With a velveteen voice, charmingly straightforward delivery, and nuanced rhythmic sensibilities, singer Maria Schafer presents dancing, lyrical gems from the realms of jazz standards, Brazilian music, and pop tunes in beautifully modern arrangements which complement her flourishing skills as a composer. Having performed for thousands of music lovers across the United States, Canada, Australia, Latvia, and Japan, Schafer's genuine effect and elegance on the stage speak well to all audiences, whether it be in an international concert hall as the centerpiece of an expansive big band or warmly nestled among her quartet in a Los Angeles jazz club.
Now, after mesmerizing fans worldwide while fronting the swing era big band Glenn Miller Orchestra for the past two years, Schafer returns to her small group roots with her debut solo album, "To Know Love..." out with Marsch Music on January 19, 2018. The self-produced collection of Schafer's arrangements of jazz standards and Brazilian tunes highlights a conversational prowess best heard on the small stage, with a range including a sparse yet expansive bass duet, a haunting and heart-wrenching number with a bass/drums duo, and finally expanding to a hard-swinging quartet number with a delightful twist and a wonderful trumpet solo.
A relative latecomer to the music scene, Schafer began studying music at the age of 20 after a paperwork issue created a years-long delay in her initial studies in medicine. Faced with a load of undesired downtime but ever the pragmatist, Schafer indulged a quiet but persistent interest in music and enrolled in music theory classes and voice lessons at her college, quickly confirming she had a remarkable talent as a solo performer that rivaled her excellence in academics. After winning a competition hosted by a local instrumental group, then gathering Most Outstanding Soloist Awards at the Reno Jazz and Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festivals, her promise as a remarkable and impressive soloist was taking shape, while her roles in vocal ensembles brought 4 consecutive Downbeat Student Awards for Winner or Outstanding Performance in ensemble categories. In her last year of university studies, harboring support from the New York Voices' alto Lauren Kinhan and the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, Schafer competed as a semi-finalist in the Riga Jazz Stage competition (Riga, Latvia), gaining insight into the international jazz scene.
As a recording artist, Schafer has garnered the attention of Los Angeles songwriters for her ability to breath life into lyrics with an extensive range of vocal colours and a particularly rare emphasis on articulation and phrasing. Composer James Kob enlisted her as the featured vocalist on his expansive 2016 album “So Right...” (Partly Sunny Records), and later framed her stylistic and linguistic talents in an international version of the album due in 2018, featuring the tunes revisited in Portuguese, French, and Spanish. She also lent her voice to the 2017 self-released debut album from Los Angeles saxophonist Eric Hirschhorn, “Living In The Question”.
“Her perfect pitch and stage presence kept your eyes and ears in one place... on her. She would … come out and mesmerize the crowd again.” - Robert von Bernewitz, Music247
“...teams with warm strings for Schafer’s upbeat voice on “Because of You” and she is winsome with percussion and Sprague’s soprano on “So Right.”” - George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly
“In addition to sharing his expansive musical vision, the collection doubles as a wondrous showcase for the warm and sensuous vocal talents of featured singer Maria Schafer.” - Jonathan Widran, SmoothJazz.com
“Vocalist Maria Schafer is a work of art - her voice is the Messenger that James wanted to bring life to his words … she takes this so very seriously. - Trish Hennessy, Blog Talk Radio