Born in Boston in 1972 as Maria Billings to an Italian mother and English-American father, vocal artistry became the core of Maria's being at a very early age. While self-taught in voice, she studied classical piano beginning age five, and was soon influenced by her father's love of classic jazz as well as the soulful music of Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt, and Cesaria Evora.
Maria began professional vocal recording in her teen years for commercial jingles as well as with various performing groups, mainly in jazz and R&B styles. In college years she lived in Italy and India, and later during her graduate music degree, she spent time in Ghana, West Africa and Brazil. Captivated by earthy international rhythm and dance forms, she became hooked into the World Music scene, and after singing for several years with a samba band led by David Rumpler in Boston, joined up with Caribbean musician Diego Jameau, to whom she was married for eight years and performed extensively around the Napa Valley and San Francisco Bay Area, selling over 15,000 cds under the duo name, Twin Souls.
During her era as Maria Jameau, she became a mother to two beautiful daughters and created a boutique music & movement program in 2000 for families with young children in Napa Valley called Musical Mothering. As her daughters grew, she founded the Bija Children's Choir and later a Brazilian Quintet, "Blue Brazil."
In 2011, she changed her name to Maria Bija, which is an abbreviation of her maiden and ex-married last names, holding the Sanskrit meaning: "seed of creation." Creating, for Maria, is the key to a thriving, fulfilling life.
Maria Bija now performs in the greater Bay Area and teaches music privately and in groups. Holding her Master of Music Degree in Dalcroze Eurhythmics and Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, she has played piano for 36 years, along with guitar, flute, and percussion, and is a former faculty member of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and the Longy School of Music in Cambridge. Presently living in Sonoma County, CA, Maria turned the Bija Children's Choir into a nonprofit 501c3 organization, allowing her to expand the scope and vision of the program along with a supportive board of directors.
On the performance side of things, Maria's recent travels to Scotland inspired in her a new interest in Celtic and Appalachian music, and she is now working on vocal performance projects ranging from Brazilian to Appalachian and early American jazz along with world-class musicians in the Bay Area. Audiences may listen to Maria's performances through audio / video recordings, house concerts, and other intimate venues in the seasons to come. Click here to join her private fan mailing list.