Featured Artist - Mary Leay

Born in Fenstanton, Cambridge and based most of her life in a sleepy town in West Sussex, Mary knows all too well what it’s like to have a big dream in a small town.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 26 Mar 2012
  • min read
Born in Fenstanton, Cambridge and based most of her life in a sleepy town in West Sussex, Mary knows all too well what it’s like to have a big dream in a small town.

After training with a professional opera singer and thinking musical theatre would be her path, Mary joined her first rock band and suddenly the chorus line seemed a million miles away.

'Joining a band changed everything for me. I started listening to big voices like Skin from Skunk Anansie, and Alanis. While I also loved the edginess of bands like Radiohead, it was my Dad who introduced me to a lot of new country artists – Mary Chapin Carpenter, Alison Krauss, Beth Nielson Chapman and Shawn Colvin - who were all huge inspirations to me, although I don’t think I knew it at the time!'

After a chance introduction to songwriter, film composer and producer Michael J McEvoy, things began to take off and Mary and Michael spent three years writing and recording, laying the foundations for her debut album.

Mike recalls the first meeting with Mary; 'My wife heard Mary perform and was blown away. She came home very excited and convinced me to meet her. So Mary came over to my studio and I played guitar while she sang a few well-known songs - and her voice was just so pure, perfectly in tune, effortless and honest. She wasn't trying to sound like anyone or be anyone else. After talking for a while about the sound she envisaged, she played a song idea she had - very tentatively - as though she didn't quite believe in her writing ability. But it was a beautiful idea...and it turned out to be the first song we completed together, Rose of Gold. It really was the start of what has become a very fulfilling and important creative relationship for me'.

Mary's debut album, For The Last Time is out now. You an catch Mary at PRS for Music's Almost Famous showcase on 28 March along with TheTenFiveSixty, The Reads and Bianca Gerald - find out more here.

Watch M's exclusive interview with Mary Leay here.