By Terri Fowler | Contributing Writer
SAN DIEGO, CA – Phenomenal feats of musical merriment on a harp performed by a skilled and seductive artist with the bravery to burn a path for herself and her craft. This describes the musical unicorn, Mariea Antoinette, and her story began as a young teen in love with the harp – an instrument with origins from Mother Africa. (1)
That continent is a long way from sunny San Diego, the hometown of this masterful muse, but not out of character for Mariea. She gravitates to all things organic in life and in her musical evolution from classical arrangements to remakes of funk, blues, jazz and pop hits. Mariea credits her ease with complex musical interpretation and skill to her Russia teacher, Elena Maskovtseva but she recalls her attraction to the harp was immediate.
Mariea recalls, “I was exposed to the harp in middle school in a music program. The Harpist played Debussy’s “First Arabesque”, it was stunning and the hair on my arms stood up, I knew then that’s what I wanted to do and I pushed as hard as I could to become a harpist.”
Her craft was perfected with years of undergraduate work at universities in San Diego and Arizona offering Master classes in harp performance. These classroom experiences translated into in real- time application of this art form. She became the principle harpist at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles with the Southeast Symphony Orchestra since 2007.
Next, she ventured further on her journey into the world of entertainment as a fixture with the all-girl, internationally known jazz ensemble, Jazz in Pink. The fusion of classical and modern compilations was commonplace for the fiercely unapologetic group of musicians. The band’s core members, Gail Jhonson, Althea René, Maria Antoinette, and Karen Briggs, delivers a mixed genre which is primarily Jazz with soul, R&B, symphonic, rock and hip hop undertones.
Whether performing as a member of an ensemble or solo Mariea’s classical and popular music training engages her audiences and makes each event memorable whether at a wedding, VIP reception or special event. However, her biggest thrill and surprise as a solo performer started with the recording of her first album with producer, Carl Evans Jr., Musical Director of ‘Fat Burger’ the National Jazz fusion band. “It was an exciting game changer to have the skill set to come into the studio and put down my harp arrangements and improvise after watching Hollis Gentry and many A-list musician record,” she said.
Other accomplishment placed her squarely on the national stage, with historic figures and legendary artists. “A milestone for me was hearing my music for the first time on radio, then being asked to play on the live radio broadcast, On-Air Radio, for an hour with it reaching across the country”.
There have been many exciting and unexpected moments, from a call to play a major fundraiser luncheon for the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, and a request from B.E.T. to perform on their award show with Ne-Yo. Yet for this “local girl from San Diego” her major thrill was “being asked to perform on at home on a big smooth jazz stage with my band and string section.”
The success and celebrity of her earlier projects, “Sexy Paradise” and “Straight from the Harp” are an indicator of the impression she making in the world of music. In early 2020, she’ll share a new gift to this industry – a full-length album, titled “All My Strings” featuring the latest single “That Thing”, a cover of the Lauryn Hill classic.
- Sexy Paradise
2. Straight From The Harp
2a. Christmas Single “Gloria”
- All My Strings, (Released in early March 2020) (With a track that features “Fatburger”)
Newest single: That Thang
For lots more info on Mariea and her music, check out the PRESS KIT on her official website.
Named the 2018 Instrumentalist of the Year by the San Diego Prestige Awards
Awarded the 2018 Best Jazz Single for “Overture” by the Black Women in Jazz & the Arts Association
Received a BMA Image Award at the 2018 Black Music Awards ceremony in Los Angeles