norma macdonald

norma macdonald

BandAmericanaSinger/Songwriter

Alt-country songstress whose songwriting is "nothing short of delicious" (Exclaim) and "simply oozes class" (Americana UK). Her warm vocals, heartfelt delivery and sharp wit are hallmarks of her live performance.

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Biography

"Morning You Wake" ranked #3 on Galaxie Folk Roots Top Spins of 2011!

"Morning You Wake" nominated for three Music Nova Scotia Awards (2011)--Female Solo Recording, Folk Recording and Country/Bluegrass Recording of the Year

ECMA Nominee 2009-- Female Solo Recording of the Year ('the forest for the trees")

The New Waterford, Nova Scotia native's third album “Morning You Wake”, produced by Halifax multi-instrumentalist Phil Sedore (Amelia Curran, Catherine MacLellan), is undoubtedly the songwriter’s most diverse collection of sounds and stories to date. From the starry-eyed waltz Bright as you Dare, to the Neko Case-ean Comeback Kid to the elegiac Springsteen flood-of-emotion of Swollen Sky, her sound mixes the sincerity and grit of car stereo old-country with the polish and sophistication of satellite radio North-Americana. The album has received glowing reviews in Canada and the UK and has been heralded a "country-folk gem" by Halifax music bloggers Herohill.

Onstage, MacDonald exudes ease and grace. She slides easily from theatrical poise to self-deprecating humour, sometimes in the same sentence. Her warm vocals, heartfelt delivery and sharp wit are hallmarks of her live performances, whether an intimate solo show or fleshed out with a 5-piece band.

MacDonald's second release “the forest for the trees” (2008) was nominated for Female Solo Recording of the Year by both the Nova Scotia Music Awards and the East Coast Music Awards. Exclaim Magazine described the album as “nothing short of delicious” while Penguin Eggs called it “beautifully understated”. Several singles have become staples on the CBC Radio 2 playlist. She has shared stages with folk legend Eliza Gilkyson, indie-folksters like Dan Mangan, Jim Bryson and Jeremy Fisher as well as the best of East Coast artists including Rose Cousins, Jenn Grant and David Myles.

Lyrics

Two Dollar Bill

Written By: Norma MacDonald

(chorus)
It's OK this time, I'm fine
I'll forget about the magic and the thrill
It's OK this time, I'm fine
I'll forget you like a Two Dollar Bill

Well sometimes we can't let go
Of what's familiar 'cause familiar's all we got
So thank you 'cause now I know
How to separate what's needed and what's not

(chorus)

Well you said that I was scared of change
But change is all that I am livin' on right now
And sometimes I think it's strange
What you think you'll miss you don't want anyhow

And it's funny now to think how much I cared
Thought I would be weighed down without you there
But I kept a little something for myself
A crumpled note 'tween pages on the shelf

(chorus)

Unseasonably Warm

Written By: Norma MacDonald

The river's flowing in January
The ice it melted weeks ago
People are smiling in the streets Without their hats
But I refuse to unbutton my coat

Oh, the chill inside my heart I fear
It might be here to stay
At least it won't be fooled by a handful of sunny winter days

It's been so long since you mentioned her
Years since anybody spoke her name
And now I'm walking in this mud up to my ankles
Praying for the ground to freeze again

Oh, and what I'd give for a blanket of the coldest pure white snow
Just this morning I saw a flock of geese that didn't know
which way to go

Standing in the calm
Just praying for a storm
But for now we'll nod and agree
It certainly was been
Unseasonably warm

Minus 14 tomorrow
I heard it on the CBC
And I'll just smile and turn off my radio 'cause something has been justified in me

Oh, and what I'd give for a blanket of the coldest pure white snow
Oh, and what I'd do to make it so you never had to go

The river's flowing in January
The ice it melted weeks ago
People are walking in the streets without their hats
But I refuse to unbutton my coat

Water on the Moon

Written By: Norma MacDonald

You're standing here
But you're miles away
Oh keep your distance
If you must
Where there was love
Once flowing wild and free
Now has dried up and crumbled to dust

