Wim Dijkgraaf

contemporary composer & jazz harmonica player

Maria João Mendes (PT)

Posted by on Sep 30, 2011

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The Exotic Voice of World Jazz!

I’m very happy to be featured artist for this amazing singer from Portugal; Maria Joao Mendes.


Official Website: http://www.maria-mendes.com

“Get to know the voice that enchanted Quincy Jones.”
– Jornal de Notícias, Portugal


“(…) wonderful singer (…) beautiful talent she possesses.”
– Sheila Jordan, USA

“(…) admirable and well done.”
– Helena A.M. Pereira in Semanário Grande Porto, Portugal

Miss Mendes is the winner of the 2009 edition of the prestigious Dutch Jazz competition “Nederlands Jazz Vocalisten Concours”. Well known Jazz singers like Wouter Hamel, Francien van Tuinen and Carmenn Gomes were winners of previous editions. Besides the award she won participation in the 2010-2011 theatre tour of Jazz Impuls.

Recently, Maria João Mendes was awarded with the 3rd prize on the important “2010 Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition”, as part of the famous Montreux Jazz Festival. The president of the jury was jazz legend Quincy Jones, who praised the talent and vocal abilities of this young lady. Miss Mendes was selected out of 75 singers from all over the world to be at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. In the history of this important competition she is the first Portuguese being selected and therefore the first Portuguese getting an award.

On the International Jazz Vocal Competition “Jazz Voices 2010” Maria João Mendes was awarded with two prizes: the 2nd prize overall and the 1st prize for Improvisation.

In 2008, Miss Mendes got the 3rd prize at the “Brussels Young Jazz Singers Competition”. This competition had David Linx and Dani Klein (Vaya con Dios) as members of the juri.

In The Netherlands, Maria João Mendes was awarded with the “Your World Publieksprijs” of the competition “Prix du Port”. This is a competition initiated by the biggest European port, the Port of Rotterdam in order to nominate the best young artist from Codarts Rotterdam.

Still in The Netherlands she was nominated for the ERASMUS Jazz Prijs in Rotterdam, as well being awarded with the prestigious HSP Scholarship NufficNetherlands given by the Dutch government to outstanding international students living in The Netherlands.

Maria João Mendes (1985) graduated at ESMAE Music School in Porto (Portugal) where she got her bachelor degree in Jazz singing.
From 2007 untill 2009, Maria João completed her Master degree in Jazz and Brazilian Voice Studies at CODARTS Rotterdam Conservatory. During 2009 she combined her Master studies at the Rotterdam Conservatory with her studies at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, where she studied with David Linx.

From older experiences/projects, some in Portugal/others abroad:
– Maria João at the age of 20, was invited to join the famous Jazz Portuguese Group TRUPE VOCAL with whom she performed concerts and Jazz Festivals in Portugal and abroad;
– In 2007 Maria João was invited by Zé Eduardo, the famous Portuguese double bass player, to join the Portuguese tour of EMJO – European Movement Jazz Orchestra, a project lead and created by the European Union involving young and talented Jazz musicians from Portugal, Germany and Slovenia.
– In June 2008 Maria João Mendes was invited for Woma Jazz Festival in Italy, the only jazz festival in Europe that hosts female music groups.

She studied with:

  • Fay Claassen, during her bachelor degree in Portugal and as well during her Master in The Netherlands
  • David Linx, during her Master in Brussels, Belgium
  • Connie de Jong and Josee Koning, during her Master in The Netherlands
  • Luciana Souza, 25 Seminari Internacional de Jazz, Spain
  • Jay Clayton and Sheila Jordan, New York
  • Rhiannon, Joey Blake and David Worm, ”Vocale improvisatie door 3 topzangers uit het vocale ensemble Voicestra van Bobby McFerrin”, in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  • Leny Andrade, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Maria Pia de Vito, Italy

Dominique Eade (USA), Kristina Fuchs (BE), Sanna Van Vleigt (NL).
She also did workshops with Diederik Wissels (pianist, composer), Guinga (brazilian guitar player and composer), James Carter (tenor sax), Charlie Haden (double bass), Jason Linder (piano), Steve Wilson (sax), Joe Martin (double bass), Mark Turner (sax).

She had the privilege to play with famous international musicians such as Thomas Gansch, Karel Boehlee, Hans van Oosterhout, Rembrandt Frerichs, Sal La Rocca, Guinga, Nelson Faria…

Her debut album will arrive to the audience soon!

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