Mary Bragg
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Mary Bragg

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2004 | SELF

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2004
Solo Americana Country




"The Nashville Scene: Critics' Pick, April 2015"

Georgia native Mary Bragg first tried her luck in Nashville 15 years ago, and the singer-songwriter eventually moved to Brooklyn, where she performed in that city’s alt-country scene. After releasing her 2011 full-length Tattoos and Bruises, Bragg returned to Nashville about a year ago. She sounds a bit like fellow Americana artists Patty Griffin and Mindy Smith, and applies her decorous voice to the material she wrote for her new EP, Edge of This Town. Bragg’s measured approach suits the mood of the EP’s “Layin’ Low,” a narrative that intertwines the concrete and the abstract: “Headlights off ’til you make it out / From under the weight of where you’ve been,” she sings. Edge of This Town also features a song about the difference between Hollywood and reality, and finds Bragg exploring the tension between authenticity and success — a rich subject for an Americana artist. EDD HURT - The Nashville Scene

"USA Today: “I’m trying to forget, Bragg sings with graceful sorrow. But some marks last even longer than those in the title.”"

May 2011
“I’m trying to forget, Bragg sings with graceful sorrow.
But some marks last even longer than those in the title.”
--Featured on "The Playlist"
Brian Mansfield - USA Today

"No Depression: "A magnificent collection of Americana""

“On June 7, Mary Bragg released her third album, Tattoos & Bruises. Its heartbreaking narratives, and Bragg's naturally sweet & pleasingly plaintive vocals shine against a mixture of country, folk, and rock creating a magnificent collection of Americana.
After hearing Tattoos & Bruises last week, I was given the chance to ask Mary questions about herself and the album and this is what she said...”
When and how did you first become interested in
music? How long have you been playing music?
I've been singing my whole life, but have been playing music seriously since I was about 16. That was when Santa Claus (seriously) brought me a guitar for Christmas, and I slowly started to pick up songwriting. Music was everywhere in my house growing up - I'm the youngest of four, and we were all musical, as were my parents. My
daddy is an amazingly talented trumpet player - some of my earliest memories of his playing are of him waking us up on Saturday mornings playing "Reveille" to announce that it was time to get up (and breakfast was on the table)!
Who are your musical influences?
Sam Cooke, Loretta Lynn, Patty Griffin, Townes Van Zandt.
What was the inspiration for Tattoos & Bruises?
On the subway one day I saw a girl with a tattoo on her ankle, and she had a bruise on her calf. For a second I wondered how she got the bruise... then the words came together in my mind, and I thought.. wow that has a nice ring to it, "Tattoos and Bruises". Within the hour, the melody was written. It wasn't until over a year later that the song was completed - there were so many images of this couple we wanted to have in the song - how a relationship leaves a heavy mark on you, oftentimes a much more permanent one than a tattoo, even when you try your hardest to erase it.
There were a few co-writers on the album, can you describe what it was like to work with them and their songwriting processes?
Every songwriter is different. I like to write in many different ways - with or without my guitar, on the piano, completely away from an instrument, with or without a predetermined storyline, based on a particular word or phrase. When I'm writing with my husband Jimmy (Sullivan), he likes to bop around the house while I'm working on
something, and he'll hear my phrasing or lyric, and say,
"what about changing this to this, and swapping this with
this?" and I'll say, "Oooohh! Yes!"

With Adam (Levy), we like to start with a clean slate, over coffee and conversation and see how the stories in our lives take us into the song. Those sessions are long and wonderful - often times a song will span a couple of sessions, and every time, it's just so great. He's a very patient songwriter, and a forgiving one, too. We're into the whole "write everything down that's on your mind" thing - whether it's good or bad.

Colin (McGrath) loves a good hook, so we like to think about
hook options before getting too deep into the song. He's
so much fun, and has a whole wealth of ideas all the time. Those are also long and wonderful sessions - sometimes Jimmy joins us, too - as we're usually at our place in Brooklyn. It's really easy to be honest with Colin - and that's probably the single most important thing about writing, is honesty. It's easy to hide things, but I think the music is better when it's honest.

