You are about to experience the magic of Maria Woodard. This Phoenix-based singer and recording artist was described by Papa John DeFrancesco, father of legendary jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco, as "a breath of fresh air." Come and savor a short escape from the rigors and routines of everyday living in today's fast-paced tempo, and let Maria and her music take you to the worlds of tranquility and peacefulness, love and romance. Maria is a unique voice that will surely bring a smile to your soul and spirit. This singer's life is a most unique and quite colorful story. Maria was born in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico on August 2nd, 1951. As a child Maria loved to sing with her grandmother. Music and education would play important roles in her life in the years to come, and her singing would one day take her to faraway places. Maria and her family moved away from Mexico in 1965. Her father, a kind and wonderful Filipino named Felix Benigno Agagtang, was very supportive of her and supported her wholeheartedly in anything she wanted to accomplish. He wanted his daughter to be educated in the United States. Maria's mother is Petra Beningo Guzman Lopez, the strongest woman Maria has ever known. In 1965, Maria's parents were migrant workers who worked in Arizona and California. Maria and her parents marched with Cesar Chavez and his supporters during the early days of the start of the United Farmworkers Union, and the entire family were very much involved in the movement. Not long after Maria's family was in the U.S., her father suffered a tragic accident when he was run over by a tractor. Her mother returned to Mexico to work to support the family. Maria remained behind to take care of her father and brother. She worked after school and on the weekends to help her family. It was during this time that Maria turned to music as a release. She would sing and listen constantly to music. Maria's professional singing career began at age 24 in a club in Mexico. Other club engagements followed in Mexico and Phoenix, Arizona. Maria graduated from Arizona State University in 1978 and became an elementary school teacher. In 1981 Maria wrote a song called Necesito de tu Amor (I Need Your Love) which placed third in the television show La Oti. It was at one time a very popular talent competition program similar to today's American Idol. Maria sang in Mexico City, and she intended to continue to sing there, as well as work on getting her Doctoral degree in Anthropology at La Universidad Autonoma de Mexico. But Maria discovered that she did not like life in the big city and returned to Phoenix. Maria continued to teach and sing. She and her trio played a five-year run at the La Posada Resort. Other Valley appearances included the Camelback Inn, the Hyatt Resort, and the Scottsdale Princess Resort. Maria had her first encounter with Brazilian music and immediately fell in love. As a result of wanting to get to know the music and culture up close, she went to Brazil and stayed for a year. After returning from Brazil, Maria began studying voice with A.S.U. voice teacher Dr. Pamela Phillips. Dr. Phillips invited Maria to go to Italy and study opera at the University of Florence. Maria sang in Geneva, Switzerland and Paris, France. In 1995 Maria received her Masters Degree in Multi-Disciplinary Studies. In 1997 she received an Administrative Degree. Maria also has a Superintendent's Degree, and in 2006 received an Endorsement in Early Child Education. All of her degrees were awarded by Arizona State University. For years Maria has continued her remarkable dual careers as an educator and a singer. She takes great pride in teaching countless students, many who have achieved success. And she loves the notion that she brings happiness to audiences with her singing. Maria came from very humble beginnings, and has never forgotten her origins. She is always helping others, giving free concerts to help raise funds for various organizations. Maria is deeply involved in the Valley community and performs every year, along with trumpeter Jessie McGuire at the Police and Firefighters Chili Cookout. She has been described as a "person who exudes humility and generosity with a certain grace." Maria's philosophy is simple: to make people smile with her music. She's been doing that for over 30 years, and hopes to continue for many more years to come.