Mary 5e
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Mary 5e

Kitchener, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Kitchener, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Band Rock Alternative

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Made of Gold

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This is the story of a bad-ass girl living in a small town drinking, drugging, and committing petty criminal acts. That is, until music fairly saved her life.
Mary 5e plays personal, dark-edged Hard rock and acoustic rock songs with memorable melodies and exquisite harmonies. Born in Barrie and raised in Owen Sound, Mary spent her summers in Tobermory (Ontario). Once Mary heard Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill in the summer of 1995 she knew she had to become a performer, so she borrowed a guitar and learned her first song — Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.”

The following summer she returned with her own guitar and a pocketful of original songs to play her first gig, at Shipwreck Lee’s on the corner. “If you’ve been to Tobermory,” she explains, “you know that there are just two corners. I played on the right-hand corner.”

Back at home a spate of good luck landed her performances at the Bay Shore Arena and, two months later, opening for Alannah Myles. Mary was only 17. “There were 800 people there,” she says. “I almost shit my pants.” Mary released a demo tape then, which garnered extensive airplay on Owen Sound’s K106.5.

When Mary moved to Kitchener, a regular café gig brought her into the stead of guitarist John Stuart, with whom she formed a band and began gigging. Before the release of her debut full-length Made of Gold in 2004, Mary recorded low-budget demos, which she used to finagle attention from established artists. “I don’t know how I do it, but I would schmooze with, like Finger 11, Tea Party, Bif Naked…. I can’t believe I gave them those crappy demos!”

Over the years Mary has become a more confident songwriter and took vocal lessons to learn proper technique and strengthen her already powerful voice. A self-taught guitarist, drummer, and bassist, Mary has never taken a music lesson. She doesn’t know any notes or chord names, and she prefers it that way: “I would lose some of the fun knowing what I’m playing rather than just feeling what I’m playing.”

Her strong melodic and harmonic sensibilities come from listening to her mom’s Beatles and Beach Boys records growing up. Her cousin Lisa introduced her to such artists as Heart, The Dayglo Abortions, Stacey Q, Wham!, and Poison. “Lisa wanted to be a singer,” remembers Mary. “I’m an only child, so I looked up to her and whatever she did I wanted to do. I told my family, ‘I’m going to be a singer one day and I’m going to move to a big, white mansion on a hill in Hollywood with a white Lamborghini.’”

Mary’s varied influences — from Billy Joel to Otep, Barbara Streisand to Alanis Morissette, classical music to Bif Naked — signal a well-rounded appreciation for good music, but well-rounded is not how Mary would describe herself as a teen.

Stealing trucks and tractors, breaking into homes, drinking and driving, jumping out of moving cars — Mary did it all. “I was 16 and pissed off at the world; I was in a small town drinking my face off,” she reveals earnestly. “I think I’d be dead by now. Music seriously did save me because I felt like I had purpose. I could write about stuff rather than act out.”

And it has served her well. Mary played to upwards of 4,000 people at Toronto Pride in 2002, and the CD release for Made of Gold at Fiddler’s Green was the biggest-selling show of the summer, including international acts.

Available at Sunrise Records, Encore Records, and The Beat Goes On in Kitchener-Waterloo, and online at www.indiepool.com, Made of Gold is something special. What’s remarkable about the album is not that it roams effortlessly between leaden electric hard rock and sweet acoustic folk rock. It’s not that Mary’s outstanding voice is equally capable of belting out snarly heavy metal lyric lines while, a scant few songs later, melting your heart with a plaintive whimper. It’s not even the artist’s surprisingly skilled grasp of melody and stellar harmonies. The remarkable thing about Made of Gold is that all of these things are true of it, and that the songs are good.

In the near future Mary will release an acoustic album, and surely local fans are anxious for it. Mary is well known in her music scene and people are taking notice in unexpected places: her web site receives many hits and CD orders from the U.S. and the UK, Sunrise Records released Made of Gold locally, and readers of The Kitchener-Waterloo Record voted Mary favourite female artist in both 2002 and 2004.

Music is Mary’s biggest passion, and she admits that it’s her only option: “I have to do music. I have no choice and I kind of made it that way.” With nothing to fall back on, she must fall forward.