The Marimba Kids
The first marimba band that Maria taught in the United States was a group of eleven- and twelve-year-olds in Brenham, Texas. As their repertoire and confidence grew, the Brenham Marimba Band performed at many fairs, festivals and events in the surrounding area, including the San Antonio Folklife Festival. The very first Chaia Marimba music CD was recorded by members of this band, who were teenagers by this time, and who could sing as well as play the marimba.
When Maria moved to Groveton in East Texas, she started a community marimba band there. The Groveton Marimba Band consisted mostly of local middle and high school kids, with a sprinkling of young adults. They soon started playing at local fairs and festivals, but their fame did not end there. After Maria’s marimbas were featured in an episode of the TV show Texas Country Reporter with Bob Phillips, the band was invited to perform for several years in succession at the annual Texas Country Reporter festival in Waco, Texas.
In 1999, having submitted a tape recording of their music to a radio competition called Talent for Towns Under Two Thousand, which was part of Garrison Keillor’s show on Minnesota Public Radio, the Groveton Marimba Band was selected as one of the six finalists. They traveled to Peoria, Illinois with all their instruments to play for a live radio audience of over two million, as well as a packed concert house, and were thrilled to win second place in the competition.
Maria left Groveton in the year 2000 to move to the Dallas area. Living in The Colony, Texas she started an informal band consisting of friends, neighbors and their kids. The Colony marimba players recorded the teaching CD’s for Maria’s next two books, Chaia Marimba Music Book 2 and Book 3. For Book 3, singers from the church musician program at Southern Methodist University formed the studio choir, along with visiting Zimbabwean Patrick Matsikenyiri, a lifelong friend and colleague of Maria’s late father.
Currently, Maria lives in Joplin, Missouri where she plays and sings with a group of adults and teenagers called Kufara Marimba Band.