focuses on Rabello’s mounting existential crisis over choosing a career path and finding a permanent home. She has lived in London, Brazil, Switzerland and the United States.

“I had this musical awakening and now I’m trying place it within the rest of my life,” she says. “Who am I and what should I be?”

At least one thing is for sure: You won’t hear drum loops, synthesizers or audio effects on any of Rabello’s tracks, which, she says, “take a natural, back-to-the basics” approach to song production.

“I associate music with being alive and being human,” says Rabello, who has performed on a regular basis at The Beehive in Boston and the All Asia Bar in Cambridge. “There is something special about recording live and capturing that moment between the musicians.”