Singer Songwriter Maria Z is a true vocalist known for her powerful, yet heartfelt voice, delivering a fusion of soulful pop and R&B. She is also a passionate writer who has written for many artists including Elle Varner, K-Pop Star Hyo Lyn, Flo Rida, and many others. Maria was recognized by Guitar Center as one of the Top 10 Songwriters in the Country. On stage, she has performed alongside musical legends such as Babyface, Ne-Yo, Fantasia and Earth, Wind & Fire.
Born in Queens, NY and raised in Florida, Maria is an East coast girl with a blend of city attitude and southern values. She is currently residing in Los Angeles, CA. Below, we find out more about her unique approach to the topline, and how her commitment to living a healthy, happy life affects her music career.
What inspired you to get into songwriting?
I was always obsessed with and drawn to anything that had to do with music. I also blame all the kids singing shows I was watching, like Mickey Mouse Club, for showing me that a song and a choreographed dance was the answer to anything in life. But it was actually my brother who suggested I should sing in my school’s talent show. It was a weird idea for me in the beginning. I was only in first grade. Even being so young, it made me realize a passion for the stage and started my love affair.
What’s your singing dream? Any major goals?
Hit #1 with multiple songs, create with Babyface, make a cross-over album (Greek & Spanish), sing a duet with Bruno Mars, voice an animated character, be part of artistic history through any major project. Those are just a few, in no particular order. But God has a way of out-doing our visions so we’ll see what he picks for me. I just want to be creating for as long as possible!
Is there a particular warm up process you have before recording?
Lip trills, stretching my body, over-the-top-diva runs and iced coffee. Haha! Please don’t follow my lead on that last one. That’s not what singers are supposed to do.
Tell us about your songwriting process – is there a particular way you tackle the topline?
I go about it a bit differently each time depending on how the track starts (organically with just a guitar, a vocal idea, etc). The way that works best for me, ultimately, is to just have a conversation with myself about a real situation in my life and understand exactly what I’m trying to say. Sometimes we try to be poetic, “rhymey” and force a cool concept when we should just be telling a story we’ve actually experienced. I like to talk it out and just flow with the first words that come to me to see where my instincts take me.
What’s your biggest success to date?
Success for the world looks like stats and numbers (opening up for Neyo, Top 10 International tracks). For me it’s been having Fantasia break me down to tears demanding I never give up, having fans tell my songs have helped them battle depression or that me being upfront about my feelings has given them the courage to express theirs as well, getting my music co-signed by Frank Ocean, having my voice danced to as people walked down the aisle or had their first dance. The behind the scenes moments are the things that feel more important when I close my eyes.
On a personal level, it’s my ability to always choose happiness and a desire to grow into my fullest potential. The music industry can be draining. A filled soul and nourished spirit is what allows me to spend hours in a dark studio hearing the same music on repeat a gazillion times. I’ve seen how broken people can allow themselves to be. Choosing a healthy lifestyle and a commitment to bringing the best version of yourself as a human is the biggest success in my opinion.
Who would you most like to work with, and why?
Diane Warren, Walter Afanasieff, James Fauntleroy, Ed Sheeran – basically most brilliant writers. And Drake, for fun.
Which artists do you find inspiring? Why?
The ones that have something real to say. I admire India Arie and Lauryn Hill for empowering women and speaking on real issues through their lyrics.
Do you have a home studio? If so, tell us about your setup?
Yes. I’ve been using a DigiRack, Pre-73 PreAmp and Sterling Audio Mic. It’s been holding me down. But I have to say the key for me has really been creating a nice vocal chain. Singers should put some effort into finding the plug-in settings that work best for their voice and using that as a starting point when recording.
Do you have a favourite microphone?
I’m really into the Manley at the moment!
How did you find singing jobs before Vocalizr?
Through studio sessions, by word of mouth, etc. Vocalizr is a really great way to connect with other ambitious music-makers and I love that about the site.
Have you made new connections through Vocalizr? Has it opened any doors for you?
Definitely. I make a new connection each day. It’s allowed me to have an additional source of creativity. As a creator, I think it’s important to be plugged into the worldwide
community of musicians, beatmakers and writers. There are opportunities for new ideas in every inch of the Internet. Plugging in directly through a site like Vocalizr is just a