Maria Isa

Born and raised in the Twin Cities to NuyoRican parents, emcee, singer, and songwriter Maria Isa is recognized for her dedication towards celebrating her cultural diversity through music and political activism. Read more about Maria Isa.

Maria Isa is also profiled in a Twin Cities Public Television's mn original production. View the video.

Posts about Music

Puerto Rican Salsa legend Jose "Cheo" Feliciano dies in car crash

Posted by: Maria Isa Updated: April 17, 2014 - 11:50 AM

Above: Jose "Cheo" Feliciano, Legendary Salsa singer and composer died this morning in a fatal car accident in Cupey, Puerto Rico.

I woke up to sad news this morning with a list of tweets informing me that legendary salsa composer and singer Jose "Cheo" Feliciano has passed away in a fatal car accident.  According to the Puerto Rican police reports, Feliciano was driving alone in his Jaguar when he lost control on Highway 176 in Cupey, Puerto Rico just after 4am.  The 78 year-old man who was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico is known for his Fania hits "Anacaona," "Mi Triste Problema," "Busca Lo Tuyo," "y El Raton," and the list goes on.

Jose was influenced at a young age by the bolero music of Trio Los Panchos and at 8 years old, he formed his first group "El Combo Las Latas," (The Cans Ensemble), influenced by their musical instruments being made out of cans.  Feliciano attended the Free School of Music in Ponce after finishing his primary education where he studied and became a percussionist.

In the early 50s, Cheo moved from Ponce, Puerto Rico to New York City's Spanish Harlem.  It was there in El Barrio where he was offered to play in the Tito Rodriguez Orchestra. Shortly after he networked in the Latin music scene with Tito Rodriguez, he became a lead vocal in Joe Cuba's Sextet.  His baritone voice, charm and improvisation skills made him a favorite in Latin music and opened up the doors for him to sing with the Eddie Palmieri Orchestra in the late 60s for years.  

Above: Cheo Feliciano and Eddie Palmieri.

During the 70s, Jose broke sales in the Latin billboard charts recording, composing and touring many hits for the Fania All Stars and in the early 80s, Feliciano formed "Coche Records," becoming the first tropical singer to perform at the Amira de la Rosa Theater in Colombia. Feliciano also persued an acting career in 1987 and landed the role of Roberto Clemente's father in the musical "Clemente."  Cheo was currently working on a project with Panamanian composer, singer and actor Ruben Blades, but the album's release date still has yet to be determined.


Above: Ruben Blades in the studio recording Cheo's latest work and a picture of the two singing with Fania All Stars in the early 80s.

We will miss you Cheo and I am grateful to have been raised on your music, voice and style.  Descanza en Paz Caballero. Una voz de Borinquen que canta ahora en el cielo...aqui en este mundo seguimos tocando, bailando y cantando tu musica. 

Here's a few videos of my favs from Cheo Feliciano. 

Cheo Feliciano and Santana "El Raton."

Black Irish by Empire Status

Posted by: Maria Isa Updated: March 17, 2014 - 8:00 PM

After a long fulfilling week at SXSW with over a handful of showcases and being an original St. Pauly girl, I only feel right to post a song honoring St. Patty's Day.  Take a listen here to a song I was honored to collaborate on rappers/producers Muja Messiah and Bobby Raps for their Empire Status project.  The Empire Status album was influenced by the prohibition-era gangster drama Boardwalk Empire. 

While slamming your shots of Jameson and chasing it down with a tall glass of Guiness, enjoy and sing-a-long with the hook while you dance with the luck of the Irish, and ignore or participate in the crazy drunkeness happening all across American streets tonight. 

"We run boardwalks to whisky in Ireland..

Started a fire with what we're blazing call a fireman...

Hear the grand piano, pistols, baby doll....

The world is yours and you can have it all!"

Muja Messiah and Bobby Raps (Photography by Tony Nelson). 

Muja Messiah and Bobby Raps (Photography by Tony Nelson)

Empire Status album available now on itunes

Follow Muja Messiah and Bobby Raps on Twitter:

Nazeem: The New M.P.L.S Rap Rifle

Posted by: Maria Isa Updated: March 15, 2014 - 12:51 AM



The Twin Cities has a strong history of local musicians making their mark and taking over the SXSW Music Festival and this past Wednesday evening 18 year-old, South Minneapolis rapper Nazeem took charge of every minute he had on the mic.  

