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After making her name as the gritty, soulful lead singer of roots rockers Lone Justice, Maria McKee embarked on an often-rewarding solo career. A native of Los Angeles, McKee was born in 1964; her half-brother was Bryan MacLean, the guitarist and sometime singer of the groundbreaking psychedelic band Love. After studying musical theater as a teenager, McKee started performing on the L.A. club scene in a duo with MacLean and also teamed up with local blues singer Top Jimmy (who inspired the Van Halen song of the same name). A roots-music scene sprang up in L.A. during the early '80s, and McKee -- a country music fan -- met like-minded guitarist Ryan Hedgecock; the two co-founded Lone Justice in 1982, and with McKee often composing material, the group became a local favorite. They signed with Geffen on the recommendation of Linda Ronstadt, but in spite of highly positive media attention, their two albums -- 1985's Lone Justice and 1986's Shelter -- failed to sell well, hampered by slick production and a sense of not-quite-fulfilled potential. McKee went solo after the latter record and released her self-titled debut in 1989, with Mitchell Froom producing.
McKee scored a critical breakthrough with her second album, 1993's You Gotta Sin to Get Saved, which was helmed by Black Crowes/Jayhawks producer George Drakoulias. Its rootsy, countrified rock and McKee's ever more powerful vocals led many reviewers to call it her most fully realized work to date. She went on to contribute the song "If Love Is a Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags)" to the hit soundtrack of Pulp Fiction, and in 1996 she released a third solo album, the much artier Life Is Sweet, on which she played all the guitar parts. McKee subsequently took a hiatus from recording, during which time she extricated herself from her deal with Geffen in search of greater creative control. She finally returned in 2003 with another ambitious record, High Dive. In 2004, McKee issued Live in Hamburg, her first released concert outing. It was followed by Peddlin' Dreams in 2005 and Live Acoustic Tour 2006. Late December appeared in 2007 from Cooking Vinyl Records.
Maria Luisa McKee (born August 17, 1964, Los Angeles, California) is an American singer and songwriter. She is best known for her work with Lone Justice and her 1990 UK solo chart-topping hit, "Show Me Heaven".
McKee was a founding member of the cowpunk/country rock band, Lone Justice, in 1982, with whom she released two albums. Several compilations of both previously released and unreleased material and a BBC Live In Concert album have been released since their demise. Her band opened for such acts as U2.
When she was 19, she wrote Feargal Sharkey's 1985 UK number one hit "A Good Heart", a song she has since recorded herself and released on her album Late December. The song was originally written about her failed relationship with musician Benmont Tench. Sharkey would later go on to also cover "To Miss Someone" from McKee's self-titled solo debut, on his third solo album "Songs From The Mardi Gras".
In 1987 she was featured in the Robbie Robertson video "Somewhere Down the Crazy River", and contributed back-up vocals to his debut solo album, which included the song. She released her first solo, self-titled album in 1989. Her song "Show Me Heaven", which appeared on the soundtrack to the film Days of Thunder, was a number one single in the United Kingdom for four weeks in 1990. She refused to perform this song in public up until recently, when she sang it for the first time in eighteen years, at Dublin Gay Pride.
Following her debut, McKee has released five studio (and two live) albums. The later three, High Dive, Peddlin' Dreams and Late December, were released independently via her own Viewfinder Records label (distributed in the UK via Cooking Vinyl).
In 1995, Bette Midler recorded Mckee's tracks, "To Deserve You" and "The Last Time" for her platinum album Bette of Roses.
In 1998, The Dixie Chicks recorded McKee's track "Am I the Only One (Who's Ever Felt This Way?)" and included it on their Grammy nominated album Wide Open Spaces.
McKee is the half-sister of Love guitarist Bryan MacLean, with whom she played in a duo as a teenager. She attended University High School in West Los Angeles, California, and is married to her bass player Jim Akin, who co-writes and co-produced her solo albums since High Dive in 2003. In the 1990s, she spent time living in Dublin and the East Village, before settling in her native Los Angeles.
Session and guest work 
In addition to writing Sharkey's hit "A Good Heart", McKee has also contributed to the Victoria Williams' tribute album Sweet Relief, on the song "Opelousas (Sweet Relief)". She has also provided backing vocals to U2's cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" (B-side of 1992 "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" single from their Achtung Baby album), as well as to the Counting Crows' 1993 debut August and Everything After on "Sullivan Street" and "Mr. Jones". On Robin Zander's 1993 solo album she sang backing vocals for the track "Reactionary Girl." She also sang backing vocals on Robbie Robertson's debut and self-titled solo album, on the track "American Roulette". Much lesser known is her contribution of lead and co-lead vocals on two tracks on a contemporary Christian praise and worship album called "Come As You Are".
She contributed "If Love Is a Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags)" to the Pulp Fiction soundtrack in 1994. McKee also contributed a song "Never Be You" for the soundtrack to the Walter Hill movie Streets of Fire.
Ricky Ross, of Scottish band Deacon Blue, wrote "Real Gone Kid" about her; the song became one of the band's biggest UK Top Ten hits.
She recorded a duet, "Friends In Time", with The Golden Horde on their eponymously titled album in 1991. She also recorded another duet, "This Road is Long," with Stuart A. Staples on his 2006 album, Leaving Songs. In addition she co-wrote the duet, titled "Promise You Anything," with Steve Earle which appeared on his 1990 album, The Hard Way.
She teamed with Dwight Yoakam for a duet on "Bury Me," from his 1986 debut, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.
McKee contributed the lyrics and vocals to the song "No Big Bang" on the only album by The Heads, No Talking, Just Head, also playing guitar and synthesizer on the song together with the band, mostly ex-members of Talking Heads.