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Maria Kebu

Singer,  musician

Kyiv, Ukraine

KEBU is a stage name of the Ukrainian singer and songwriter Maria Kebu, who was born in Kiev. The musician's parents, famous Ukrainian philosopher and artist, gave their daughter a rich cultural background and, according to Maria herself, a lot of inspiration.

 

When asked how long she's been singing, the musician usually answers: "As long as I can remember." The singer's first instrument was the piano, which is still a good companion for her. To deepen her musical experience, Maria graduated from Music School No. 1 named after Y. Stepnoy, where in addition to her instrumental skills, she gained experience in choral a cappella singing, which is still noticeably reflected in the musician's work. Despite her further higher cultural education, Maria continued to study music: experimenting with different musical directions in the cover band Mockingbird and in occasional collaborations with street musicians in Kiev, the singer honed various manners of singing until she lit up a new passion, namely ethnic music of the peoples of the world (world wide music). In addition to different vocal techniques, during this period Maria mastered quite a number of ethnic instruments (vargan, tambourine, flutes, etc.). The ethnic period of the singer came exactly in the years of studying at the university, so the study of ancient cultures and religions served as a source of constant inspiration for her.

 

After her graduation and the breakup of two ethnic bands (Dervid, Drevo Zhyvy) Maria became a permanent member of Kiev jam sessions and started her solo project KEBU. As her improvisational vocal skills have been improving over the last 5 years due to her regular practice of performing at mixed musical jam sessions, Maria's solo work has become more and more succulent, profound and distinctive.

In addition to realizing her own creativity, the musician also developed her teaching skills. "Teaching was not my initiative," says the singer, "I started giving lessons upon request of my first students and was very surprised and happy to see the real results of our work together." This led to the creation of the Honest Vocal Circles project, where Maria and her partner teach vocal improvisation in circles to everyone, regardless of the level or experience of the students. "Every student is a teacher. We have no hierarchy in our classes: everyone exchanges experiences, communicates, and this allows for a safe and comfortable space to discover the skills and talents of everyone present in the circle. Our classes were often even therapeutic for people," the singer shares.

 

While teaching and leading a solo project, Maria takes part in the activities of the 30-year old jazz group R.J.Orchestra in Kiev. "I guess I was one of the few underground freaks who performed on the Philharmonic stage without a degree in music," Maria ironically says of R.J.Orchestra's last performances before the start of the 2022 war escalation.

 

The solo project of the singer KEBU is a series of collaborations with different artists. The performer considers unique people around to be the greatest value, which is why she usually creates her music in collaboration with other musicians and producers. Thanks to collective creativity in a friendly atmosphere, the project’s music mixes different sounds and genres in search of new combinations. The basis of each track in the KEBU project is usually a composition created entirely from the singer's vocal parts. "It's always an unpredictable and incredibly interesting process of turning my work into something completely different, from something personal to general, from mine to ours. It's like pushing the boundaries of your own self and getting rid of the illusions that keep you from having a real, valuable connection to your surroundings," the singer says about her feelings.