Gearing up to launch her debut disc Tell The World next month, Ottawa-based singer Kristina Maria performs at The Lotus Lounge March 16.
Maria knew from an early age that singing was going to be her life. She recalls the late Whitney Houston being a huge influence in her early years. And it was about the time she was four-years-old when she confidently informed her mother she wanted to be a singer.
She also knew nothing but support from her musical family. She recalls her mom finding out when local competitions and events were around town for her daughter to take part in, but there was never any pressure.
Maria took to it all with gusto – she also had a natural affinity for performing. The stage was never an uncomfortable place to be.
“I think music picked me,” says the 22-year-old artist. “It’s just something that I knew. I used to hum on key before I could even speak.”
These days, Maria is thrilled to be taking her new tunes on the road in a promotional tour prior to the CD’s release.
“It’s exciting and overwhelming,” she says, adding that sharing her music with audiences really is the ultimate joy. “It’s a part of me, so I’m excited to put it out there.”
She’s already experienced significant success with her music.
Her ultra-catchy first two singles Let’s Play and Co-Pilot have already landed digital sales of close to 100,000 units over the past year and nabbed her plenty of airplay across the country. Our Song Comes On immediately commands attention – polished and sophisticated pop at its shimmering finest, while We Belong Together allows her vocal strengths to shine. I Wanna Tell the World virtually explodes with infectious, irresistible energy. Conversely, the simply-structured Understatement shows a more vulnerable side to the gifted performer.
Production of Tell the World was quite literally a world-wide mission — she spent the past 18 months in studios in Sweden, Anguilla, New York City, Los Angeles, Montreal and Miami.
She co-wrote 11 of the 14 songs and she’s collaborated with some of the most prominent writers and producers in contemporary pop who have lent their talents to everyone from Céline Dion, Madonna and Katy Perry to Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez.
She also has no regrets about really taking her time with the production of the CD. “We just really wanted to perfect it. I didn’t want anything but that.”
Recording it around the world also enhances the overall flavour of the music. Maria points out that there are distinctly Canadian, European and American influences surfacing throughout the project.
“As you listen to it, you realize it’s a journey.”
Meanwhile, Maria was able to hook up with these A-list composer and producers thanks in large part to her manager Vito Luprano, the Montreal music-man who was one of the key players in the Céline Dion success story.
A friend had slipped Luprano a demo recording of Maria two years ago and he was smitten. The partnership was sealed the first time they met.
“I waited several weeks and didn’t hear anything, which isn’t unusual,” explains Maria, adding that she had been knocking on doors trying to get her music out there.
Even when the phone isn’t ringing with offers, she worked hard to remain positive.
But finally, the call came and the two have formed a formidable partnership. Once she hooked up with Luprano, a whole new world of amazing opportunity opened up.
She still can hardly believe her good fortune in teaming up with such a well-known and respected industry veteran.
As mentioned earlier, Maria had her eye on music early on. She’d sing every chance she got – from family parties to talent shows – and she began intensive vocal training at the Ottawa Conservatory.
To unwind, she’d sing with her brothers’ rap buddies. Kids at the high school would be partying on a Friday night but she was always happier hanging at the Conservatory developing her vocal skills.
Looking back on it all, she’s fully aware that the hard work and dedication is paying off. “I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it. It’s surreal.”