Paula Maya is an award winning Brazilian pianist, keyboardist, singer, composer and recording artist, nominated Best Brazilian Musician living in the US. The official release of her eleventh album Mar da Minha Terra, Yellow House Records, is July 25th 2023.
Paula Maya has songs in several compilations with artists such as Jimmy Cliff. She holds a degree from the Brazilian Conservatory of Music in Rio de Janeiro. Her compositions have roots in Brazilian traditional rhythms and melodies, such as maracatú, baião and samba. They are also inspired and influenced by bossa nova, jazz, blues, Cuban music and African music.
Her 2019 single 'Refugee' is featured in the compilation 'No More Silence Vol 2, Austin Musicians For Transformative Justice' 2020, with artists such as Shinyribs, Jackie Venson and Atash. Her song 'Wish You Were Here (Christmas Eve)' is featured in the compilation 'Holiday Haam Jam Benefit Album' 2012, including bands such as Asleep At The Wheel and Carolyn Wonderland. Leyla Aksu from KUTX 98.9 writes “Keyboardist, singer and songwriter Paula Maya creates sophisticated and soothing melodies.” Her band was nominated in the Top Ten Best World Music Bands in the 2014 and 2015 Austin Chonicle Music Awards.
Maya is from the South Zone of Rio, the birth place of Bossa Nova and Antonio Carlos 'Tom' Jobim, composer of Girl From Ipanema. As a young woman she was lucky to have as mentors giants of Brazilian music such as Baden Powell, Luizinho Eça, and later Teo Lima. She recalls getting up at dawn when she was just four years old, while the family was still asleep, to listen to her mom's vinyls of classical music. 'It would always overcome me with emotion and make me cry.' She was always playing a small electronic keyboard her mom gave her, and at ten years old started formal classical piano lessons. Fast foward three years, at a friend's place she witnesses a young man improvising on the piano. 'How do you do that?' she asked. From that day forward she would not look at the piano the same way. One year later at a high school music festival contest, she won three awards with the band she was performing with: Best Arrangement of a Song, Third Place on Best Song, and an honorary award for Best Musician created for her during the event. After being accepted into the Federal University of Music for Classical Piano, she started studying Jazz, Harmony and Bossa Nova with the great pianist and arranger Luizinho Eça, composer of The Dolphin. 'My boyfriend at the time was the one who suggested I go study with Luizinho. I was so nervous, I almost canceled my first lesson!' She studied with Eça for two years, and he became one of her most important mentors, often calling Paula 'Geniozinho' (Petite Genius).