Last fall, Peterborough native Mary-Kate Edwards, 21, decided the time had come to follow her heart.
And now singer-songer Edwards, just named as Emerging Artist at this year’s Peterborough, Ontario, Folk Festival (Aug. 18 to 20, 2017), will get to share her deliciously original “confessional folk song” lyrics and sounds when she opens for Buffy Sainte-Marie Aug 18 at Showplace Performance Centre and performs again the following two days.
“I hadn’t been doing music much the last two years. It wasn’t my heart and soul like it used to be,” she said in an interview with JOURNEY Magazine.
Feeling lonely after a break-up last summer, she chose to “get back to who I am”. She remembered that at age 14 she had promised herself, “If I’m not playing music, I might as well not be alive.””I hadn’t been doing music much the last two years. It wasn’t my heart and soul like it used to be,” she said in a recent interview with JOURNEY Magazine.
So she fought her fears of “people thinking it’s dumb or stupid” and just started to write and rewrite … and rewrite.
“My bigger fear was not doing it. I said ‘I’m dedicating the next months to music and making new friends’.”
The result was the release in March of her first-ever EP — titled “Blueberry Pie” — of three sad love songs recorded in January at the Peterborough studio of James McKenty.
The three songs are ‘Blueberry Pie’, ‘Sophia’, and ‘Never Mine’. Edwards plays piano on the first two songs and guitar on the third, plus she arranged string accompaniments and is backed up by numerous local talented musicians. Artist Holly Chang designed the album cover.
“I have all these wonderful friends now who have helped me with this project, who I met in the past four months,” she said.
Each of her songs start out as poetry, she explained.
“First and foremost they are confessional because all my music is based on personal experience, turning unfortunate situations into art and putting it somewhere else. The music I gravitate towards is very slow, emotional, and lyrical with pathos.”Each of her songs start out as poetry, she explained.
Edwards also plays ukulele, mandolin, bass guitar, keyboard and flute, (but not all on the EP). She spent 10 years singing with the Peterborough Children’s Chorus, from age eight to 18. One of her first stand-out musical memories was singing for the local Youth for Youth concert for the Youth Emergency Shelter when she was 15.
In high school she was part of a local all-girl indie-rock band called the Colour Bandits (“that name should be buried forever,” she laughs) and performed around town.
Last spring, she was invited to perform for the Women for Women YWCA fund-raising concert at Market Hall — and definitely left the audience with an amazing impression. She also performed in February as a pop-up artist for the Peterborough Folk Festival’s February Folk Follies.
Her musical favourites include Leslie Feist, Regina Spektor, Norah Jones and Joni Mitchell, and Rachel Price and her band, Lake Street Dive.
Edwards’ shout-outs go to Glenn Bailey (high school music teacher), Janina Kraus (piano teacher), Bridget Foley (voice teacher), Sally Wolfe (classical flute teacher), and, of course, her mother, Margaret, who introduced the piano to a five-year-old Mary-Kate.
Edwards attended St. Peter’s Secondary School in Peterborough, and attends Trent University studying a double major in English and Indigenous Studies.
She counts herself as an ally of Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQ community and Indigenous people. She’s interested in food politics and has been a feminist “from the get-go”.
Edwards also describes herself as an ambitious, open-minded, funny, and opinionated critical thinker who experiences the highs and lows of life to the fullest.
“I’m passionate about the importance of story-telling, and I would go crazy if I couldn’t create,” she said.
Down the road, there are plans to attend Humber College in Toronto for its jazz music program, and to also record a second EP, for which she currently is writing 10 new songs. In the meantime, you will find Edwards playing at numerous gigs around town — at The Garnet, The Spill, The Gordon Best, Catalina’s or Market Hall.
“I’m not all that religious, but I remember thinking that if there is a heaven, it would be a song that would go on and on forever. I just love the way music makes me feel.”
Home Page Photo Credit: Justin Patterson
By Melodie McCullough