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Marika Hughes

Brooklyn, NY         

Marika knew she had to play the cello when after 9 years of playing the violin, she held a cello for the first time and played the C-string; the lowest string. She was 12 and in the NYC shop of Mosa Havivi, a former student of her grandfather, the great cellist Emanuel Feuermann. That low end seduced Marika, she switched to the cello and ended her violin studies.
Growing up in NYC, Marika was exposed to a varied creative life. Her parents owned a jazz club on the Upper West Side, she was a regular on Sesame Street, was a member of New York Youth Symphony, spent summers at the chamber music camp, Greenwood, was a student at festivals in Europe and busked in NYC with her high-school string quartet. After completing her studies at Barnard College in political science and cello performance at the Juilliard School, Marika moved to San Francisco, CA.
Marika spent her early twenties serving coffee and exploring the northern coast of California, all the while playing in local symphonies. Eventually she was able to leave the service of coffee and fine dining behind and began to teach private lessons at private and public schools in the Bay Area. She also enjoyed three years as the cellist for the grammy nominated, Quartet San Francisco.
Realizing that the symphony life was not for her, Marika sought out new musicians, some from the classical tradition, some not, to expand her repertoire and ears. Marika joined Carla Kihlstedt and Shahzad Ismaily in 2 Foot Yard. The band released two CDs; 2 Foot Yard (Tzadik, 2005) and Borrowed Arms (Yard Work, 2008). She founded the band Red Pocket with Jewlia Eisenberg and they released their CD, Thick, on Tzadik’s Oracle Series. She also joined Jewlia’s a cappella trio, Charming Hostess. She is a featured singer on that band’s release, “Sarajevo Blues” (Tzadik 2005). She toured regularly throughout the United States and Europe with 2 Foot Yard and Charming Hostess. And she toured extensively with singer/songwriter Vienna Teng. Marika recorded for many artists in the Bay Area including Honeycut, Tom Waits, Etienne de Rocher, Mr. Bungle, Xiu Xiu and Santana. She also recorded commercial and film scores.
In 2006, Marika decided it was time to come home. Since moving back to NYC, she has enjoyed playing with many local musicians she has long admired. In addition to joining the NYC based bands of Neel Murgai Ensemble, Imani Uzuri and Charlie Burnham’s Hidden City she has performed and/or recorded with Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, Sean Lennon, Valerie June, Morley, Joey Arias, David Byrne. Lou Reed, Ani DiFranco, Iron and Wine, Dar Williams, Eric McPherson and Jolie Holland. She has appeared on The David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon Late Night shows.
Marika has released two albums under her own name. Highlighting her stylistic versatility and virtuosity, Afterlife Music Radio – 11 New Pieces for Solo Cello (DD Records), features new works written for her by her friends/colleagues including Nasheet Waits, Jenny Scheinman and Carla Kihlstedt. The Simplest Thing (DD Records) celebrates Marika’s debut leading her own band and singing her own songs. She is currently working on the debut album from her band, Bottom Heavy.
With the support of the organization TriadTrust, Marika produced the album Marula’s Shade; a CD of original songs written by young artists/activists in rural South Africa from the Nkomazi region. In an area plagued by HIV/AIDS, this young, South African troupe called ImprovEd, uses music, drama and improvisation to educate elementary school age children about prevention, testing, care and treatment.
In addition to her cello duties, Marika has enjoyed being a guest host for Terrance McKnight’s radio show, All Ears on WQXR in NYC. And she has been a featured storyteller on the Moth. Marika lives in the countryside of Brooklyn, NY. www.marikahughes.com