Career in Music
Maria began her musical work in Ireland as lead singer and percussionist with members of Irish fiddle player and composer Charlie Lennon’s music family, Sean and Ailish Lennon, in the Lennon Quintet and performed around Ireland and on Irish television. She then based herself in Galway and formed ‘The Blow-Ins’ with ex-Waterboys saxophonist and mandolin player Anto Thistlethwaite, a local band playing mainly acoustic folk and blues in and around Galway. Going more electric, Maria formed ‘Ruby Blue’ not long after, a jazzy, bluesy, R&B band playing at Galway venues and festivals. Maria began incorporating jazz into her music around this time and it became increasingly prominent in her sets. She put together The Jazz Exiles in 1999 with ex-Pat Dublin-based musicians and the five-piece band began playing small jazz venues around Dublin, graduating to larger festivals like Cork International Jazz Festival in 2000.
In 2003, Maria landed on her feet in Dublin and began gigs in the rest of Ireland as she performed at top festivals, venues, and with the cream of Ireland’s musicians. Maria quickly became a regular on the jazz scene and was considered by many to be Ireland’s most respected and promising female vocalist and jazz performer. Not long after, Maria began chasing gigs at larger venues around Ireland and the U.K. and support slots for visiting international artists began to come up regularly for her.
Maria was fast becoming a bright and fiery star on the cabaret scene as well, and her one-woman jazz/cabaret shows have been lauded by critics and entrancing audiences in Europe, U.K., and the USA since 2003. Maria wrote “All About Love” for the Dublin Fringe Festival 2003 and was invited to create “Lush Life” especially for the opulent ‘Spiegeltent’ during the Dublin Theatre Festival 2003. Both shows played to packed houses and marry three of Maria’s skills as a performer. acting, singing, and playing, and most impressive is the fact that Maria writes, designs, and produces all her shows herself. Other one-woman shows quickly followed, “Once Upon A Christmas” (2004), “Torch Song” (2005), and “Night & the City” (2006), “Viva” (2008), and the stunning “Strapless” (2010) for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. “Strapless” subsequently went on to tour internationally and was recently sold-out at the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival. From New York’s Lincoln Center to London’s Westend, Maria has spellbound audiences in some of Europe and America’s most beautiful capital cities and most historic and respected venues and festivals.
In 2008 Maria began moving away from the straight-ahead jazz genre of her previous gigs to incorporate Spanish, Latin, and Argentinian music as well as her own new compositions, thus creating a springboard for ‘Viva’ and ‘Strapless’. The shows affirm Maria’s dextrous versatility not only as a musician and singer but also as a performer, writer, and producer. Her cabaret shows and straight jazz gigs have now headlined venues in Ireland, UK, Europe, and the USA, packing venues and receiving rave reviews from critics and audience alike wherever she goes. This tour-de-force performer has shared the stage with such diverse names as Dionne Warwick and the Irish legend Ronnie Drew of ‘The Dubliners’ fame and launched her first album “All About Love” in April 2003, followed by “Torch Song” in 2007, and “Viva” in 2010. Maria performs an originals/acoustic gig as well which is folk and blues-based, reaching back to her own musical roots in the U.S… Live in-studio versions of two of Maria’s original songs, “Go Back Home” and “This Love Is Through”, are included on separate CD compilations featuring Grammy Award Winners John Prine, Bella Fleck, and Bruce Mathiske and Irish artists such as Juliet Turner, Damien Rice, David Kitt, Jack L., The 4 Of Us, Kila, and Mary Coughlan.
Maria also has a passion for folk songs of other countries in their original languages and has a repertoire of Spanish, Italian, French, and Polish songs that she adds to and performs regularly; her fluency in Spanish definitely helps. (She’s working on her Italian and Polish.) Voice is Maria’s first instrument now but it wasn’t always. She was a choral accompanist on piano for 3 years, a concert flautist in Boston for 5 years, has played the guitar since she was a child, and also played saxophone in a jazz swing band for 2 years. To date, she has released three CDs, ‘All About Love’, ‘Torch Song’, and ‘Viva’ and one DVD ‘Live In Prague’. From 2011 – 2018 Maria performed with Irish musical-comedy trio The Nualas as a performer, accompanist, co-writer, and musical director.
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