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Singer/Composer living in Brooklyn, New York. Björk meets Stravinsky & Ani DiFranco, Billy Holiday & Joni Mitchell, add some Radiohead & you'll get an idea ...
Singer and composer Maria Neckam’s unparalleled sound slips across genre lines and expectations with a youthful ease that’s rare to find. Since releasing her second album as a leader, Deeper (Sunnyside Records), in 2010, her pure, fresh vocals have been acclaimed by critics around the world. To top it off, her compositions are both complex and catchy; one moment intriguing the listener with precisely executed lyrics, the next moment dropping wildly into dissonance. Hailed as “a valiant trailblazer” by JazzTimes, she moves effortlessly from idiosyncratic jazz riffs to haunting pop hooks, blending borders with skill, well-honed technique and range.
Born in a small town outside of Vienna, Austria, Maria has always been driven by music. Growing up, she loved to sing, learned many instruments, and even performed in musical theater, with a rock band, and as a singer/songwriter. Exposure to classical and opera music heavily influenced her childhood, along with pop and rock.
Maria recorded her first album, Crossing and Blending, while studying vocal jazz at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. In that international crossroads, she eagerly soaked up Scandanavian, Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian music, as well as free jazz and contemporary. She gravitated toward Indian music while studying with Sandhya Sanjana. After relocating to New York, Maria studied with Luciana Souza, Peter Eldridge, Theo Bleckmann, Nils Vigeland and Samir Chatterjee at the Manhattan School of Music.
Maria was quickly snapped up by some of her own musical role models, Thomas Morgan, Dan Weiss, and David Binney. She continues to collaborate with such luminaries as the Mahavishnu Project, Jeff Ballard, Jon Cowherd, Lewis Nash, Peter Eldridge, Aaron Goldberg, Jonathan Kreisberg, Aaron Parks, Logan Richardson, Mark Guiliana, Miles Okazaki, Will Vinson, Lage Lund, Mike Moreno, and Colin Stranahan.
Maria refuses to stay within borders: aside from her accomplishments in jazz, she writes and performs straight up pop tunes under the name Milán. Even national borders don’t contain this vibrant talent, as Maria has toured in Italy, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Canada and the US. In New York, she performs regularly at venues such as Joe’s Pub, Jazz Gallery, Smalls, 55Bar, Rockwood Music Hall, and Cornelia Street Café.
The most recent album, Deeper, made the top 10 albums of 2010 in Le Monde, the largest newspaper in France, and on Something Else! blog. It was also one of the best “New Discoveries” of 2010 on All About Jazz, where Dan Bilowsky writes of Maria, “Her voice has a hypnotic purity that has the potential to stop people dead in their tracks.” With that exceptional voice, Maria carries her listeners and audiences between genres into breathtaking, unpredictable territory.
Describing herself as an artist who uses her vocal technique and range to cross lines, Maria embraces her youthful energy when she rocks out, but always stays grounded in her musical savvy. As Maria herself puts it, “some of my songs are sweet, and many of them catchy, but there is also a dissonance in my music: surprises and craziness.” It may be hard to fit her impeccable sound into one category, unmistakably fresh, brilliant force to be reckoned with.