Austrian born, now Brooklyn-based, singer and composer Maria Neckam stands out from her peers, possessing a highly unique and versatile voice. She has been praised by the press -- from the New York Times to NPR's "A Blog Supreme," and Le Monde in France -- as a "trailblazer," and "natural wonder." Known for smart, complex jazz-influenced compositions, Maria has made a departure into the world of indie rock; songs with an edge that talk about what it’s like to let go of safe solutions and follow your dreams.
Maria is preparing the release of her fourth album in 2018, produced by Jon Cowherd (Brian Blade's Fellowship, Meshell Ndegeocello) and Steve Wall (Lucius, Motherfeather). This latest project, entitled ‘The Leap’ is the result of a series of recent life-changing moments. Maria stepped into these moments recognizing an opportunity to start fresh, and this time do it exactly as it felt right – from the heart. The album is a reflection of the struggle… the desire… the courage to persevere, and to engage. From a very vulnerable place, Maria’s voice flows over engaging melodies and danceable sounds with thought-provoking lyrics about human connections, some of the failures of those connections, and social phenomena. At the crux of it all is a dialogue with listeners about what it’s like to be a woman in the modern world, and the pursuit of a life of value.
Maria has been a part of countless other artists' projects, such as: Grammy-winning Neo-Soul Queen Erykah Badu, composer Ted Hearne and the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, hip-hop producer Mesta Bish, indie rock artist David Bronson and drum/tabla virtuoso Dan Weiss. She has released two electro pop EP's under the moniker Milán, which have been remixed by many DJs and producers, amongst them NYC-based Kissey and Pax Humana. Playing in venues both in the US and Europe, her live performances resonate as she connects audience members to one another in listening enjoyment.
Her award-winning music video for '25' by animator Nina Pfeifenberger was screened at multiple short film festivals, amongst them Cannes and London's International Festivals. ‘25’ is a biographical musical narrative beginning with Maria’s move to New York and her subsequent realization that in order to move forward and grow into the person you want to be, you sometimes need to leave the old self behind. As part of her creative mission to strive for authenticity, this impactful visual presentation demonstrates the diversity of the application of her music.
Maria’s goal is and has always been to create in her songs a space for people to see themselves and their own stories. When they listen to her music, whether at a live show or through an interpretive presentation like ‘25’, they experience a sense of freedom, and gain courage and hope; they can go back, face their lives and win.
Selected press quotes:
“clear-water tones.” – Ben Ratliff, The New York Times
“a singer of composure and purpose.” – Nate Chinen, The New York Times
“a vocalist whose compositions are informed by unconventional phrasing and a striving for serenity.” - Patrick Jarenwattananon, NPR’s a blog supreme
“a natural wonder” — Sylvain Siclier, Le Monde, France
“a valiant trailblazer” — Christopher Loudon, JazzTimes
"[Her] fecund creativity emerges from a genre-blurring sensibility that spans jazz, pop, rock, opera, musical theater and sacred hymns... She has found eager and superbly gifted copilots. Led by Neckam's crystalline soprano, they travel to some remarkable places, many not of this earth, several influenced by her conversion to Buddhism.... Every Neckam voyage is a wild one." — Christopher Loudon, JazzTimes
“Neckam functions as a coequal instrumentalist and deft storyteller, using a clear fluid voice to convey raw emotions with philosophical detachment. She dresses the stories with an impressive array of compositional and orchestrative strategies. Some evoke the autobiographical clarity of Joni Mitchell. Three duos with cellist Mariel Roberts nod to the art songs of Mahler and Schoenberg. Another three pieces frame poems by Hafez, Pablo Neruda and Rainer Maria Rilke. Others refract the rhythmic, harmonic and performative pathways established by stars such as Brad Mehldau and Luciana Souza. Whether rendering a lyric or a wordless melody, Neckam unfailingly follows her line, traversing the tricky time feels with confidence and grace.” — Ted Panken, DownBeat
“Lovely.” – John Schaefer, New Sounds, WNYC
“...idiosyncratic jazz riffs and haunting pop hooks.” — Jaime Cone, New York Daily News
“It's not often that a singer like Maria Neckam comes along. Blessed with a voice that she can set free as it flutters and streaks into stellar regions of music, Neckam is still able to keep it in control. She has a natural ability for heartbreaking emotion, in much the same way that Billie Holiday did.” — All About Jazz
“It’s going to be difficult for her listeners to avoid finding her irresistibly charming.” — PopMatters
“****Four stars. Neckam writes all of her own material and delivers it in a sweet, pure soprano that belies the dark sophistication of her lyrics... A collection of finely crafted songs that range from angular downtown jazz to poetic duets with cello to catchy indy-style numbers.” — Cormac Larkin, The Irish Times
“*****Five stars. ... this album [Unison] is simply genius.“ — Jazz Forum, Poland
“Her voice becomes a precious instrument that allows her to heighten her expressiveness and to engage in dialogue with the instrumental and rhythmical voices around her, painting scenarios of pure beauty.” — All About Jazz Italia
“...fuses Scandinavian, Indian and Japanese elements into a music that elates through its freshness and emotional depth.” — Jazzpodium, Germany