Mara!

Australia

Acclaimed worldwide for her distinctive voice, Mara Kiek is an authority on Bulgarian vocal technique, song, and folk music.

Her 35-year career has included performances and recordings in styles ranging from folk to early music, and rock to improvised music. Mara was female artist of the year in the Australian World Music Awards in 2000, and has been the recipient of two ARIA's (Australian Recording Industry Awards).

In 1988, with the assistance of the Australia Council's Performing Arts Board, Mara travelled from her native Australia to Bulgaria for six months of study in folk music, choral music, and conducting.

Upon her return to Sydney, she recruited around 40 singers and formed the Martinetsa Choir, modeling the ensemble after the magnificent Bulgarian state choirs. Martenitsa has since become one of the most highly regarded and innovative choirs in Australia.