Writing with Lee (Alexander) was an unexpected blessing. When he signed on to produce the record, his involvement in the writing process just came organically. He's mostly a lyricist, and loves to pace around the studio either singing different words to himself, or texting me lyrics while I'm in another room (or fetching coffee!). we did most of our cowriting over email and texting. it's a crazy world!
How have you grown since your last album, Sugar?
I think this record is much more cohesive, and paints a clearer picture of the kind of artist that I am. I've realized that instead of trying to be something that I'm not, I just have to be myself (which is a country girl who sings country-ish, even though I like to think of it as Americana. :))
What are your plans for the future?
More songs! More albums! More touring!
April Wolfe
June 2011 - No Depression

"CBS New York: Singer-Songwriter Mary Bragg Performs at Rockwood Music Hall"

December 5, 2011: Mary Bragg has been winning over audiences in the New York singer-songwriter community for years.

With three albums under her belt, the Georgia native said the first time she visited New York as a teen it was love at first sight.

“When I was in New York, I felt this incredible sense of energy and thought and challenging circumstances,” she said. “I knew in order for me to have fodder for songwriting I needed to not live so wonderfully. I actually moved to New York both wanting to experience the world more and to find hardship.”

Bragg admits she has experienced struggle while living in New York but embraced it in her songwriting.

“I feel like I’ve written a lot of really great songs that have been indicative of my life here. I love it. Every day if your slate is totally blank you can go out and find a bazillion things to write about just by walking out your front door.”

Her latest release, Tattoos and Bruises is a “total New York record.” Produced by Lee Alexander, the album was recorded and mixed at The Coop, the studio Alexander owns with Norah Jones. Darker than her previous albums, Bragg says she finds inspiration for her songs everywhere.

“Often times, the idea will come from someone else’s life,” she said. “There certainly are a number of things and a number of feelings and lyrics that are totally applicable and come directly from the lives that we lead as songwriters but there is a lot of other stuff going on.”

Title track, “Tattoos and Bruises” was inspired while on the subway when Bragg noticed a girl with a tattoo on her ankle and a bruise on her calf next to the tattoo.

“I thought it was a very interesting combination of color with the black tattoo and the grayish, purple-y blue bruise. The words sung out in my mind so I started writing about what I thought her life was like.”

Bragg began writing songs in college thanks to the urging of her friend Dave Haywood. Now one third of popular country trio Lady Antebellum, Haywood engineered and produced Bragg’s debut album.

“I think in theory I knew that I could be a songwriter, it’s just that I had never actually sat down and done it,” Bragg recalled. “He was the person that said, ‘Alright, next Monday you’re going to come over and you’re going to have some stuff to sing for me.’”

Shortly after her first album, Certain Simple Things, was released Bragg moved to New York. A country girl, she says she enjoys being in a place where the arenas of music are so vast.

“You hear things that you wouldn’t necessarily hear in another music city because people are so unabashedly fearless and they play whatever they want to play. I’m very often affected by the shows I see. I think New York has afforded me this fearless passion of truth.”

At the beginning stages of a new album, Bragg said she’s conscious of what she’s trying to say in her songs and wants to write songs of hope for her listeners.

“That’s the thing about music that I love so much; you’re really able to affect people and give them the opportunity to just feel and be moved by something.”

For more on Mary Bragg, visit her Web site. Catch her live Monday at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1 and in 2012 at her monthly residency at The Living Room. - CBS New York

"Billboard: “Mary Bragg Credits Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood for Songwriting Chops.”"

December 7, 2011:
Long before he was part of popular country trio Lady Antebellum, Dave Haywood acted as engineer and producer for his friend, Mary Bragg. The two met in high school and started singing together their first week of college.

With adjacent dorm rooms at the University of Georgia, Haywood and Bragg formed a band and even opened for a still-unknown Miranda Lambert. After Bragg graduated, Haywood and the now-Brooklyn-based Americana songstress began working on her debut record, "Certain Simple Things," in the fall of 2003.

