STORY WRITTEN BY ROB NAGY
For Digital First Media
Synonymous with the classic sounds of the 70’s, vocalist Maria Muldaur rose to international prominence with the 1974 hit “Midnight at the Oasis.” Forever enshrined in the soundtrack of the baby-boomer generation, Muldaur’s Grammy hit remains her signature song. “Midnight at the Oasis” was just a happy accident,” recalls Muldaur, while on tour in upstate New York. “I don’t write any of my songs, but I think I have a very good knack of knowing the very best songwriters and finding out how to get a hold of them when I’m doing a project.” “Midnight at the Oasis” was put on the album as an after thought,” adds Muldaur. “I went into the studio one day and it was decided that I needed a medium tempo song. So we put it on the album just to round out the album. We didn’t put it out as a single and the album was climbing the charts and that was the song that was getting the most requests. Well, the rest is history. It turned out to be wonderful!” “This song really moves everyone, and I really didn’t get it myself,” says Muldaur. “It’s like a musical dream in a Rudolph Valentino movie, a romantic fantasy. For some reason, people find that really sexy and really romantic. If I had been paying attention and written down the stories that people have told me about what they were doing when they heard the song, I could have published quite the little X-rated book. People say to me, ‘Are you tired of singing the song after all these years?’ and the answer is ‘no.’ I realize that, because of this song, I might not be missed at all.”
Despite her pop music success, Muldaur defines herself as an American Roots artist with a deep history and passion for folk, blues, bluegrass and Appalachia. Recording and performing all over the world as far back as the early 60’s, Muldaur has released an astonishing 40 albums, delving into gospel, R&B, Jazz and Big Band. She also recorded a handful of award winning children’s albums.
“It’s been decades since I started doing this,” says Muldaur. “The music I intended to do was not having anything to do with pop. I was doing Americana music back in the 70’s. I really call it American roots music. My musical repertoire is informed by all the early pioneers in country music, people like Hank Williams, Ralph Stanley, and early blues people like Bessie Smith. It’s timeless music that addresses the universal concerns of the human heart, and people are still moved by it.”
Over the past twenty years, Muldaur has comfortably settled into a career of sharing her love of the blues in the studio and on stage, which she calls bluesiana music, while continuing to pay homage to her 70’s mainstream pop success. Her 2001 Grammy nominated album (“Richland Woman Blues”) was recognized by the Blues Foundation as the Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year.
In 2008, Muldaur released her “Yes We Can!” album, featuring her “Women’s Voices for Peace Choir,” including luminaries Joan Baez, Bonnie Raitt, Jane Fonda and Phoebe Snow, among others. Her follow-up album release, “Maria Muldaur & Her Garden of Joy” (2009,) garnered Muldaur her 6th Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year by The Blues Foundation. To mark the 40th anniversary of “Midnight at the Oasis” in 2014, Maria created a multimedia retrospective of her career called “Way Past Midnight,” celebrating her 50 years as an artist. The release contained visuals, her hits and more obscure song selections accented by personal stories, adventures in show business and her friendships and collaboration with some of the biggest names in show business. “Way Past Midnight” is available through her website.
“I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on the incredible music in this rambling odyssey through American roots music over all these years,” says Muldaur. “So, I put together a show called “Way Past Midnight.” It’s sort of a retrospective. I decided I would bring some tunes out of retirement and put them back in the show. So, I’ve been touring with “Way Past Midnight” for the last couple of years. I’m touring with my red hot Bluesiana band, which is a power trio. So, this year we are out doing the Bluesiana show and “Way Past Midnight.” At the Kennett Flash, it will be a combination of both.” “It has just blown my mind with so much time passing,” adds Muldaur. “I’m still here and I’m still going strong. I still have great ideas and great projects to do. I realize what I’m doing is something that is happening under the radar, but I’m very satisfied. Time flies when you’re having fun!”