Studio Grand Presents María José Montijo and Zéna in String Theory: Harp Songs from Africa and the Americas


Studio Grand Resident Artist, singer, and harpist, María José Montijo and kora musician and singer Zéna unite for an evening of folk, soul, and experimentation to share traditional and original songs and stories from Latin America, the Caribbean, and the African Diaspora that explore space, time, and connectivity.



Zéna is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and artist based in the Bay Area. With her traditional training in kora (the West African harp), zéna combines a love for Appalachian folk, Delta blues and soul with classical African string music in  performances of traditional and original songs. She is inspired by the stories and folklore she encountered growing up, and her time living and traveling around the U.S., the Caribbean, Latin America, and East and West Africa. As a resident artist of the Red Poppy Art House in San Francisco, Zéna works in close collaboration with other artists in the Bay Area on interdisciplinary projects ranging from music composition, experimental film and shadow puppetry to arts education in East Africa .She is currently working on her first kora music project that combines harp music from Africa with experimental folk from the Americas.

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María José Montijo

María José Montijo’s life changed in 2009 on a beach in her native Puerto Rico, where a friend gave her a used Celtic harp. She began writing hypnotic, haunting songs for harp and voice that incorporate her eclectic musical interests.

María José’s songs grow out of an intuitive process of deep listening and the condition of being fully human in a confusing world. Her lyrics speak of paradoxes: mystery and certainty; doubt and faith; love and solitude; sorrow and connection; exile and feeling at home. Her music is informed by the images and rhythms of the natural world in all its vastness.

María José regularly performs throughout the Bay Area, both as a solo artist and with her band. In 2013, she was a featured new artist at Acción Latina’s 32nd Annual Encuentro del Canto Popular at the Brava Theater. In 2014, on the strength of her song “Estrellas” her band played Oakland’s Mayhem Festival, a juried music competition and performance series at the Awaken Cafe. She has headlined at the Red Poppy Art House, been a consistent presence at the Mission Arts Peformance Project (MAPP), and played at venues ranging from the Mission Cultural Center to the Hemlock Tavern to the Art in Nature Festival in the Oakland redwoods.

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$10-$15 sliding scale


** No refunds or exchanges are permitted. **