(chorus)
And I told you I'd never fold
Boy you gave up much too soon
Now to find the traces of love in your face is
Like finding water on the moon

Oh in a heartbeat
You just turned away
Left only shadow
I looked around
One day you woke up
And you packed your things
And you said nothing can grow in this ground

(chorus)

How can you act like there was nothing ever there
When I remember bathing in your streams
Now the ghosts of those rivers haunt my dreams

I'm still young
And I'll try again
To find something
That will take root
For now the seams cut
In this rocky heart
Are all I can offer as proof

(chorus x2)

We're Ghosts

Written By: N. MacDonald

We're ghosts of the midnight lovers fumbling in the dark
Worn threads of the old strings that were tugging at our hearts
Those nights we held on til the sun was rising low
Oh we tried to hang on but we had to let it go...

We're whispers of the voices that once echoed in the halls
My note is on the table and the writings on the wall
Those drunken, wine-lipped dancers twirling cross the floor
Oh before we knew it they just waltzed right out the door...

Let me come back as a flesh and blood reminder of the past

We don't believe in what we've become but oh you've got to, when it's standing in front of you
We ought to grieve the passing of everything we've hoped for I guess we just wanted more.

Let me come back...

Oh we're ghosts of the footsteps
Creaking on the stairs
Where once you stood behind me I look now and no one's there
It's time to move on but we don't know what to do
Cause you're still haunting me and baby I'm still haunting you...

Let me come back as a flesh and blood reminder of the past

Pulling on a Thread

Written By: N. MacDonald

Oh daylight, oh daylight did you come for me
How'd you find me so far from where I said I'd be
And this hairshirt they left me it fits too a tee
Or maybe I'm just falling apart

Was it something that moved you from something you read
Why you go to pieces like pulling a thread
And sometimes they still wonder what goes through your head
Or maybe I'm just falling apart

(chorus)
Why, why are we pulling the line
When we hurt so much
And if I unravel before your eyes
Could you out me together again
Or would you leave me a pile of loose ends

My soul it is shaken my confidence broke
How I wish i could sing every word that I spoke
And I came all this way for the end of a rope
Or maybe I'm just falling apart

chorus

I thought I could do it, I thought I could take it
But I've got this feeling and I just can't shake it
But I'd jump that fence if you told me I'd make it
Or maybe I'm just falling apart

chorus

A Little Longer

Written By: N. MacDonald

If you would just wait a little longer
Everything would be alright
I know you need some patience
But I'm not doing this for spite

I won't sell you down the river
Cause you're worth your weight in gold
I won't give you to another
Or take back what you stole

If you would just wait a little longer
Everything would be alright
In the coolness of September
Everyone can sleep at night

I won't sell you down the river
Cause you're worth your weight in gold
I won't give you to another
Or take back what you stole

We've fallen far, but we brought this on ourselves
But to answer your question
I don't want no one else

If you would just wait a little longer
Everything would be alright
I know you need some patience
And I won't put up a fight

I won't sell you down the river
Cause you're worth your weight in gold
I won't give you to another
Or take back what you stole

Almost There

Written By: N. MacDonald

This trying to be the strong one
Will get you in the long run
A night so cold you'll catch your death
These lights so bright catch your breath

And stolen words in borrowed tongues
Are bound to fool someone
A mouth so smart it kept you out
A heart too soon to cast doubt

And you know how it was before
So careful what you wish for
If you're trying to prove you never cared, you're almost there, you're almost there

Oh streets of silver, streets of gold
Were what your furture fortold
A wind so strong it blew you back
A knife so sharp in your back

And you know how it was before
So careful what you wish for
If you're trying to prove you never cared
You're almost there, you're almost there, you're almost there, you're almost there

Everyone Lets YOu Down

Written By: Norma MacDonald

(Chorus)
Everyone lets you down, lets you down, lets you down
Everyone lets you down, they don't come around
But don't you let it get you down, get you down, get you down
Don't you let it get you down, it'll come around

I've been wherd you are
So deep in the darkness that you can't see the stars
Counting your scars
But don't ever mind what they say, hey, it's your heart

(Chorus)

And people walk around in their shoes
They're shaking their fists, ah, but they can't shake their blues
You're beat down and used
But don't ever mind what they say, hey, you still choose

(Chorus X2)

Blackhearts of the Company

Written By: N. MacDonald

This song is about a mining strike that took place in my hometown of New Waterford, NS, Canada in 1925. A coal miner named William Davis was shot and killed during a protest after the mining company drastically cut their workers wages (and later cut off their heat and food supply). Communities in Cape Breton still celebrate "Davis Day" each year on June 11....

