About Maria (Long Form Bio)
Born near Vancouver, B.C., Canada, Maria Schafer spent a childhood in Oklahoma and an adolescence in Southern California, creating a special mix of small town resourcefulness and work ethic coupled with big city savvy and perseverance in her music.
Despite having prepared for a career in healthcare modeled after two of her beloved aunts, fate decided a different path for Maria when a paperwork issue meant that after 2 years spent completing her pre-med path in college, she was ultimately unable to utilize hard-earned financial awards to fund her continuing university studies. Heartbroken and unable to move forward - but never one to wait around idly for things to just happen - Maria took this waiting period as an opportunity to nurture a quiet but niggling interest in music and began formally studying music theory at her college, taking voice lessons for the first time at age 20. Adding to her experience with vocal jazz groups and choir since high school, operatic studies brought a new challenge of creating unobstructed intimacy through larger-than-life characters on stage.
Over the next 2 years, vocal group performances across the USA and Australia garnered an Outstanding Soloist award at the Reno Jazz Festival and Outstanding Ensemble Performance award from the Downbeat Student Awards, highlighting that Ms. Schafer was a bright new light in the jazz music scene. When those paperwork issues were finally resolved, and everyone she personally knew had tired of telling her to pursue a solo career in music, she finally bit the bullet and decided to complete her university studies in music instead of medicine. At the end of her undergraduate studies, Ms. Schafer had played a key part in an additional 4 Downbeat Student Awards for Ensemble Winner or Outstanding Performance and received Outstanding Soloist and Ensemble Winner awards from the Monterey Next Generation Festival. In the jazz club scene, Schafer was also chosen as the winning vocalist in a solo competition hosted by Southern California jazz group San Gabriel 7.
Further music exploration sent Ms. Schafer to the New York Voices vocal jazz camp on special scholarship, an experience which later led to encouragement from the vocal group's alto, Lauren Kinhan, to compete in the international Riga Jazz Stage vocal competition. With additional support from the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation via her university CSULB, Schafer traveled to Riga, Latvia in her last semester of university to learn from the 11 other competing jazz vocalists, gaining insight into the international jazz scene. A summer spent at California Brazil camp indulged her passion for Brazilian music and the Portuguese language, incorporating dance and drumming studies with her vocals.
When not touring, Ms. Schafer performs often in quartet and duo settings in the Long Beach and Los Angeles areas, but for the past 2 years has been traveling worldwide as the featured vocalist with full-time big band, The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra. With this group she has sung for thousands of music lovers across the United States, Canada, and Japan singing timeless swing-era classics and more modern Nelson Riddle arrangements of the American Songbook.
As a recording artist, Schafer caught the attention of composer/producer James Kob, who enlisted her as the featured vocalist on an expansive all-original album, “So Right...” which utilized her flexible range of musical styles and linguistic talents in vocal tunes which were additionally recorded in Portuguese, French, and Spanish for international release in 2017. Up-and-coming saxophonist Eric Hirschhorn also released an album earlier in 2017, “Living In The Question” , which features Ms. Schafer on a beautiful arrangement of “Everything's Alright”. Vocal jazz ensemble Singcopation also recorded two full-length albums, “Singin' In The Rain” and “Imagine”, both of which feature her extensively on solos.
After returning to Los Angeles to take a break from the road, Ms. Schafer now presents her debut solo album, “To Know Love...”, out on Jan. 19, 2018 at major digital outlets. A self-produced small group presentation of Schafer's arrangements feature stunningly intimate duo and trios in contrast to hard-swinging quartet tunes including features for trumpet player Brad Black.