Maud Cuney-Hare, African-American musician and writer, was born in Galveston on February 16, 1874, to Adelina (Dowdy) and Norris Wright Cuney. After graduating from Central High School in Galveston in 1890, she studied piano at the New England Conservatory of Music, where she successfully resisted the pressure that white students exerted on the school's administrators to have her barred from living in the dormitory. She graduated in 1895. She also studied privately with biographer Emil Ludwig and Edwin Klare and attended Lowell Institute at Harvard University. She taught music at the Texas Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Institute for Colored Youths in 1897 and 1898; at the settlement program of the Institutional Church of Chicago during 1900 and 1901; and at Prairie View State College (now Prairie View A&M University), Texas, in 1903 and 1904. In 1898 she married J. Frank McKinley, and they had a daughter. The marriage was short-lived and ended in divorce; their daughter died in childhood. She married William P. Hare on August 10, 1904.
As a folklorist and music historian she was especially interested in African and early American music. She collected songs in Mexico, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, and was the first music scholar to direct public attention to Creole music. She contributed to Musical Quarterly, Musical Observer, Musical America, and Christian Science Monitor and for years edited a column on music and the arts for The Crisis, the journal of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
After her marriage, she made her home in Boston and traveled in the East to give recitals and lectures. She participated in the artistic life of Boston and founded the Musical Art Studio to promote concerts and a little-theater movement in the black community. Antar, her play about an Arabian Negro poet, was staged in Boston under her direction in 1926. In 1927 she established the Allied Arts Center in Boston to nurture musically-inclined and artistically-inclined African American children. She was the author of Creole Songs (1921); The Message of the Trees (1918), a collection of poetry; and Norris Wright Cuney: A Tribune of the Black People (1913), a biography of her father. She is best remembered for the highly regarded Negro Musicians and Their Music (1936). She died in Boston on February 13, 1936, and was buried beside her parents in Lake View Cemetery, Galveston.