Muldaur was born Maria Grazia Rosa Domenica D’Amato in Greenwich Village, New York City, where she attended Hunter College High School.
Muldaur began her career in the early 1960s as Maria D’Amato, performing with John Sebastian, David Grisman, and Stefan Grossman as a member of the Even Dozen Jug Band. She then joined Jim Kweskin & His Jug Band as a featured vocalist and occasional violinist. During this time, she was part of the Greenwich Village scene that included Bob Dylan, and some of her recollections of the period, particularly with respect to Dylan, appear in Martin Scorsese’s 2005 documentary film, No Direction Home.
She married fellow Jug Band member Geoff Muldaur, and after the Kweskin outfit broke up, the two of them produced two albums. She began her solo career when their marriage ended in 1972, but retained her married name.
Her first solo album Maria Muldaur, released in 1973, contained her hit single “Midnight at the Oasis”, which reached number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974. It also peaked at number 21 in the UK Singles Chart.
Later that year, she released her second album Waitress In A Donut Shop. This included a re-recording of “I’m a Woman”, the Leiber and Stoller number first associated with Peggy Lee and a standout feature from her Jug Band days. The title of this album is taken from a line in another song on the album, “Sweetheart” by Ken Burgan.
Around this time, Muldaur established a relationship with the Grateful Dead. Opening for some Grateful Dead shows in the summer of 1974 with John Kahn, bassist of the Jerry Garcia Band, which would eventually earn her a seat in that group as a backing vocalist in the late 1970s. Around the same time Muldaur met and eventually collaborated with bluegrass icon Peter Rowan. The two became close, and she was chosen to be his daughter Amanda Rowan’s godmother. She appeared on Super Jam (1989), the live recording of the German TV series Villa Fantastica with Brian Auger on piano, Pete York on drums, Dick Morrissey on tenor saxophone, Roy Williams on trombone, Harvey Weston on bass and Zoot Money, also on vocals.
Muldaur continued to perform, tour, and record after her success in the mid-1970s, including a turn at the Teatro ZinZanni in 2001.
Her 2005 release Sweet Lovin’ Ol’ Soul was nominated for both a Blues Music Award (formerly a W.C. Handy Award) and a Grammy Award in the Traditional Blues Category. In 2013, she was nominated for a Blues Music Award in the Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female)’ category.
Open Your Eyes
Warner Bros 1979
Tracks: Fall In Love Again, Finally Made Love To A Man, Birds Fly South (When Winner Comes), Heart Of Fire, Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be), Open Your Eyes, (No More) Dancin’ In The Street, Elona, Clean Up Woman & Love Is Everything.
Musicians on the Open Your Eyes album: Maria Muldaur, Robnem Ford, Amos Garrett, Doug Livingston, David Nichtern, Dean Parks, Jim Petteway, Feebo, Willie Weeks, Patrick Henderson, Bill Payne, Jai Winding, Peter Bunetta, Rick Shlosser, Ron Tutt, Victor Feldman, Bobbye Hall, Marshall Royal, Junior Walker, Bryan Cummings, Jim Gordon, Curt Sletten, David Woodford, Stevie Wonder, Becky Burns, Brenda Burns, Rodney Finney, Anthony Phillips, Greg Prestopino, Wendy Waldman & Pepper Watkins.
Warner Bros 1978
Tracks: Make Love To The Music, Say You Will, I’ll Keep My Light In My Window, I Got A Man, Cajun Moon, I Can’t Say No, Here Is Where You Love Belongs, That’s The Way Love Is, Joyful Noise & My Sisters And Brothers.
Musicians on the Southern Winds album: Maria Muldaur, Christopher Bond, Les Dudek, Amos Garrett, John Leslie Hug, Thom Rotella, Scott Edwards, Phil Aaberg, Mike Finnigan, Greg Prestopino, Ed Greene, Gary Coleman, Ernie Watts, Bobby Bryant, Chuck Findley, Jim Horn, Lew McCreary, Don Menza, Dave Burgin, Jim Anderson, Rosemary Butler, Greg Prestopino, Wendy Waldman & Pepper Watkins.
Reprise Records 1976
Waitress In A Donut Shop
Reprise Records 1974
Tracks: Squeeze Me, Gringo en Mexico, Cool River, I’m a Woman, Sweetheart, Honey Babe Blues, If You Haven’t Any Hay, Oh Papa, It Ain’t the Meat It’s the Motion, Brickyard Blues & Travelin’ Shoes.
Musicians on the Waitress In A Donut Shop: Maria Muldaur, Jim Gordon, Paul Humphrey, Earl Palmer, Amos Garrett, David Nichtern, John Collins, Greg Prestopino, Dennis Budimer, Lowell George, Jeff Gutcheon, Roger Kellaway, Paul Harris, Mark Jordan, Spooner Oldman, Freebo, Ray Brown, John Kahn, Red Callender, Bobbye Hall, Milt Holland, Emil Richards, Paul Butterfield, Harry Edison, Snooky Young, George Bohannon, Abe Moss, Plas Johnson, Bobby King, Terry Lee Evans, Greg Prestopino & Linda Ronstadt.
Reprise Records 1973
Tracks: Any Old Time, Midnight at the Oasis, My Tennessee Mountain Home, I Never Did Sing You a Love Song, The Work Song, Don’t You Make Me High (Don’t You Feel My Leg), Walkin’ One and Only, Long Hard Climb, Three Dollar Bill, Vaudeville Man & Mad Mad Me.
Musicians on the Maria Muldaur album: Maria Muldaur, Jim Keltner, Chris Parker, Jim Gordon, Ry Cooder, David Lindley, David Nichtern, Bill Keith, Clarence White, Andrew Gold, Tommy McClure, Chris Ethridge, Klaus Voorman, Ray Brown, Freebo, Jim Dickinson, Spooner Oldman, Greg Prestopino, Mark Jordan, Nick De Caro, Ellen Kearney, Karen Alexander, Gloria Jones & Betty Lavette.