Nazeem, who leaked January 1st,  the first song off his upcoming mixture produced by Spencer Joles, was definitely a crowd favorite at this year's SXSW MN Hip Hop Showcase presented by Dante Entertainment at the 6th street Austin venue The Blind Pig.

"Performing at SXSW was a goal I had set 2 years ago, after releasing my first project The Coliseum at the 2012 Soundset," states Nazeem. "I was glad to have my family there supporting me and the crowd was really cool too."




Growing up on the Southside of Minneapolis, and graduating from Southwest High School last June, the rapper and songwriter born Nazeem Jalees Cunningham is now a student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College , and for 5 years has been working at Youthfarm, a non-profit organization focused on building youth led food movements in the Twin Cities.  He was recently promoted as the Harvest Coordinator at his job, all while writing and recording his new mixtape produced by Spencer Joles.  

His name is being heard around the Twin Cities as a best kept secret.  With a feature on his father, veteran rapper Muja Messiah's upcoming project God Kissed It The Devil Missed It  and this May's release of Atmosphere's Southside album, the new kid out the booth is bound to collect a fan base while educating a new generation of hip-hop fans through revolutionary bars set to shake your mind and tell a story.  

"Nazeem killed it at the MN Hip Hop showcase here at SXSW! He had the crowd focused and responding to his catchy hooks like his songs were already a billboard hit on the radio," expressed Twin Cities producer, rapper and friend Bobby Raps of Audio Perm who took part in DJ-ing Nazeem's debut set at SXSW. 

Nazeem performs at the SXSW MN Hip Hop Showcase. (Video by D.Potts/T.Mortenson)


I am proudly looking forward to hearing more from my favorite new Minneapolis rapper and seeing his career as an artist and activist grow on stage as well as in the hip-hop community.


Party and Power to the People y'all! -M.I.


Nazeem backstage at the SXSW MN Hip Hop Showcase in downtown Austin's The Blind Pig venue. Photo by Judy Hanks
Nazeem backstage at the SXSW MN Hip-Hop Showcase at downtown Austin's The Blind Pig. (Photo by J.Hanks)

Be sure to check out Nazeem's music available at


and his latest release "January 1st"


Follow Nazeem on Twitter @NazeemMusic

Spreading Jazzmine Love at Hollywood's Xen Lounge

Posted by: Maria Isa Updated: February 25, 2014 - 8:54 PM

Maria Isa performs her song Jazzmine Love at Tisha Campbell's R&B showcase at North Hollywood's Xen Lounge.  Following up the Grammy weekend last month, Isa had the opportunity to perform right before platnum singer-songwriter Anthony Hamilton and in front of diva-vocalist Faith Evans at the popular Studio City venue.  Isa is currently working on her upcoming album Valley of the Dolls off SotaRico and In The Groove Records with production by Andrew Bergen, Bobby Raps and Truthmaze.  Be on the look out for the first single Sabatoge to be released in March honoring Women's History Month.  

Isa will be performing in Minneapolis this Friday February 28th at Aria at Jeune Lune 105 North First Street for the Heart of the Party presented by CD5 -DFL hosted by State Senator Bobby Joe Champion with special guest including Congressman Keith Ellison and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.


Releasing Latinization. Pesos + Roses = Street Luv

Posted by: Maria Isa Updated: May 8, 2013 - 7:37 PM

Last winter I was in the studio mastering my January release The Latina Ritual Project (SotaRico 2013).  It was then where I teamed up with In The Groove Music to put together "Latinization" an Urban Latino, Pop Fusion album fit for a sexy, classy action packed joyride around the globe with production by Young Mennace and Andrew Bergen.

My birthday was May 1st...blame it on my momma why I love to celebrate what I like to call MARIA ISA MAY with the release of my new album collaboration with Urban/Pop producer and songwriter Young Mennace titled "LATINIZATION"

with music off the album to be featured in this month's release of Fast and the Furious Xbox and PS3 Games.



Keep posted and hope ya digg it Twin Cities!




First Single and VIDEO off Latinization: 


"Street Luv" by Villa Rosa (Maria Isa and Muja Messiah) 


Directed by Kale Eickhof








Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters