Maria Grever was a pioneering Mexican composer who gained an international acclaim for her numerous compositions that were later performed by some of the greatest artists of the day. You may have heard of Maria Grever’s hit song What a Difference A Day Can Make, translated from its origins Cuando vuelva a totu lado and which was later awarded the Grammy in 1959. It was performed by Jazz legend Dinah Washington. Grever wasn’t a one success phenomenon’ in any way the numerous achievements in music show.
Maria Grever (1885-1951) was born Maria Joaquina de la Portilla Torres in Mexico to an Spanish father and a Mexican mother. Grever showed a talent for music at an early age, and wrote the only Christmas carol at the age of four. When she moved to the hometown of her father’s Seville at the age of 1891 Grever was a student of the master musicians Claude Debussy and Franz Lenhard after which she went to music school in Mexico in the year 1900.
Grever released her debut album in 1912, titled The Una Ola(To A Wave) which was a huge success, selling millions of copies, and then went on to get covered by many artists. She was married in 1907 and got married to American Oil director Leo A. Grever, and they moved into the USA permanently in 1916.
In New York, Grever continued to compose and started work for Paramount Pictures and 20 20th Century Fox, writing background music for films. However, it was her captivating other pieces that combined traditional folk music, Bolero, tango and other styles that made her popular with audiences not just within America but also outside of the US but also around the world across Latin America and Europe. Grever composed over 800 songs and was believed to have the perfect pitch.
The first hit for Grever that was internationally acclaimed was Jurame (Promise Love, Promise) which was a habanera-bolero. Which was performed by Tenor Jose Mojica, and was then followed with Volvere (II Will Return) Te Quiero Dijiste. (Magic is the Moonlight)
The song was composed to accompany the 1944 Esther Williams film Bathing Beauty Cuando vuelva the side of you. (When I Return to the Side of Your Side) and”Por si no te vuelvo to see .(What do I do if I meet I see you once more). Other tracks comprise Tipitipitin (recorded by the Andrews Sisters as “Ti-Pi-Tin” from The Andrews Sisters). Para Que Recordar, Ya No Me Quieres, Tu, Tu y Tu (as recorded by Mexican Tenor Juan Arvizu in 1928), Que Dirias de Mi, Eso Es Mentira, Mi Secreto, Dame Tu Amor, Una Rosa, Un Beso, Despedida, Asi , Chamaca Mia, Todo Mi Ser, and Alma Mia.
Maria Grever died in New York in 1951 following an extended illness. She demanded that she lay to rest in Mexico City. Even though this formidable woman passed away too early however, she would not be forgotten over the next few years.
To honor her contribution to music and the arts, in recognition of her contributions to music. The Union of Women of the Americas (UWA) designated Grever as a ‘Woman of the Americas’ in 1952. The year 1953 saw Argentine actress and singer Latin America actor Libertad Lamarque played Grever on screen in Cuando Me Valla. (When I go away) A biopic written and directed by Tito Davison.
Three years after, Lamarque released a best-selling tribute to one of Grever’s most loved songs, titled “Librtad”. Lamarque canta canciones of Maria Grever.
Through Dinah Washington’s 1959 cover of What a Change A Day Can Do, Grever won a posthumous Grammy Award. The track was inducted into Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.
Although her name might be unnoticed in the present but her music continues to be played with her enduring style. That is still loved, widely performed and well-known throughout the 21st century. Century. Especially, Maria Grever, we thank you for your music.