We pay the bills we can't ignore
And the rest we owe to the Company Store
With 9 kids and one on the way
You do what you gotta do for pay

For 20 years you break your back
Miles under the ocean black
Up before the sun could rise
That light it never touched your eyes

(Chorus)
But the Company never did care
'Bout the black lungs of the boys down there
So we'll raise our fist so the world will see
The blackhearts of the Company

Then they cut your wages by a third
I still remember when we heard
A cry went up all through the town
Said "we'll bring those greedy bastards down"

And all the men they just walked out
From the earth below and stood devout
Then the Company showed their souls of black
Said then we'll have to freeze or starve you back

(Bridge)
And the whole town sang a union chant
As we marched down to the Power Plant
Police there said you won;t get through
"You'll be beggin' when we're through with you"
Words came to push, push came to shove
And the shots they rang out from above
You looked the devil in the eye
He shot your heart and hoped you'd die

Now your son Will was born today
And we'll take flowers to your grave
And pray your fight wasn't in vain
Please let there be something to gain

(Chorus)
Now I hope somebody out there cares
'Bout the black lungs of the boys down there
Haven't we known for all eternity
That greed's bred in authority
And I hope that things won't be the same
'Cause of the day that bears your name
When we raised our fist so the world could see
The blackhearts of the Company

Ages

Written By: Norma MacDonald

Don't take it hard
You should go easy on yourself
Things fall apart
If not for you then someone else,
Not you then someone else
Not you then someone else

You work too hard
Your time is spent before it's here
Bet you could count
The good times that you've had in years
Good times you've had in years
Good times you've had in years

Chorus:
Oh the road that lies before us
Run away and join the chorus
It's your world but your a tourist
Thumbing through picture-less pages
Contemplating life in stages
Let it go know it's been ages

Morning you wake
To sounds of singing in the trees
I hope you take
This time to put your mind at ease
Oh put your mind at ease
Oh put your mind at ease

Chorus:
Oh the road that lies before us
Run away and join the chorus
It's your world but your a tourist
We're the ones who wrote these pages
Not just birds in different cages
Fly away now, it's been ages
Ages
Ages

Discography

"Morning You Wake"-- release date June 7, 2011.

#3 most played album of 2011 on Galaxie's Folk Roots channel.

Airplay on CBC Radio One and Two, charted on Earshot stations from June-July, 2011

Charted on the U.S. Roots Music Report August-December 2011 (peaking at #21).

Airplay in the Netherlands (Goodnoise, Songriver), Belgium (Rootstime) and on the BBC.

Tracks "Cordelia" and "Lesson Learned" charted on nationally syndicated East Coast Countdown in 2011

"the forest for the trees"--released October 2008

2009 ECMA nominee Female Solo Recording of the Year; Nova Scotia Music Week nominee Female Solo Recording of the Year.

Track "long shot" from 'the forest for the trees' is included on the iTunes compilation "CBC Radio 2 Discoveries".

Track "we're ghosts" from 'the forest of the trees' was featured on CBC's crime drama "The Border".

"nothing is where it was"-- released September 2005-(Nova Scotia Music Week Nominee 2006--Female Solo Recording of the Year)

Receiving national airplay on CBC (including moderate rotation on Radio 2 Drive), Canadian college radio, streaming online on various European folk sites, local stations across Nova Scotia.

"everyone lets you down", the first single from the forest for the trees, reached the #2 position on the nationally syndicated East Coast Countdown.

three songs from "nothing is where it was" (two dollar bill, time, annaline) charted on the East Coast Countdown program.