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Maria Ellis (BM '17)

The power of music first stirred within Maria Ellis while growing up in St. Louis listening to and learning from her father and his siblings singing in their choir. Mastering The Chapman Singers’ soprano, alto and tenor parts sparked a passion that led Maria to become the conductor of her church’s youth choir at age 12. Her lifelong passion continued at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, where she received a BM in music education with an emphasis in voice in 2017. Through her personal, academic and professional experiences, Maria has always been motivated by the connection between music and the human bond.

Maria Ellis

"Music is a powerful tool that unites us all,” Maria said. “When we are singing in a choir or playing in a band, our differences are replaced by our collective goal at that moment – to make beautiful sounds." 

Today, Maria is a creative force whose impact reverberates across multiple music fronts. As founder of Girl Conductor, Maria brings more diversity to the field of music conducting, particularly when it comes to women of color.  

"More and more women and people of color are making their way to the conductor’s podium," Maria said. "It is inspiring to see the diversity that is emerging in the field."

Maria travels the country conducting, teaching choirs and providing voice lessons, while leading professional development workshops for music teachers. In June, she made her Carnegie Hall debut, conducting 100 singers from various choruses around the country. Maria is also the founder and artistic director of the City of Music All-Star Chorus at The Sheldon Concert Hall and will direct the new UMSL community choir, Voices of Jubilation Ensemble, open to UMSL students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members, beginning this fall.  

When she is not leading the way for future generations of singers and music educators, Maria is behind the microphone as the award-winning host of "Bach and Beyonce" and "American Gospel with Maria A. Ellis" on Classic 107.3, The Voice of the Arts in St. Louis.