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Maria Sangiolo's deeply-emotive soprano vocals have inspired comparisons to Joan Baez, Shawn Colvin and Carolyn Hester. According to Sing Out! magazine, Sangiolo "sings sweetly like a songbird". The St. Paul Pioneer Press noted that "Sangiolo's voice is clear as crystal".
Sangiolo's highly-literate songwriting, however, marks her as a very unique artist. Using words to examine affairs of the heart, Sangiolo has successfully reflected on her role as a woman on her own or in the midst of a relationship.
Sangiolo's vocals talents come naturally. The niece of a well-known opera singer, Sangiolo has sung most of her life. She didn't take music seriously, however, until graduating from Simmons College in Boston with a degree in communications in 1988. Sharpening her skills at local open mics, Sangiolo quickly attracted attention. Sangiolo's recording debut came with three duets — "Project Girl," "Vagabonds," and "Ordinary Women" — that she performed with comical songwriter Don White on his album, Two Vagabonds In Disguise.
Sangiolo's two self-produced albums — Hard Words in 1992 and Eyes of the Heart (1993) — sold more than 50,000 copies. Co-produced by Brooks Williams, Eyes of the Heart reached the number one slot on the charts compiled by Boston folk music radio station, WUMB, and was included on the Adult Trendsetter Radio Top Ten by the Maverick Report in Austin, Texas.
Sangiolo has released two nationally-distributed albums. Follow Your Own Heart, released in 1997, was produced by mandolin and guitar player John Curtis of the Pousette-Dart Band. Blue Earth, released in 1998, was produced by guitarist Jim Henry and featured guest appearances by Cliff Eberhardt on background vocals and Brooks Williams on 12-string and slide guitars. Although Sangiolo's earlier albums focused on original material, Blue Earth mostly showcased her interpretative abilities with songs by such singer-songwriters as Guy Clark/Vince Gill, Townes Van Zandt and Don White.