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Paula Maya





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Jazz; Latin; World

Keyboards; Piano


Join Date:

6 April 2018

Paula Maya


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Paula Maya is an award winning Brazilian pianist, keyboardist, singer, songwriter and recording artist, nominated Best Brazilian Musician living in the US. Her new release New Perspective (Re-Mastered) is available now in all major digital platforms, officially released October 20th 2021 on Yellow House Records, re-Mastered by Grammy Nominated sound engineer Nick Landis. Listen and find all links now at

On April 30th 2021 she released the bossa nova single Corcovado (Ao Vivo) with an online concert celebrating International Jazz Day. The single was recorded live in Austin, TX, mastered by Grammy Nominated sound engineer Nick Landis. Listen and find all links now at

​Paula Maya has released ten albums, and have 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).

Paula Maya released her first album New Perspective on Wow Mom Records in 1995, a label in Houston, where she lived for four months after moving from Brazil, before heading to Seattle where she lived for many years. While in the Northwest she started her own record label Yellow House Records and her publishing company Palavras e Sounds, BMI, after the title track of her self released Resurrection First 1/2 was featured in the movie The Learning Curve. Paula  Maya released four more albums with her Seattle band, performed all over the Northwest and was voted Best Brazilian Songwriter by the Seattle Weekly.

A strong influence in Paula's music is the eclectic community of musicians from all over the world that she is a part of. Different genres inspire fresh music blends. Besides leading her own groups, Paula has performed with dozens of bands in a variety of music styles, from the legendary jazz /swing /MPB Orquestra Tabajara in Brazil, led by the great Severino Araújo, to the Seattle Medieval Women's Choir, led by the great Margriet Tindemans. She was a member of the Seattle based band Kalass for fifteen years, led by her friend singer, songwriter, guitarrist Ganga Clamoungou, from Chad, Africa. Paula has shared the stage with artists such as Caetano Veloso, Leila Pinheiro, Djavan, Vinicius Cantuaria, Teo Lima and Batacoto, Cyril Neville, Tab Benoit, Mitch Watkins and The Presidents of the USA.

Paula Maya is also a music educator and has been teaching private lessons in classical piano technique, harmony, music theory and improvisation for thirty years. In addition, she was invited to teach music workshops at the EMP Museum in Seattle (Museum of Pop Culture.) Currently she is a Show Director and also teaches piano, voice, music theory and songwriting workshops at Austin School of Rock (Anderson Lane). Paula Maya holds a degree in Music Theory from the Brazilian Conservatory of Music, and a degree in English language from Cultura Inglesa.

Maya has also dedicated time and energy to community service and considers herself an activist. She volunteered for over ten years with the Seattle Red Cross as an After Hours On Call Portuguese interpreter, and worked for fifteen years as a Portuguese interpreter in the Court System. For twelve years she co-hosted the weekly Brazilian radio show Raizes on KBCS 91.3 Seattle/ Bellevue College Radio, raising awareness of Brazilian music in the Northwest and beyond.

Born Paula Burle de Niemeyer, her family names have made a strong mark in the world, mostly in architecture. Oscar Niemeyer was the architect of Brazil's capital, Brasilia, and his structures can be found in many parts of the world including United Nations Building in New York City and Orly Airport in Paris. He was a cousin of Paula's father. Roberto Burle Marx, a cousin of Paula's mother, was a landscape designer whose work include Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Copacabana beach promenade in Rio de Janeiro and Longwood Gardens, in Pennsylvania. He was one of the first Brazilians to speak out against deforestation. His brother Walter, however, was a composer and pianist. In 1931 he founded the Rio de Janeiro Philharmonic and conducted numerous premieres with this orchestra, among them, the first South American performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. In 1947 Walter Burle Marx was appointed Artistic Director of the Rio de Janeiro Opera. In 1949 he left Brazil in order to become a permanent USA resident and devote himself entirely to composition. 

Paula's father, Luiz Carlos Niemeyer, was a lawyer. He passed away in 1998 in Rio de Janeiro. 'My dad loved the beach and was always in Ipanema as a teenager. He told me he would always see Tom Jobim there, and that suddenly one day he disappeared. Of course now we know why. Tom was creating one of the most influential music styles of all time!' Paula's mother, Maria de Lourdes Pereira Carneiro Burle, created her own version of yoga mouvements mixed with classical dance principles, and taught group and private lessons for many years. She passed away in 2020 in Rio de Janeiro.

Paula Maya

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