Interviews & Articles
Been Doin' This w/ Sonny Phono (Jun '20)
ABOUT MONICA MARIA
Monica graduated in 2006 from SFSU with a BA in Vocal Jazz and World Music, but had begun songwriting, singing and playing guitar in 2000, and she’s been writing poetry since 1997. While in college Monica immersed herself in the local music scene, sat in on jazz tunes, played open mics and performed with various ensembles.
In 2004, she opened for the Spanish Harlem Orchestra with LJYE (Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble), and in 2005 she performed for Cachao "Israel" Lopez with the SFSU Alumni Ensemble at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. She’s performed for over 10 years of SF Carnaval since 2005. In 2006, Monica began teaching music and has been teaching in some form for the better part of the last 14 years.
Between 2006 and 2009 she composed about 30 songs, began learning to record herself, moved to New York, played a mix of jazz and singer/songwriter gigs there, and then later attended various workshops in jazz and afro-cuban music back in the Bay Area.
In 2009, she rejoined John Calloway's SFSU Afro-Cuban ensemble as co-director, and her Latin band Santos Perdidos formed in which Monica played bass and sang lead and backup vocals. Santos Perdidos released an EP in 2012.
In 2011, she joined a salsa band called Rumbaché singing lead and backup vocals alongside Omar Ledezma of the Pacific Mambo Orchestra. Monica sang lead on "As" and coro on their 2012 album release "Llego la Fiesta." She also joined Sol Tevel that year, performing and recording backup vocals in English and Hebrew on their 2012 release "World Light." This same year Monica recorded four lullabies at Fantasy Studios for BabyCenter.
In 2013 she joined DiaPaSon and they opened for Son de Madera later that year at the 2nd Annual San Francisco Son Jarocho Festival.
Also in 2013, Monica joined the Hitsville Soul Sisters, a group that performed in a "Supremes" Motown format; singing three part harmonies, trading leads and presenting dance choreography. She also joined a cumbia, reggae, hip-hop group, La Gente, singing backup vocals and playing guira at venues such as Slim's, the Great American Music Hall and the Mezzanine. Monica sang on our 2020 release "Borderless.”
In 2015, she participated in the Undercover Presents production of Bob Marley's "Exodus.” Monica recorded bass and backup vocals at Fantasy Studios on Shake Your Peace!'s cover of "So Much Things To Say,” and they later performed it at The Independent. In 2019, Monica performed at an Undercover Presents production of A Tribe Called Quest's "Midnight Marauders” with La Gente.
Monica recorded backup vocals on the album "Quiero Creedence" released in 2016. She sang on "Long As I Can See The Light" with Andrés Calamaro, "Fortunate Son" with Bang Data and "Proud Mary" with El Tri. Other artist on this album include Juan Gabriel, Ozomatli and La Marisoul of La Santa Cecelia.
In 2016, Monica formed a duo with son jarocho maestro Alfredo Herrera "El Godo" of Son de Madera in which she play bass and sings. They wrote and recorded a song "Canto Sin Fin" together which has yet to be released.
Also in 2016, she recorded on Jesus Diaz y Su QBA's album "La Jungla," on John Calloway's "Asere Ko" and she began working at Pandora Inc as a Music Analyst.
In 2017, Monica joined La Mezcla, a tap/jazz/son jarocho musical theater group in which she’s the musical director, lead vocalist and instrumentalist for "Pachuquismo." Later in the year, Monica was one of 25 selected female musicians chosen to sing and play in a production at the Woman's Building called "Songs of The Patriarchy."
In 2018, she and Cassandra Milspaugh formed their Californian son jarocho duo Azucarada.
In 2019, she toured Mexico with an artist collective called La Diáspora. They performed in Mexico City and put on a festival in Puebla where Monica Maria gave multiple performances and joined La Gente on bass and vocals. Monica Maria also shared a bill with Diana Gameros in Tlayacapan.
In January of 2020, Monica Maria held her debut album release concert for "Nuevos Caminos" at the Brava Caberet in San Francisco. Her album was exclusively available for download on her website, and then it was officially launched on all major platforms on February 21st. "Nuevos Caminos" was recorded in Mexico City with producer and multi-instrumentalist Jerónimo Gonzalez, as well as at her home studio.
Monica Maria performed at the 8th Annual San Francisco Son Jarocho Festival in February of 2020 joined by Alfredo "El Godo" Herrera. They opened for for Rubí Oseguera and "Quebranto" from Veracruz, Mexico.
Also in 2020, Monica sang lead and backup vocals on Laura Rebolloso's single release of “Quedate en Casa." In December, Laura released her album “Sones y Canciones para Reverdecer” under Round Whirled Records on which Monica sang lead & backup vocals on “Mujer Rota” and backup vocals on “Reverdecer.”
Over the years, Monica has participated in countless community events and fundraisers in support of MAPP (Mission Arts Performance Project), La Clinica Martin Baro, Carnaval SF, Brava for Women in the Arts, La Peña Cultural Center, La Diaspora, H.O.M.E.Y., and the Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble, to name a few.
Monica is a part of the son jarocho community, and she travels to Mexico as often as possible to collaborate, study, record and perform. Although raised in Lodi, Ca, she is considered an "adopted child of The Mission" because of my consistent involvement in the community since 2003.
All in all, Monica has written nearly 100 songs, writes regularly and is looking forward to sharing many more of these songs with you as upcoming releases.