Maria Väli is an Estonian jazz singer, composer and arranger for whom music and singing is something she has been doing for all of her conscious life and she has been lucky to be learning from great teachers from early on. One of her first teachers was a well-known Estonian guitar player Tiit Paulus who introduced Maria to jazz music and took her to many performances where they played jazz standards in addition to various Estonian songs. As a teenager, Maria collaborated with many young musicians from her home town with whom it was exciting to experiment and improvise with different musical ideas.
After secondary school, Maria went to study jazz music in the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and graduated with a Master’s degree. One of the most influential teachers there was Kadri Voorand whose knowledge and musical and vocal skills Maria has valued highly and she’s looked up to her ever since.
For a year, Maria studied as an exchange student in Trondheim where she met a well-known Norwegian pianist and composer Terje Bjørklund whose lessons in composing Maria attended to. The year in Trondheim ended with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Maria – she was asked to sing as a soloist in Bjørklund’s composition “Sacred Concert” together with Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, Women’s Choir Embla, conductor Torodd Wigum, and a very versatile Norwegian trumpet player Arve Henriksen in Trondheim Jazzfestival.
Maria participates in various projects and bands. One of the most active groups is an a cappella ensemble Estonian Voices which released their debut album Ole hea (Be Good) in 2014 and has got more and more recognition ever since. Maria has led her own band Maria Väli Quartet to perform original compositions and in 2013, the quartet released an album Life Is Like the Sky. The newest collaboration for her is with one of the best Estonian chromatic zither player Laura Lindpere and a great Armenia-born double bass player Ara Yaralyan in a trio called Kolm Kõla. Together they experiment with the opportunities of bringing different musical backgrounds into pop-, folk- and jazz-influenced music.
Music has taken Maria to different places around the world – she has performed at jazz festivals and concerts in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Switzerland, the USA, the United Kingdom, and Singapore.