“I remember really enjoying her voice, and just her ability to merge Jazz, Blues, Folk, Pop - all those elements seem to be brought together in her music." "She really does a great job .. (Oh, Legs!) is a fun, fun song. Each of the songs is different. I love what she does with the creation of these tracks.”
— DC Music Rocks, Aaron Tinjum & Brian Nelson-Palmer
Cynthia Marie Dillard is a pianist, songwriter, & teacher with a background in classical, jazz, blues, and folk music. She is a Honolulu Symphony Best and Brightest concerto competition winner, Berklee College of Music summer performance program songwriter showcase winner, and a graduate of the University of Washington School of Music in Seattle, WA, with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. She studied classical piano with Bonnie Litten and Ann Tanabe, and more recently boogie-woogie piano with Caroline Dahl, and jazz piano with Debbie Poryes.
Cynthia is a recipient of the Maryland State Arts Council Independent Artist Award, Jackstraw Artist-in-Residency, and Seattle Mayor’s Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs’ Smart Ventures grant. She has produced two full-length albums and one EP of original music, and was a commissioned composer for Gamelan Pacifica and Washington Women in Jazz Festival. Her music has been performed on a variety of radio programs including Voices from the DMV, Takoma WOWD-LP, and NPR’s WAMU Bandwidth. She is a regular performer at the Takoma Park Folk Festival’s Crossroads Stage, sponsored by Strathmore.
As a collaborator, she appears as pianist and/or vocalist, songwriter, or producer on a discography of over 18 recordings with artists from coast to coast such as Jason Masi, Elena & Los Fulanos, Jahnel Daliya, Summer Januaries, & Steve Olof Larson. As an arranger, she has published over 35 sheet music arrangements sold internationally on Sheet Music Plus, and is the author of new piano primer, Piano Studio with Cynthia Marie.
She has performed her songs in Boston, Seattle, DC, Maryland, Virginia, New York, Philadelphia, North Carolina, and Breschia, Italy. She resides in Maryland, where she enjoys teaching piano to her students at Mike’s Music in Ellicott City, MD, music and chorus at Holy Child, and students from coast to coast online at her Columbia Piano Studio.
“Piano feels like home, my songs are the heart, and improvisation is joy for me.” - Cynthia Marie
A seasoned pianist with a love for improvisation, CYNTHIA MARIE is passionate to create. From jazz & blues to folk, pop, and original works, her eclectic songs dance with ease and emotion. Her latest album “Harbor" has been featured on WERA.FM, Voices from the DMV, FEMchord, DC Music Rocks, Takoma Radio, Hometown Sounds, and WAMU Bandwidth. She has been a collaborator to a diverse array of bands and musicians throughout the DMV area, both on stage in the studio.
CYNTHIA MARIE grew up playing classical piano, studying with Bonnie Litten and Ann Tanabe. Under the guidance of Ann Tanabe, she went on to win the Honolulu Symphony’s Best & Brightest Concerto competition at age 17. In addition to repertoire, she enjoyed listening to the boogie-woogie piano of Jerry Lee Lewis, jazz saxophone, and all the hits of the 90's. She began songwriting in high school and continued to write while attending UW School of Music in Seattle. Here she found her voice in a small piano room, and began singing in the vocal jazz choir. She starting experimenting with jazz and improvisation and accompanying singers and other instrumentalists on piano. After an inspiring summer at Berklee's summer music program, winning a spot in a songwriter's showcase, she began playing out her original music in Seattle coffeehouses, and upon graduation, commenced gigging around town with local musicians at an array of popular venues such as Egan's Ballard Jamhouse, Conor Byrne's, and Chapel Performance Space.
In 2010, she received Jackstraw Artist in Residency support for her debut CD release “Golden Tree Story: Openings”, and 2013, the Seattle Mayor’s Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs Smart Ventures Grant to create a community welcome concert for the International Rescue Committee upon releasing her 2nd album, “Beyond EP”.
Since arriving on the east coast, CYNTHIA MARIE has been featured regularly in The 9 Songwriters’ Series, Columbia lakefront concerts, Takoma Porch & Folk festivals, DC’s 1st Asian-American Songwriter showcase, Washington Women in Jazz Festival, and performed at favorite DMV venues such as: IOTA Club, Jammin’ Java, Atlas Performing Arts, the Athenauem, Ebenezers, and the Black Cat DC. In addition to Seattle, DC, Maryland, and Virginia, she has also performed her songs in New York, Philadelphia, North Carolina, and Breschia, Italy.
In 2020, she received a Maryland State Arts Council Independent Artist Award recognizing her achievements in the arts. She is currently immersed in the world of boogie-woogie and blues, and looks forward to making a new album in 2022. Stay tuned!
"Centered around piano and voice, the songs explore a theme of love in its many forms - at times vulnerable, playful, nostalgic - and at other times empowered, emotional, and reflective. This album includes friends & local musicians from the DMV, as well as long-time Seattle collaborators. With diverse arrangements including flute, sax, guitars, strings, a great rhythm section, synths - each song fills a unique space in this journey."
Golden Tree Story "Beyond" EP
“Golden Tree Story is like a fine elixir, a tonic for the soul. This music contains compassion and careful listening, as well as an inner joy that manifests in carefully constructed melodies. One ear is tuned to tradition, the other to the future, and from their instruments and voices comes a beautiful song. Recommended for anyone in need of rejuvenation." Rob Hinrix, ROCKiT Community Arts