MARIA - PERFORMING ARTIST
As a young girl all Maria wanted to do was sing, she was greatly influenced by strong female vocalists such as Janet Pascal and South African singer Malie Kelly (Current Vocal Trainer to the popular T.V show IDOLS) , who she now esteems as one of her good friends. She would listen to their music and study them as much as she could, but the main thing she learnt from them was the love of music, singing and most of all, their love for the Lord. She had the privilege of spending a day with Malie Kelly in vocal training which could ultimately be seen as a dream come true.
MALIE KELLY, MARIA & JACQUES VAN DER WESTHUIZEN
At age 5 Maria won her first singing competition and had many invitations to sing at weddings, churches and shows. Her soulful voice made her a favourite among her school's music teachers and she was often asked to sing in school concerts and choirs and she was proud to represent her school as the soloist at local churches they had been invited to.
At a young age of 15 Maria met her husband, Jacques van der Westhuizen and ministered around the Eastern Cape with his late father, Nicky van der Westhuizen. During that time she entered a popular local competition in Port Elizabeth called The On The Go Show, where she earned a 5 minute standing ovation and walked away with The Best Female Vocalist Award. It was in that competition that Maria was dubbed "The Little Lady With The Big Voice". Included in her prize was a 4 hour session in a Port Elizabeth studio with a great producer Andrew Greeff. The 4 hour session had turned into a 5 year recording contract with Grace Music, offered to her by business man, Manie Steyn. Maria got to work closely with Andre Greeff for the duration of that time. He can be seen as one of the greatest influences in Maria's teen years and being a worshiper himself, he knew exactly what she wanted to accomplish through every song she recorded.
Her first Cd; 'I CALL HIM LORD' was released in 1994 'SIMPLY MARIA' followed by her second Cd released in 1996. In 1998 she was a semi-finalist in South Africa's FNB Music Awards.
During those years she also worked on a Christmas Cd 'A TIME TO SHARE' with two well-known Port Elizabeth artists as well as working with American singer Dudley Smith on a Cd while he was in South Africa.
With the Christmas Cd, she did a lot of travelling sharing the good news of Christmas and Christ’s birth in different prisons across South Africa and was never daunted by singing in maximum security prisons. They also took A Time To Share into schools and churches and travelled South Africa extensively with the great message of Christmas.
She was called back to The On The Go Show, but this time as an adjudicator alongside Johannesburg singer and music producer, Dennis East and artist, Kurt Darren. Before age 20 she had shared the stage with singers such as Don Francisco, D.C TALK, Lisa Beville, M.I.C and a many number of well-known South African Artists. She has had the privilege of ministering at Conferences with International preachers such as Jimmy Swaggart, Rodney Howard-Browne, Myles Munroe and Rick Godwin and took many words of advice from these great men of God. One of Maria's highlights was when she had the honour of ministering at one of Angus Buchan's meetings and was greatly impacted by his words over her and her husband.
In 2005 Jacques and Maria opened the doors to Revival Worship Centre and have seen the ministry grow in leaps and bounds in a very short period of time.