María José started performing at the Studio last year. Since then, she’s performed alongside Diana Gameros, María del Pilar, and Alejandro y Maria Laura. Upon hearing and, more so, experiencing her music, it became evident that there was a lot at play lyrically, musically, and spiritually. We began to learn about her work as a student of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the interplay and inspiration she pulls from her frequent visits into nature. Over the past year, we often found María José making her way back to the Studio to see other performances and take classes.
With the Studio’s goal of supporting the exploration of transdisciplinary practices, our curiosity brought us to María José Montijo’s work. In this Residency, we’ve invited Montijo to explore all aspects of herself and her work. What was of interest to her was to explore her work as a musician and healer; her experience as a Puerto Rican woman living in diaspora; and her values with respect to how she builds community and interacts with the world through her music and healing work.
We’re eager to witness the work she’ll share and create at Studio Grand. The Residency will be comprised of a series of performances and workshops, commencing with her Sunday, March 8th, performance on International Women’s Day where she'll be joined by Laura Ashley Brown. We hope you’ll join us for this experience. The sweet and thoughtful spirit of María José is equivalent to that of sitting in a forest where trees speak gently and the wind refreshes.
The intent of this Residency is to build connections between music performance, creativity, meditation, and healing. There will be a series of concerts starting March 8th, International Women's Day, and continuing through the month of May. I will be collaborating with artists that preserve Latin American folkloric musical traditions, represent the Caribbean Diaspora, and/or focus their musical practice around community building, storytelling, and healing.
This Residency, with its educational and social objectives, is an outgrowth and extension of my current artistic practice which is primarily musical but with extra-musical elements. My approach, which could be described as "La Musica es Medicina" or "Music is Medicine," is the marriage of many years of practicing different healing modalities while also developing the healing power of music. When I perform on stage, I bring with me my experience as a Puerto Rican woman in diaspora, my connections to a cosmic experience, and, with a clear heart and mind, I transmit love and light.
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.
Her music is also informed and nurtured by her healing path. María José is a Traditional Chinese Medicine student, biodynamic cranial touch practitioner, and bodyworker that has been immersed in the healing arts for over thirteen years. María José is extremely passionate about the body’s capacity to heal. This inherent intelligence that every body possesses the foundation from where true healing and health can be made manifest.
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.