Maria Alejandra Quintanilla, originally born in Lima, Peru, is a multi-award winning vocalist, composer, and producer who began her career in Los Angeles, California before taking a leap of faith into the heart of New York City. Her insatiable curiosity has enabled her to perform and record in a wide spectrum of styles that range from folk to jazz, funk to pop, soul to latin. Despite her young age, Maria has toured all over Europe, North and South America, and has had the privilege of sharing the stage with champion artists such as Jon Faddis, John Benitez, Steve Turre and Tia Fuller, amongst others. She has been recognized as a performer with poise far beyond her years and with having an exceptional ear for raw vocal expression.
Maria graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master Degree from State University of New York Purchase where she is also the vocal performance teaching artist for the Purchase College Arts Abroad Program. She represented Ella Fitzgerald in several Centennial performances with Purchase Jazz Orchestra under the baton of Grammy-Award winning Todd Coolman and Jon Faddis at the legendaries Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola and Blue Note NY.
In 2013 she was an "Outstanding Musician" award recipient at the DeMiero Jazz Festival. Between 2013 and 2015 she was a leading vocalist of vocal group Pacific Standard Time who was awarded the DownBeat Music Award for "Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble" (2014) and "Outstanding Performance" (2015 & 2016) in the Graduate College category.
In 2016, Maria released her debut duo album Distance Chemistry with virtuoso pianist Renato Diz. This album was built entirely upon free improvisations and improvised arrangements of songs that marked their musical growth during their formative years. Masterpieces like "Strange Fruit" and "Calling You" are rediscovered, deconstructed, and rebuilt with singular twists. Their original composition "Conversation II" was made into a short film under the same title and directed by Pedro Marnoto.
In 2017, Ms. Quintanilla released her second album as a co-leader alongside collaborator Renato Diz and Taiwanese multi-percussionist Sayun Chang. Together they recorded an album entitled Breathing Taiwan. This music is a unique blend of compositions that tell the compelling stories of Taiwanese tribes and traditions and has been considered in Taiwan and throughout Asia as one of the most inspired musical creations of the last decades. Maria was named the winner of the Music Category of the State University of New York's Thayer Fellowship. This exclusive award is given to no more than 3 artists out of an assembly of 500,000 SUNY students who demonstrate outstanding achievement and high professional promise in the arts. In the same year she co-wrote, recorded and produced the soundtrack for the documentary Vozes na Névoa along with Renato Diz, directed by Pedro Marnoto. Also in the same year, Maria and Renato were commissioned to create a special work honoring the History of Portugal by the ARTE Institute, the Portuguese Embassy in the United States and the Instituto Camões. This creation entitled "Portugal: Sonic Paths and Possibilities" contained compositions and original arrangements that explore the deepest origins of Portugal and its inevitable influence and ramifications throughout Africa, South America and Asia. In this set of works the two artists explored not only the voice and the piano, but also flute, percussions, acting, prepared piano and vocal extended techniques. After the world premiere at Joe's Pub NYC, they were invited to present this work at the Festival Portugal International de Montreal in Canada, an event that has an average annual attendance of about 20,000 people.
In 2018, Maria Alejandra Quintanilla performed with Renato Diz’s trio at one of the most iconic festivals in the world, the historic SummerStage, in the heart of Central Park in New York (where names such as Metallica, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Bobby McFerrin also performed in previous years); on the same day the Grammy-Award nominated Mariza performed presenting her new album.
Maria is now in post production for her first solo album set to be released in 2020.