|Birth name||Maria Luisa McKee|
|Born||August 17, 1964|
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Genres||Pop rock, alternative country, country-rock, rockabilly (early)|
|Labels||Geffen, Viewfinder/Little Diva, Eleven Thirty, Cooking Vinyl|
McKee was a founding member of the cowpunk/country rock band, Lone Justice, in 1982, with whom she released two albums. Several compilations of both previously released and unreleased material and a BBC Live In Concert album have been released since their demise. Her band opened for such acts as U2.
When she was 19, she wrote Feargal Sharkey's 1985 UK number one hit "A Good Heart", a song she has since recorded herself and released on her album Late December. Sharkey would later go on to also cover "To Miss Someone" from McKee's self-titled solo debut, on his third solo album "Songs From The Mardi Gras". In 1987 she was featured in the Robbie Robertson video "Somewhere Down the Crazy River", (directed by Martin Scorsese) and contributed back-up vocals to his debut solo album, which included the song. She released her first solo, self-titled album in 1989.
Her song "Show Me Heaven", which appeared on the soundtrack to the film Days of Thunder, was a number one single in the United Kingdom for four weeks in 1990. She refused to perform this song in public up until recently,[why?][when?] when she sang it for the first time in eighteen years, at Dublin Gay Pride. Following her debut, McKee has released five studio (and two live) albums. The album Life Is Sweet debuted McKee's lead guitar work described as "feral" by Mojo magazine. The raw postmodern album (produced by Mark Freegard) represented a smash up of her roots rock persona and is seen as a demarcation event in her career. It is now considered a minor classic and currently out of print. The later three, High Dive, Peddlin' Dreams and Late December, were released independently via her own Viewfinder Records label (distributed in the UK via Cooking Vinyl).
In 1995, Bette Midler recorded McKee's tracks, "To Deserve You" and "The Last Time" for her platinum album "Bette of Roses". In 1998, The Dixie Chicks recorded McKee's "Am I the Only One (Who's Ever Felt This Way?)" and included it on their Grammy nominated album Wide Open Spaces.
McKee was featured on the 2014 compilation Songs from a Stolen Spring that paired Western musicians with artists from the Arab Spring. On the album, McKee's performance of the Tony Joe White song "Ol' Mother Earth" was meshed with "I Still Exist" by the Egyptian band Massar Egbari.
Session and guest work
In addition to writing Sharkey's hit "A Good Heart", McKee has also contributed to the Victoria Williams' tribute album Sweet Relief, on the song "Opelousas (Sweet Relief)". She has also provided backing vocals to U2's cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" (B-side of 1992 "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" single from their Achtung Baby album), as well as to the Counting Crows' 1993 debut August and Everything After on "Sullivan Street" and "Mr. Jones". On Robin Zander's 1993 solo album she sang backing vocals for the track "Reactionary Girl". She also sang backing vocals on Robbie Robertson's debut and self-titled solo album, on the track "American Roulette". Much lesser known is her contribution of lead and co-lead vocals on two tracks on a contemporary Christian praise and worship album called "Come As You Are".
She performed "If Love Is a Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags)", the only original song on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. McKee also contributed a song "Never Be You" for the soundtrack to the Walter Hill movie Streets of Fire. She recorded a duet, "Friends In Time", with The Golden Horde on their eponymously titled album in 1991. She also recorded another duet, "This Road is Long," with Stuart A. Staples on his 2006 album, Leaving Songs. In addition she co-wrote the duet, titled "Promise You Anything," with Steve Earle which appeared on his 1990 album, The Hard Way. She teamed with Dwight Yoakam for a duet on "Bury Me," from his 1986 debut, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. McKee contributed the lyrics and vocals to the song "No Big Bang" on the only album by The Heads, No Talking, Just Head, also playing guitar and synthesizer on the song together with the band, mostly ex-members of Talking Heads.
In 2013, McKee and her husband, Jim Akin self released their first independent feature film After the Triumph of Your Birth through their production company, Shootist Films. The film was written, directed, shot, recorded, and edited by Akin and features McKee (who co-produced) in her acting debut as an ensemble cast member. They scored the film together and the soundtrack was released in 2012. The star of the film is drummer Tom Dunne. After the Triumph of Your Birth screened at both The Cinefamily [clarification needed] and American Cinematheque Los Angeles,[clarification needed] followed by a live music set performed by McKee, her band (including Dunne on drums and Akin on bass) and several cast members. The film continues to garner slow and steady support from cinephile blog critics and niche movie fans, as Shootist Films are now in the final production days of their second feature film.
In 2009, McKee's short story, "Charcoal" was featured in Melville House's short fiction anthology, Amplified: Fiction from Leading Alt-Country, Indie Rock, Blues and Folk Musicians.
- As stated by Maria before playing the song on Live - Acoustic Tour 2006
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 339. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Songs From A Stolen Spring". Valley Entertainment. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
- "Maranatha The New Jesus Music". Crossrhythms.co.uk. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
- "Surf Music and Seventies Soul: The Songs of 'Pulp Fiction'". Rolling Stone magazine. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- "The Golden Horde - Friends in Time video". Retrieved September 13, 2011.