Maria McKee is best-known as the former lead singer of Lone Justice, a band that combined rock, blues, soul, punk and country. Her solo work during the past decade has moved away from roots and Americana music and more toward alternative rock. She has released her first new studio album in seven years, called High Dive.
In the 1980s, Los Angeles band Lone Justice got lost in the music business shuffle. They were too pop for country fans, and too rootsy for the mainstream pop audience, so they decided to go their separate ways. In 1990, lead singer Maria McKee scored an international hit with the song Show Me Heaven from the soundtrack to the film Days of Thunder.
In 1996, she released her breakthrough solo album, Life Is Sweet. Maria abandoned her alternative country style, and produced an eclectic mix of 1970s-flavored rock and Broadway musicals. Maria admits that, as a child, she always wanted to attend the Julliard School of Music in New York City and study to become a Broadway artist.
Maria's new CD, High Dive, includes arrangements that range from horn and string accompaniment to simple piano notes, and features elements of rock, pop, folk, jazz and funk. Her voice has been compared to that of the late classic rock diva, Janis Joplin.
Over the past few years, Maria McKee has collaborated with former member of The Band, Robbie Robertson, and joined a variety of Irish artists for a series of concerts for the Dublin AIDS Alliance.
For her latest album, Maria chose producer Mitchell Froom, known for his work with artists such as Elvis Costello, Suzanne Vega and Richard Thompson. Maria co-wrote all the songs with her guitarist, Jim Akin. The CD was recorded on her own Viewfinder Records label.
"I've never felt more satisfaction in my life as a creative person," she said. "I don't want to malign the major labels, but at some point the system can be stifling."
Maria is currently on tour in Europe, with U.S. dates to follow. On her official website, Maria also explains to fans that without a major label to finance their tours, she and her band may not get to as many cities as in the past.
"It's not that it's not important to us to play there, it might just be too expensive for us to get there," she said.