Biography

“Mary Fineman’s lyrical approach to songwriting compliments her skill as a composer of unique and beautiful contemporary music.  Her singing and piano playing flow naturally together to deliver an expressive and  personal experience to the listener each time she performs.”

Dennis Edwards, Jazz Pianist and Former Production Coordinator A&M Records, Hollywood


Mary Fineman has created a unique idiom, and it’s not easy to classify. Some listeners will hear the music of Carole King or Laura Nyro in Mary’s songs. Others will be reminded of Schubert or Sondheim. The strength of her music is that it can evoke any one of these, and it all works. Her piano playing is stunning, and her voice is beautiful - at times earthy, other times translucent. Her melodies and lyrics stay with you long after a song has ended.


In 2014, with the help of a grant from the James Irvine Foundation and New Visions/New Vistas Commissioning Project, Mary composed an original orchestral score of four of her pieces. That song cycle, "It's About Love" was performed by the Oakland Symphony under the baton of Michael Morgan with vocalist Wesla Whitfield (with Mary as surprise vocalist in a duo with Wesla).

The path that led to Mary's writing for orchestra and performing was not straight forward. Originally from Baltimore, she trained as a classical pianist, studied music theory with Grace Newsom Cushman, and moved to Montreal to study piano with Philip Cohen and Lauretta Altman. In Montreal Mary taught at Concordia University and did jazz studies at McGill; she later taught at Temple Junior College in Texas. She worked as a freelance accompanist for instrumentalists and singers, and improvised for dancers for many years.

The music life she'd had was about to change abruptly, though. In 2003, after visiting a gifted "energetic healer", an entirely new facet of that music life emerged: Mary suddenly began hearing her own music relentlessly - music that had not existed before. And so she began composing out of the blue. (See Artist Statement if you'd like to learn more).

Working on the music she was waking up with every day, led (not surprisingly) to the desire to perform those works. And that meant pursuing vocal studies- the bulk of it popular music vocal work with Cary Sheldon as well as classical studies with Marcelle Dronkers.

Mary soon began performing her own work. She has performed in the San Francisco Bay Area at the Paramount Theater with the Oakland Symphony, at Piedmont Piano Company, Chapel of the Chimes, Goat Hall, and Opera at the Nave, as well as Steinway Piano and Grace Presbyterian Church with the Piano Composers of the Contra Costa Performing Arts Society. She has performed at numerous fundraisers, private events, and house concerts in the US and Canada, as well as West Coast Songwriter events.

Mary is involved in the on-going recording of her more than fifty songs and piano pieces, having released "Everyday Secrets", "Mary Fineman Solo Piano", and most recently, "You and Me" in 2016. She resides in Oakland, California, where she maintains a private teaching studio.