Maria Gillard is a talented singer, songwriter, and educator from the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. Best known as a folk musician, she has grown to embrace a wider style range including jazz, swing, and blues. Currently, she leads the Maria Gillard Trio, accompanied by Perry Cleaveland on mandolin and vocals, and Elaine Verstraete on Stand Up Bass and vocals. As a soloist, she is revered in folk and bluegrass circles, often toting a mandolin and singing impeccable harmonies.
Her compelling voice draws you into her lyrics which, when combined with memorable melodies, head straight for the heart. Maria’s songs offer wise, humorous, and sometimes painful observations on life and relationships. She tells stories through her music in ways that are soul stirring, evocative, contagious, lively and energizing. When you listen to Maria’s songs, you feel her heartache and, more often, her joy and delight at life’s experience. She has a warm, inviting, natural flair, which leaves audiences wanting more and coming back!
As an educator, Maria received a bachelor’s degree in Music from SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. She is a music instructor and directs a vocal jazz ensemble at Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua, New York. She has worked for the Aesthetic Education Institute as a teaching artist, given concerts and held workshops in schools and nursing homes for many years. She teaches private voice, piano and guitar lessons in her home and has toured as a folk musician throughout the northeast.
Maria Gillard sings from the soul, with a clear-eyed vision that cuts straight to your heart. Every time Maria sings, I learn something more about me.
— Julia Figueras, WXXI