"He was really the first person to push me to write songs. We were in a band together for three years and he's like, 'We're gonna make a record,'" she recalls. "He said, 'I'm going to send you these MP3s of me playing these random chords and I want you to write some lyrics and melodies.'"

Though she didn't quite know how to do that yet, she gave it a try.

"We started making this record and we made it in his... they called it 'The Treehouse'. It was his dude college apartment," she tells "Actually, he and Charles [Kelley of Lady Antebellum] started writing together at that time too. Charles and David went to high school together and were very good friends in college also."

Recorded, engineered and produced by Haywood in Athens, Ga., the album was released in early 2004 and Bragg moved to New York shortly after.

"This record, for me, we did not know what we were doing," she said. "It's kind of beautiful in some ways because of that. It was our first effort to make something good, and he had never done anything like this before. He would burn me a CD and I would put the CD in my CD player and write. I barely played guitar when David and I started writing. I didn't know how to shape the chords of a song or even how to shape melody very much. I really needed Dave to help me figure out where a melody should go."

Before the days of GarageBand, Bragg and Haywood made the record in his apartment using Cakewalk software. Yet three albums later, Bragg says she still plays material from her debut release.

"There are actually two songs on there ['Certain Simple Things'] that I still love and sometimes show up on our sets," she said. "There really is a formula for making people love a song. Obviously you don't want to keep to that formula all the time because it's redundant and boring -- not fresh."

Today, Bragg's songwriting process varies, and she always keeps a notebook on hand for when inspiration may strike. Her folksy third album, "Tattoos and Bruises," saw a release earlier this year. - Billboard

"Performing Songwriter: "Delectable folk-pop delivered in a crystalline voice""

January 2009
Sugar, the second effort from Georgian-turned-New Yorker Mary Bragg, features a half-hour set of delectable folk-pop delivered in a crystalline voice reminiscent of Mindy Smith and Shawn Colvin. The 10 tracks, penned by Bragg and husband/bassist Jimmy Sullivan, are all rooted in acoustic instrumentation. The Appalachian-tinged “Child” is shrouded in vast, haunting cello, while the crisp, harmony-laden “I Will Love You” takes on a distinctly Americana/bluegrass flavor. The cabaret-inspired “Paper Chase” is an unexpected mid-album gem that breaks the trance of Bragg’s mellower material. Standout track “Give That Girl to Me,” like most of Bragg’s compositions, is straightforward lyrically and elegantly produced. Indulge your sweet tooth with some Sugar. - Performing Songwriter Magazine

"Direct Current Music: “Deft, polished balance of sweet, nuanced folk and richly embroidered alt-country.”"

April 2011
"Georgia-raised, New York-based singer/songwriter, a frequent draw on the Lower East Side and Brooklyn club scene, teams with noted producer Lee Alexander (Norah Jones, Amos Lee) for her third album of Americana-etched tracks...Bragg and Alexander also co-wrote four songs // Release: Tattoos and Bruises (June 7) // Sounds like: a deft, polished balance of sweet, nuanced folk and richly embroidered alt-country...Bragg's honeyed voice evokes an effortlessly natural, plaintive tone // What we like: lead track "How and Why" simmers on low flame as Bragg lyrically probes a relationship's unanswered questions over some chiming guitars." - Direct Current Music

"Blurt Magazine: "Homespun artist's sophomore set is assured yet vulnerable""

June 2009
Being a homespun artist from the hinterland – in this case, rural Georgia – and relocating to the big city – Brooklyn, New York – Mary Bragg could have been forgiven for feeling somewhat daunted by the wealth of competition, particularly as pitted against today’s rather large contingent of equally ambitious singer/songwriter types. Fortunately, her sophomore set belies any suggestion she may not be up to the task. Assured yet vulnerable, Bragg betrays a variety of emotions that give due diligence to any preset standard. She’s clearly adept in full folk mode – the pretty opening track “Let Me ” and the subdued yet surprisingly snappy “I Will Love You” being the best examples – but its her effortless shift from regret and remorse to songs of celebration that reflect her abilities best. Whether relaying the yearning melancholia of “Learn to Love Again” and “Give That Girl,” the swagger and sway of “Sweet Skin” or the all-out effusive joy of the descriptively titled “So Happy,” Bragg’s powers of expression continually come to the fore. Ultimately, Sugar may not be as sweetly caressing as its title implies, but it does give Bragg plenty that she can boast about.

