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Q & A with Ana Maria Villa

How old were you when you first started playing?

I started singing at school when I was 5 years old. I was very musical at a young age so my music teacher invited me to sing a solo (my first ever!) in front of the whole school. I began formally studying voice by age 7 and added piano lessons at age 12. Both my father and grandfather sing and compose music and have inspired me all my life.

Where did you go to music school? What's your degree in? What did you study there?

I graduated from Berklee College of Music with a major in Performance and a minor in Music Therapy. Prior to Berklee I attended MISI in Columbia, a musical theatre company within a music college. In addition to the standard Berklee course work (Harmony, Ear Training, Composition, etc) I've studied Acting for Performing Musicians and because of my Music Therapy minor, I've taken courses in Music in Special Education and Child Psychology (Music Psychology).

What are your favorite kinds of music to play and why?

I love singing and playing almost every single Latin style there is! Growing up in Colombia I was always surrounded by Caribbean, Andean, Tango, Bossa Nova, Samba, Salsa, Son Cubano and Ranchera music which is forever rooted in my heart.

What are some of the musical styles you teach?

Everything! Pop, Rock, Jazz, Blues, Latin, Musical Theater. I teach all of these styles.

Where are some of the places you've performed?

I've performed at the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center in New York. In Colombia I performed musical theater at Teatro Colsubsidio and the Astor Plaza theater when I was a contestant for "La Voz Colombia" (the Colombian version of "The Voice"). In Boston I perform regularly in clubs, restaurants and venues across the city.

Who are some of your favorite bands and musicians?

 So many from all the styles I play and listen to! I love Rihanna, Adele, Coldplay, Ella Fitzgerald, Marta Gomez...

What are your other musical pursuits and accomplishments?

Through Berklee College of Music's Colombian Reintegration Agency Partnership, I spent two months volunteering as a Music Therapist for women and children suffering from PTSD as a result of my country's decades-long war. A quarter of a million people have died in this long, terrible war but millions more have been injured physically and psychologically and forced from their homes. Working as a therapist in Columbia has been one of the highlights of my career so far.

What are some of your artistic goals?

I sing and play in local Boston bands including Flamenco Boston. I would like to continue performing and growing as an artist and musician. I'm also a voice actress and a recording artist. I would also like to eventually return to school to earn a second degree (turning my Music Therapy minor into a major). I've also successfully made the artist database at "Cirque du Soleil" and may join their company at some point in my future career.

Tell us about your sound clips:

1) "Locked Out of Heaven" is a Bruno Mars song we recorded at Berklee. 2) "Despues que me olvide de ti" by Hector Ocha is a live recording from my senior recital performance. 3) This clip is from a reggae version of Cat Steven's "Wild World". 4) "Every Time We Dance" was written and produced by my Berklee colleagues Gunter Brenner and Anna Katarina.