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.”