artishare profile:

The ArtistShare Profile series features exclusive interviews with ArtistShare artists focusing on inspirations, current projects, and the creative process.

maria schneider

Featured Artist: Maria Schneider

Describe the moment when you realized you wanted to be a musician.

Maria: When I was 5 years old, my parents invited friends over for a party.  Their mother/mother-in-law, an incredible stride and classical pianist from Chicago, had just moved to my hometown in Southwest MN. She moved in with them when, within one month, she lost her husband and only other child (a son) to cancer. Mrs. Butler played for us all after dinner, and oh my God! It was like life came into living color! She was a similar musician to Dorothy Donnegan. I wanted to be 'her' and would study with her until I was 18. She taught me theory and taught me to play a little stride on standards. She was a magnificent teacher. We analyzed every classical piece I ever played. I had to write every chord progression in the music to understand the harmonic structure of the piece.

AS: What was your most memorable experience as a music fan?

Maria: It might have been the first big jazz concert I heard, Ella Fitzgerald.  For some reason, many of my most moving experiences at concerts have been with singers: Ella, Sarah Vaughan and Shirley Horn, especially her last concert at Iridium in New York. The room was full of singers and devoted listeners, and we were all just crying buckets of tears, especially when she sang "Here's to Life."

AS: What was your most memorable experience with a fan (of yours)?

Maria: Bringing Little Johnny Koerber with me to the GRAMMY Awards after Sky Blue was nominated, was a thrill. He's done so much to support my projects, and he's such a music lover, that it was just a joy to get to share that GRAMMY experience with him. He was Executive Producer on that record and on my latest Winter Morning Walks recording and has additionally commissioned new works through ArtistShare. I'm most grateful!!!!

AS: What was the inspiration or story behind your current ArtistShare project and tell us a little about the creative process.

Maria: I'm about to do a project that I'm inviting everyone to participate in -- a no-charge project. I'm writing a piece that is dedicated to Laurie Frink, who has played in my group for over 20 years. Laurie died this past summer. She was an incredible trumpet player, friend and teacher to countless brass musicians of every genre. It's just devastating to have lost her. I started working on a piece and suddenly realized, it's a piece for Laurie that was coming out. I didn't set out to do that. She also was a great potter, so I'm calling it A Potter's Song.

AS: Describe the latest creative process update you made to your project.

Maria: I just videoed myself talking about my latest efforts in writing this piece dedicated to Laurie It's not always easy to share your process. When things are going well, it's easy. When they're not, oh dear... it's really hard, but that's part of the whole trip in creating anything I guess. It's got peaks and valleys.

AS: If you could collaborate with any musician (dead or alive) and share the process with your fans, who would it be and why?

Maria: Oh, I'd just video myself sitting down to dinner with Bach, and then I'd ask him to go through Art of Fugue with me and take me through his process. I'd ask him if he ever had a dark day! I'd want to play him a few jazz selections from the future and see his reaction.