201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


IRISH PRIDE: Class of 2024

Family inspires senior Mia Healey to make music
Senior Mia Healey at home. She’s been playing guitar since she was 12. (Left photo courtesy of Mia Healey. Right photo by Angelique De La Cruz)

When Mia Healey, her twin brother Declan, and their younger sister Zoe were thinking about what to do for their mom’s birthday, they thought, “What’s better than showcasing our shared talent in music?” After all, the blame for having such good taste goes to their parents. The three siblings decided to surprise her by performing her favorite song by The Beatles and one of Paul McCartney’s most influential songs of his career, “The Long and Winding Road”. Declan was on guitar, and Mia and Zoe sang vocals, blending their voices to create the perfect performance.

“Mia should be more confident in performing in front of people,” her mom said. 

Mia’s family has at least 5 guitars, including a 12-string and a bass guitar. (Angelique De La Cruz)

Senior Mia Healey’s first instrument was the flute at age 11. She later added ukulele, guitar, bass, some mandolin, and some piano. Although she prioritized good grades, family, and friend time, Mia never put down the talent she was born to pursue. She joined the Triple Threat Arts Program at Ladera Vista Junior High and a women’s choir. She constantly strives to improve her musical ability. She recently resolved to learn to play more instruments that are commonly found in Irish music.

“It’s similar to how you can’t write folk music without a guitar. In Irish music, there’s always a violin,” Mia said, “and I have so many violin sections in my head.”

A couple of her biggest inspirations are Irish singer–songwriter Lisa Hannigan and solo artist and current Frames frontman Glen Hansard, who also starred in and produced the soundtrack for the musical Once (2007). 

But the root of her love of music comes from her father. And the passion didn’t just reach Mia, but her younger sister and twin brother too. 

Delusions of Grandeur (from left to right) Doc, Micky, Sparky and Thomas Healey. (Right) Thomas Healey performing with his band in Massachusetts. (Photos courtesy of Mia Healey)

Mia’s father Thomas Healey (vocals, guitar) founded the Massachusetts-based Irish rock band Delusions of Grandeur (1987–1994). Some of Delusions of Grandeur’s songs are available on YouTube, like “Carousel” (1989). Although the band is no longer active, Mia says that Thomas Healey still sings and plays almost daily. 

Mia’s mother also shared her favorite music with her children. They all love soul and R&B, and some of their favorite artists are Amy Winehouse, the Bee Gees, and Micheal Jackson. While she doesn’t play anymore, Mia’s mother used to play piano. “I remember finding a piano book of Lionel Richie songs she could play,” Mia said. 

Music has always been a crucial part of Mia’s life, occupying some of her fondest childhood memories. “I remember being young and my dad singing ‘More Than a Feeling’ by Boston in the car, and he said, ‘This is a great air guitar song,’” Mia said. 

The first song Mia ever wrote was for Girl Scouts, a program Mia has been a part of since kindergarten. To the melody of the theme of the television series The Addams Family, her dad helped her compose a song about Juliette Gordon Lowe, the founder of Girl Scouts. It remains the only musical project that father and daughter have collaborated on.

Besides Irish music, Mia appreciates the women of folk, and artists like Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, and German singer Sybille Baier. Mia covers Mitchell’s “Little Green” and Baez’s version of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe” and her original songs follow in these women’s footsteps. 

Mia’s favorite basslines to play are No Doubt’s cover of Talk Talk’s “It’s My Life,” Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and Micheal Jackson’s “Off the Wall.”

Although Mia’s home is extremely music oriented, and her family supports her talents, she keeps her songs private, closed away in notes and journals.

Mia prefers the nylon-stringed acoustic guitar. (Angelique De La Cruz)

“I’m rereading Picture of Dorian Gray, and at the very beginning, there’s this huge thing about how art is kind of useless,” Mia said. “[Basil] says, something like, ‘I can’t publish it, there’s too much of myself in this work.’ That’s kind of how I view my writing. There’s too much of me in it.”

She also has big shoes to fill. Her father started writing and playing at an age close to hers. “My dad’s such a good writer. It’s just so intimidating,” Mia said.

Mia has even considered releasing music under another name. “There’s this doll I had growing up called Sukoshi. It means ‘little bit,’” Mia said. “My white grandpa, that’s the only word he knew in Japanese. It means little and that’s why my mom named it, she tried teaching us Japanese growing up.”

Mia’s lyrics and poems are emotional. Inspired by Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Little Women (2019), she wrote “River,” where she sings about self liberty. In the song she independently defies the notion that women should prioritize marriage and familial relationships over their own dreams and careers. 

The following is an excerpt from Mia’s song “River”:

I can be whatever I want 

And not whatever you demand 

I’ve been so happy all on my own 

Without being anchored down to a man 

I’m running down the river 

And at my own pace I don’t need to run as fast as I can 

There will come a time and a place

But her lyrics aren’t just personal. She also writes about beauty around her. 

“I would consider myself more of a [classical] Romantic writer,” Mia said. “I love writing about nature, and I love writing about how that connects to people.”

Sometimes a song is biographical. “I was reading about [Vincent Van Gogh] for some reason, and I wrote a song about [him] because he was destined for tragedy,” Mia said.

He pleads, “There’s an illness running through my blood. Bleed me dry and bandage me up.”

He ponders, “Is there a place for me in line?”

Walking to Eternity’s gate where I don’t have to make any choices.

Someone else can decide my fate, and it’s all over.

There’s a pit in my stomach. Perfect for the head of a revolver.

Until she shared them with the Tribune, Mia hadn’t shared these lyrics.

Mia’s younger sister, Zoe Healey also plays guitar, and is even starting to write music of her own. “I just love that so much because I started writing my freshman year and now she is, so it’s kind of funny,” Mia said. 

Zoe Healey started learning guitar last year. She’s Fullerton’s Choir representative and is also on the thespian board. (Photos courtesy of Zoe Healey)

Recently, the two have been enjoying performing covers, and their favorite song to sing together is “Need You Now” by Lady A. 

Their opposite singing ranges create beautiful harmonies to perfect their favorite songs. 

“We always had music around, but we just experimented with different volumes,” Mia said.

Zoe added: “We sing together probably almost every day. Even when I’m at school all day for sports or rehearsals, usually when I get home we sing a little and then do our homework. So it’s meaningful. Cause she’s gonna go to college.” 

Music is the best way to bring people together, and that’s how the two are nurturing their relationship as sisters. Spending Mia’s last year at home before college they sing songs and bond through music, and hopefully a collaborative sister song can come out of it. 

Mia’s collaborations also include friends. Mia and senior Sam Neal composed a song about Ocean Vuong’s novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.

Mia and Sam Neal playing “Thirteen” by Big Star in Mia’s backyard on May 15. (Angelique De La Cruz)

Mia plans to step outside of her comfort zone and sign up for open mic night at Downtown Fullerton’s Night Owl. She even has a setlist ready to go. 

“I’m excited to meet new musicians in college and learn more about different styles,” said Mia, who will study journalism at Long Beach State. “I hope to form a band at some point, and I also hope to get over my fear of performing in front of others so I can truly enjoy the experience of connecting with an audience.” 

Click below to watch Mia Healey and Sam Neal play Adrianne Lenker’s “Free Treasure”.

More to Discover