Standout tracks: “Let Me,” “I Will Love You”

LEE ZIMMERMAN - Blurt Magazine

"You Sing I Write: Mary Bragg, Adam Levy Impress at the Living Room"

March 3, 2012 : I first met Mary Bragg in December at Galuminum Foil Studios while she was recording on the A Holiday Benefit, vol 5 album. As she sang her part on “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” the whole studio went silent in awe of her beautiful vocals.

The Georgia native moved to New York eight years ago to pursue music and in an interview with her I learned about her songwriting start with famous friend Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum and her recording process. This year, Bragg has a monthly residency at the Living Room where for two hours she showcases her own material and invites a collaborator to share the stage.

Last Tuesday her guest was Adam Levy. Known for his collaborations with Norah Jones, Amber Rubarth and Amos Lee among others, Levy admitted that his first show as a singer was at the Living Room.

Shortly after 7 p.m., Bragg took the stage. Having just spent the weekend in Georgia, she began the evening with a song about where she is from. Alone onstage with acoustic guitar her beautiful vocals stood out. “Orange” followed suit as her whispered singing style captivated.

Soon after, her guitarist and bassist joined the stage for the soulful and bluesy “Leave Tonight” before Levy joined her for the darker “Circle the Night.” With a distinct twang and bluesy guitar interludes from Levy, the track stood out. Bragg left the stage while Levy remained performing five songs of his own. The comical “You’re Not My Baby” had the room laughing along with deep vocals and lighthearted lyrics.

“I love singing here at the Living Room because it’s the first place I ever sang,” Levy admitted. “I used to stand in the shadows and play guitar.” Levy then performed a “love song to my home state” of California before Bragg rejoined him onstage and sang the song they first wrote together. With reverberating vocals and a wavering electric guitar interlude by Levy, the track was memorable. Slower ballad “Wildflower” followed while the poignant “Tattoos and Bruises” struck a chord.

Afterward, Bragg confessed she never intended to be a country singer. “For a long time I didn’t think I was going to be a country singer and that was a mistake,” she admitted. “I didn’t start writing until I was 22. My second record got more folky and poppy. Having that fore into folk and pop music allowed me to be honest with who I am and where I’m from and I stopped being afraid to write country songs.”

Next track, “When Your Heart Belongs To Another,” was “a shore-fire example of me embracing my country roots,” Bragg said as the twangy number impressed and hushed the crowd.

The remainder of her two hour set had the entire room entranced with her soaring vocals and quirky anecdotes. For more on Mary Bragg, visit her Website and catch her live at the Living Room March 20. - You Sing I Write

"Common Folk Music: "Lovely.""

April 2011
"Georgia-born, Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Mary Bragg will release her new album, Tattoos & Bruises on June 7. Bragg wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on the album, co-writing four of the songs with Lee Alexander while Adam Levy (Norah Jones and Amos Lee), Colin McGrath, and Jimmy Sullivan, her bassist and husband, made co-writing contributions. Produced by Alexander (Amos Lee, Norah Jones), the album showcases Bragg's country/pop sensibility and attractive vocals.

"How and Why" is a lovely and vunerable ballad and the first single from Tattoos & Bruises.

Bragg will be touring the east coast this summer, including a show in June at her home venue, The Living Room." - Common Folk Music

"Babysue: "This young lady sure knows how to deliver a tune...""

