Originally from Denver, Colorado, Margaret Slovak is a guitarist, composer and painter. She began playing the guitar at the age of 11, composing at age 14, and performing professionally at age 16. Margaret studied jazz and classical music and visual art, receiving her BFA in jazz studies from the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington in May, 1986. She also attended the Kansas City Art Institute, University of Missouri Conservatory of Music, and the Banff Centre Summer Jazz Workshop in Alberta, Canada. Margaret received several scholarships for her schooling, and studied with such renowned musicians as Ralph Towner, John Abercrombie, Dale Bruning, Gary Peacock, Dave Peterson, Kenny Wheeler, Don Thompson, Art Lande, Hadley Caliman, Jim Knapp, Milo Petersen and Julian Priester.
After graduation, Margaret spent two years in Denver, Colorado, where she studied with guitarist Dale Bruning, continued composing, and performed around the Denver area. In 1988, she moved to New York City, where she spent five years leading her own band and performing her original music in clubs and cafes. While in New York, Margaret had the opportunity to perform and record with Fred Hersch, Michael Formanek, Michael Sarin and Joel Weiskopf; she also performed with the Peruvian folk/jazz group, Antara. While in NYC, Margaret produced two recordings of her original material. In addition, Margaret embarked on several tours of the western United States, and toured through Germany in the fall of 1991, performing her original quartet music. In 1994, Margaret relocated to Portland, Oregon. In the summers of 1994 and 1995, she toured with her group, which included Bob Moses on drums, performing in Portland, Seattle, and British Columbia, Canada. In the fall of 1996, Margaret toured through Germany and the Czech Republic, performing with a jazz quintet and also as a soloist. She has also performed extensively in Portland, Seattle and California as a soloist and in duos, trios, and quartets.
Margaret also performs therapeutic music for patients in hospitals, hospice, cancer treatment centers and senior care settings. While in Portland, she was contracted by Good Samaritan Hospital, Emanuel Hospital, and OHSU Hospital, playing for patients in ICU, oncology, trauma, pediatric and neurology units. Margaret also served as a volunteer musician at Hopewell House Hospice in Portland.
Margaret moved back to New York in 2008, where she performed in a variety of venues in the New York City area as a solo guitarist and in small jazz ensembles. Margaret also worked as a hospice musician for Jansen Hospice, located in Tuckahoe, New York. In addition, she played for and taught guitar lessons to war veterans at the Bronx VA Medical Center in the Bronx, New York from 2009-2012.
Margaret relocated to Austin, Texas, in May, 2012. She currently performs throughout the Austin area in restaurants, bars, art galleries, senior care centers, memory care units, chemotherapy infusion rooms and cancer treatment center waiting rooms, hospital lobbies, and for private parties and events. Some of her healthcare performances have been sponsored by an amazing Austin non-profit organization, Symphony of Soul. Margaret also plays for hospice patients independently and through the wonderful Austin non-profit Swan Songs.
Margaret teaches guitar and music theory privately, and was an adjunct faculty member of Marylhurst University, Portland State University, Portland Community College and Mt. Hood Community College in Portland, Oregon. In addition, Margaret was the recipient of twelve performing and recording project grants from Portland's Regional Arts and Culture Council between 1995 - 2007.
As a composer and guitarist, Margaret combines elements of jazz with classical and world music, creating a unique and highly personal musical style that is deeply expressive. Margaret is also a painter, and creates images which reflect her musical compositions; she sometimes presents solo concerts in which her paintings are displayed on stage while she performs her corresponding musical compositions. Margaret's artwork also appears on the covers and inserts of her recordings. In 1998, Margaret released her first CD, Undying Hope, which contains her solo guitar compositions. Her second CD of original solos and duos, New Wings, was released in 2005. Her third CD, For the Moment, was originally recorded in NYC in 1989, but was not released until 2007; this disc features her compositions for a jazz quartet that includes Fred Hersch on piano, Michael Formanek on bass, and Michael Sarin on drums. In addition, one of her compositions from this quartet CD is included on a compilation CD entitled Proximity, which was released by 21 Cent Records in 1998. Margaret also performs one of her compositions along with steel-string guitarist Doug Smith on a 2001 compilation CD, Sundays at Central Library. In addition, one of Margaret's songs appears on Bridges, a compilation CD released by Pacific Oncology Group in 2007.
Margaret's music has received national and international airplay on radio and satellite programs, and segments of her compositions have been featured on NPR's Morning Edition news program. In addition, Margaret's music has been used in independent films worldwide.