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Artist Spotlight – December 2022

Marija Droze – December Artist Spotlight

As we close out the year of 2022, I am excited to introduce you to my first artist that was born and raised in another country. Have you ever wondered about music in other countries? Thoughts like; does is sound the same, is it composed with the same instruments, do they listen or follow music from the US or other countries, do they have the same opportunities, and etc. Recently I was able to learn more about my December Artist and I am excited to share a little insight into Marija Droze, my December Artist Spotlight.

Marija was born on April 14th in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Lithuania is known for its landscapes, flatland, forests, and lakes. Vilnius is located in the southeastern part of Lithuania. It is also the second largest city in Baltic States but it is also on track to be number one before 2025. The Lithuanian language is one of the oldest languages that still exist today. Lithuanian is part of the Baltic languages and is older than Celtic, German and Greek.

Like many artists, music has been in Marija’s life ever since she can remember. While singing throughout the younger years, she also evolved from “playing with an instrument” to actually “playing an instrument”. The first instrument that Marija learned to play was a Kankles. A Kankles instrument is a traditional Lithuanian folk string instrument that lays across your lap. It is played by using one hand to cover the unnecessary strings and plucking other strings with the other hand. Honestly to me, after looking it up, it looks like a harp laid on its side with wood underneath. From this she started learning how to play the piano around the age of eight. Few years later, Marija was introduced to country and bluegrass music and fell in love immediately. That love navigated her to playing the guitar and a little, literally a little, bit of banjo. For ten years during regular schooling Marija also studied music. After graduating high school, she started studying classical vocal in Lithuanian Music and Theatre Academy.

Similar to the US, there are festivals annually in Lithuania along within other different countries, such as Poland, Germany, Switzerland and etc. Marija has been able to play at the Visagino Country festival a few times with different bands. Although the fact of having festivals yearly may be the same, the style and knowledge of bluegrass and country music in Lithuania is drastically different than the US. Marija mentioned that the genres of country and bluegrass are not big there at all.

Marija feels that a lot of people have never had the chance to be familiarized with country and bluegrass music causing them to miss out on a lot. As folk and classical music are the popular styles of music in Lithuania, Marija leans toward American music, especially older American music. Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Keith Whitley and Johnny Cash are a few of the artists that Marija considers her favorites, from the time of discovering bluegrass and country to now. Over the years she has embraced the fact of music evolving, as most things in life do, and loves experimenting and creating new music. The most important part of evolution in music to Marija is that the root of the genre is respected! I totally agree!

During a Bluegrass Festival in Lithuania one year, Marija had the chance to meet Peter Rowan. Peter Rowan, member of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, was her first ever bluegrass hero. Not only did she get to meet him, but she also had the privilege of being his guide while he stayed in Lithuania. The only thing that would have made it all sweeter would have been if she was able to play with him. Along with Peter Rowan, Marija has always found Alison Krauss, Sonya Isaacs, and Dolly Parton as inspirations. She hopes one day that she will be able to share the stage and play with them. Two of the most memorable moments in Marija’s life were being able to play along-side her husband at the Grand Ole Opry and meeting Dolly Parton in a small diner one random day. If she does not get to the share the actual stage, she would love to do a collaboration with Alison Krauss or Dolly Parton.

Marija may have her hero’s just like you and I but she also has someone in her life that means just as much as any other hero. Marija was playing at the Visagino Country Festival one year and met Billy Droze. Billy is an artist himself and was also performing that year. After singing during sound check and having a great show, Billy caught up with her later that night and asked her if she would marry him. Although it might have been a quick ‘knee reaction’ on his part after hearing her sing that night, it definitely came true later. Billy and Marija got married and had children. While Billy continued the music route, Marija stayed home to raise the children. As they grew older, she was able to jump back into her music career more often. After raising a family and supporting Billy, Marija has now released her first album! This album has many years of growth, love and time. Marija is extremely excited about it. She is hoping that you all will enjoy hearing her true feelings that she expresses through the music.

If Marija could give any advice to young women that are hoping to raise a family and pursue a music career, she would tell them, “to keep going and don’t stop! If you want something bad enough, you can work out problems along the way. Hard times will not stop a determined mind and heart.” As much as it means to give advice to the young ones coming up, Marija would love to be able to see her beloved grandma again as she passed while she had already moved to the states. Marija would love to be able to tell her that her dreams are coming true. Marija knows that her grandma would be proud of her.

Marija is proud of herself and has been waiting for many years for this moment! Again, she is so excited about her first album that was released today and available for everyone to have. If her album is anything like her two singles (‘The Night We Fell’ and ‘Cry Baby Cry’) that she released this year, I can’t wait to hear the new album. Marija has a smooth sounding voice, and the instrumentals are spot on with the songs.

Fast Firing Fun Facts:

What is your favorite Holiday and why? Christmas for sure. It is the time I get to spend with the people I love, and the Holy Spirit fills the whole house with peace.

Do you have a nickname? No nickname but I hear so many different ways of pronouncing my name from people. The ‘J’ really throws people.

Do you have a pet-peeve? Hearing someone chew loud

What is your favorite drink? Would have to say water or wine, it is so hard to pick between the two.

What is your favorite type of vehicle? A horse. Uhm, or a sports car.

Do you have a hobby outside of music? Love caring or riding horses. I have been crazy about them ever since I can remember.

What is your favorite kind of Ice Cream? Vanilla

What is your favorite junk food? Any kind of candy

Do you have any pet(s) and what are their names? I have two dogs (Dory and Mufasa), four cats (Violet, Rocky, Sarabi, and her sister) and a Guinea pig named Pigachu

What is your favorite book that you have read or author that you like to read? Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

News or Upcoming news from artist:

Marija has a new album that was released today from RBR Entertainment. The name of the album is “Marija with a J” and I have to admit, I love the title. The album has many writers but to name a few, it has Billy Droze, John Scott Sherril, Chris Myers, Jim Parker and more. Marija’s favorite song on the album is “Run” because ever since she heard it about 15 years, the melody, meaning and harmonies all together gave her goosebumps every time. Marija is over the moon and SO EXCITED about the new album release.

Website for artist, tour dates and/or merchandise:

Check out the artist/band website for all their new songs, tour dates and merchandise. The best way to support our local broadcasters and artists are through their sales – CDs, albums, shirts and etc. Let’s show our support – go check their website.