April 2009
The package containing Mary Bragg's CD initially caught our attention because she hails from the unlikely city of Swainsboro, Georgia (where one of our staff members grew up). The second thing that caught our attention about that Mary has a really incredible presence and voice. This is Bragg's second full-length release (Certain Simple Things, her debut, was released in 2004). The press release cites Mary's influences...Patty Griffin, Dusty Springfield, Joni Mitchell, The Dixie Chicks, Rufus Wainwright, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Shawn Colvin... We can hear slight threads and traces of all of these artists in her music to some degree. For a relative newcomer to the world of music, this young lady sure knows how to deliver a tune. Her music is classic and classy...and there's no doubt in our minds that Sugar will be warmly received by just about anyone who hears it. Hummable substantial cuts include "Let Me," "I Will Love You," "Give That Girl," and "Trying." Really nice stuff with just enough polish. (Rating: 5+)

"Kings Country Bop: "Mary's voice has a real lift and air to it, a pristine quality that is at the forefront of a subdued, lean production""

January 2009
I was catching up with a lovely couple, Jimmy Sullivan (no not the dude from awful Avenged Sevenfold) and Mary Bragg, Jimmy a very congenial fellow, and Mary a bright, smiling star, the other night at the Yelp Inaugural Ball. It's rare that you find two hospitable Southerners in Williamsburg, but they've been making music together for years now and I was fortunate enough to chat with them about it and some recent gigs like their January 7th gig at The Bitter End and upcoming headliner at Living Room on February 12th.

More recently their collaborations turned into Mary's 2007 album, Sugar. You can find several tracks on Mary's MySpace page currently. Full of older, well worn Americana/country songs, Mary's voice has a real lift and air to it, a pristine quality that is at the forefront of a subdued, lean production. A wonderful cut, "Let Me", really has a nice build from a gentle spareness to a softly rumbling finish. There are changes of pace, like the whaling guitar and Jimmy's funkified, bopping basslines in a song like "Sweet Skin".

The state of pop country has always been thriving no doubt; it's efforts from people like Jimmy and Mary that help round out things with a less less over the top, excessiveness and a real focus on arranging effective songs. - Kings County Bop Blog

"Dagger Zine: "Alluring""

September 2009
Lovely alt country chanteuse who hails from rural Georgia but now calls BKNY home. On her sophomore effort she whips up 10 tasty songs with elements of folk, country and a bit o’ soul. “Sweet Skin” has a slow swagger to it that makes it alluring as do a handful of other tracks. Nice. - Dagger Zine

"Jerseybeat: "Arresting sense of graceful harmony and wistful reflectivity...""

May 2009
Soft and gentle, lovely and lulling, as delicate and endearing as a fawn, this simply beautiful album of warm and melodic folk-pop quietly wins the listener over with its arresting sense of graceful harmony and wistful reflectivity. Mary Bragg’s gorgeous, soaring voice and smart, thoughtful songwriting make for a strong and effective double act. The arrangements are spare and subdued, yet still rich and tuneful. Better still, there’s a refreshing feeling of maturity and introspection which adds to the considerable power and poignancy of the music. For the most part Mary keeps things mellow and reserved, although she does perk up and kick out the swinging jams on the marvelously bluesy “The Paper Chase.” A sweet and delectable jewel. -

"CountryNY: "Inspires honey-coated tears of love...""

Born of a musical family deep in the soul of south Georgia, Mary Bragg doesn't just sing a sweet Americana tune, but inspires honey-coated tears of love, loss and real human emotion through each and every note and lyric. -

"BeaconPass: "Known for putting on a powerful show.""

Featured event, February 2011

"Mary Bragg has a beautiful instrument: her sweet, clear and warm voice. At first it sounds positively cherubic, but Bragg’s voice also betrays her Georgia roots, with an emotional breadth that can evoke the rawest blues singers. A New York resident since 2004, Bragg has seen the release of two albums, Certain Simple Things (2004) and Sugar (2007). A third, produced by Lee Alexander (Norah Jones, Amos Lee), is set for release sooner than later. Supported by a rotating roster of peerless NYC players — including Adam Levy, who deserves to have an LES street named after him — Bragg is known for putting on a powerful show. She tends to pack the Living Room, so get there early." -

"The Lo-Down: "She’s got the voice, and she’s got the writing chops.""

