"Some songwriters' parents turned them on to cool stuff like Miles Davis," Koral said last week in a telephone interview. "My parents listened to Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond."
Fortunately, Koral was able to resist the insidiously seductive sounds. Scheduled to appear at The Liquid Lounge's songwriter performance series, The Writer's Hang, on Thursday night (May 4), Koral's mellifluous music is more akin to contemporary crooners like Sarah McLachlan and Emmylou Harris.
Originally from the Long Island suburbs, Koral attended Syracuse University where she studied television and film. After college, she planned to pursue a career in television and landed her first official job at Court TV.
"I worked on the Jeffrey Dahmer and William Kennedy Smith cases," Koral said. "You're not allowed to say the rape victims' names on TV, so my job was to hit a red button when the victims' names were said. I became known as the 'Red Button Girl.'"
Unfortunately, pushing buttons left Koral unfulfilled.
"People in television are so competitive, and they don't really have hobbies," said Koral. "I was always leaving work to go play gigs, and that was frowned upon. They wanted your blood sweat and tears."
So, three years ago, Koral quit the conventional working world, hooked up Suzanne Vega's former drummer Frank Vilardi and dedicated herself to music fulltime.
"It has taken three or four years, but I'm finally making a living," she said. "Now, when I go to the doctors office, I can write 'singer/songwriter' in the occupation section instead of 'customer service representative' or 'red button girl.' I'm really starting to see the fruits of my labor."
Not only has Koral just released her second CD entitled Joy, but she has had an original song air on the NBC drama Providence and has recently appeared on Oxygen, Oprah Winfrey's new cable station.
Like so many singer/songwriters, Koral uses her life as inspiration, particularly her liberation from her suburban background.
"It was a struggle to try and change the structure of my life," Koral said. "So, there's a lot of material there. And I also know a lot of deep, caring and crazy people with real problems so I also draw from that well as well."
And fortunately, Koral has no regrets.
"When you do something you love," she said, "you just stay young."
Bari Koral will perform at the Liquid Lounge (936 Park Ave., Hoboken) on Thursday, May 4 at 8:30 p.m. Also appearing will be Tom Freund from the Silos. For more information call 420-7989.