The Caribbean native, Maruja Bogaard, born on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao, was probably predestined to be an artist. Born to a musical father and a mother whose name was synonymous to dancer-actress-singer, it seemed only natural that she would follow such footsteps. However, in their words, she far exceeded them. From the tender age of 2 ½ she appeared in her first "TV performance" and soon after she was recording albums. At the age of six she won an international singing contest, as the youngest contestant, leading to her first international tour. A personal highlight was her performance for the Queen of the Netherlands at only nine years of age.
During her teens, Maruja fell in love with the soulful sounds of Gospel music. It was this genre of music that allowed her to develop her musical talents greatly, by personally being able to learn from and share with such industry greats as Vicky Winans and Babbie Mason, just to name of few. Her enormous zeal for the perfection of her art was rewarded with several awards for her two Gospel recordings. Among these were awards for Best Female Vocalist, Best album, Song of the Year, and Entertainer of the Year. To this day, Gospel remains one of her favorite styles of music and can be found interlaced in her music like a thread.
With aspirations covering both the artistic as well as the intellectual scope, Maruja studied at the University of Georgia, in the U.S.A., where she graduated with a Bachelor's in Radio-TV-Film and earned a Master's degree in Mass Communications. Also her academic achievements were rewarded, when she was inducted as a member in the Golden Key National Honor Society.
But her artistic side pulled hardest. She spread her wings, seriously taking on dancing and acting (something she had also done extensively in her youth), and starred in various musicals, including a professional run as a headliner in a rendition of the Off-Broadway musical "Nonsense", at the Highlands Playhouse in North Carolina. Maruja later on joined the corporate band "U.S. Beat" and performed as one of the headliners in cities all over the U.S., for various big events, including the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta Georgia.
Maruja's next stop was the Netherlands. Having lived in the U.S.A. for many years, and having grown up in the Caribbean, she wanted to experience European culture. This opened another door of musical influences. In the Netherlands she recorded and released 3 singles, and had the honor of working with the "World's best DJ", Tiesto (Tijs Verwest). Together they wrote an internationally aired Coca Cola commercial, and Maruja sang the track to the song. This brings up another one of her aspirations, to be an accomplished songwriter as well as a performer. She is currently co-writing with various accomplished and famed writers, trying to learn as much as possible from their expertise.
Today Maruja has come full circle. She comes back to her Latin American roots, with an album mixing the swinging sounds of salsa and other Latin rhythms with her soulful undertones. Singing in Spanish, one of the five languages she speaks (she hopes to one day speak to as many of her audiences as she can, in their native tongue), Maruja gives her personal touch to some of the greatest songs made immortal by the Queen of Salsa herself, Celia Cruz.
Maruja has been called "the white girl with the black voice", been named a role model for the youth by the government of her country, and has been lauded for her prevailing simplicity of character. But her life and her achievements thus far, have been a mere inspiration and a confirmation to her daily affirmation: reach for the moon, and you just might land on the stars. All the while living by her personal motto: Faith, not fear!