Weekend Music Pick, February 2011

"Mary Bragg has been likened to folks such as Patty Griffith and Mindy Smith, and the comparisons are certainly apt. She’s got the voice, and she’s got the writing chops. She’s also fallen in with great company – like Lee Alexander, who’s recorded Norah Jones and Amos Lee, and also Tom Schick, who’s worked with Rufus Wainwright and Ryan Adams. As a result, she’s put out some high caliber albums, showcasing her talents enough to garner several songwriting accolades and prime festival slots." - The Lo-Down New York


Lucky Strike, 2017
Edge of This Town, 2015
Tattoos & Bruises, 2011
Sugar, 2007
Certain Simple Things, 2004



  • Americana Music Festival Showcase, 2015
  • Telluride Troubadour Finalist, 2015
  • Kerrville New Folk Finalist, 2015
  • Winner of the BandPage/ZooLabs Music Residency Contest, 2014
  • Critics' Pick in the Nashville Scene, April 2015
  • Daytrotter session, recorded January 2014
  • Year-long residency at NYC's The Living Room in 2012 for guest series "Mary Bragg With..."
  • Telluride Troubadour Competition Honorable Mention (2012)
  • International Songwriting Competition Honorable Mention (2011)
  • Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Emerging Artists Showcase (2009)

“Honey, you ain’t got nothing to say. Go out there and live a little—come back to me in 10 years.”

Those stinging words from a Nashville music executive to wet-behind-the-ears singer-songwriter Mary Bragg years ago couldn’t have stung more. But she took that blow-off advice into a journey that transformed the south Georgia native from pop-country wannabe into the striking, vulnerable voice she wears on her new album, Edge of This Town, drawing comparisons to Patty Griffin and Shawn Colvin.

But her story, and her songs are her own.

 “I didn’t know it at the time, but a little rejection was just what I needed,” Bragg said.

Barely out of high school, Bragg spent six months in Nashville as a sprite, eager singer, chasing the dream. Like so many do.

Sent on her way to the University of Georgia where she was classically trained in voice, she put Nashville behind her and focused on developing her craft on her own termsAfter college, New York became her muse, her trouble, her chaperone. Several years into growing acclaim in Brooklyn’s Americana scene, she attracted overflow crowds for a yearlong residency at New York City’s famed venue The Living Room. She has been honored in such prestigious songwriting contests as Telluride Troubadour, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Wildflower! Festival, International Songwriting Competition and NSAI’s Best of Spring Training.

Now having recently been
accepted into the world-renowned circle of songwriters at The Bluebird
Cafe after a 60-second audition, Bragg finally has been embraced in Nashville. The 2011 release of her Lee Alexander-produced album Tattoos & Bruises, met with critical acclaim by USA Today, No Depression magazine and others, didn’t hurt.

With themes of longing, trying relationships, and wistfulness, Edge of This Town was released April 7, 2015. The Nashville Scene says, "Bragg applies her decorous voice to the material she wrote for Edge of
This Town, which finds her exploring the tension between authenticity
and success - a rich subject for an Americana artist."

Bragg takes her listeners to nostalgic, emotional places through her pointed lyrics and powerful melodies. 
On the opening track, Bragg describes woman unwilling to give up on her crumbling marriage. “Hollywood’ll say go on and walk away, that it ain’t worth all these tears, but Hollywood ain’t here,” Bragg sings, a lilting slide guitar bending its way across the evocative timbre of Bragg’s voice. She produced the EP together with guitarist Rich Hinman and her bassist/husband Jimmy Sullivan.

Bragg recorded the album after winning the inaugural BandPage/Zoo Labs Music Residency Contest, which enabled her to create the album at Zoo Labs Studios in Oakland, California in November 2014. This is Bragg's fourth studio recording and her first since moving to Nashville in December 2013. The Zoo Labs Music Residency is an immersive program that supports entrepreneurial music-making teams in bringing their creative power to their business plans.

Her sophomore release,
Sugar (2007), was produced by Darius Jones and recorded in
Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Her debut album, Certain Simple Things (2004),
was co-written, engineered and produced in Athens, Georgia, by Dave
Haywood (Lady Antebellum).

Band Members