Mary Jane Lamond
Mary Jane Lamond, August 2009
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
|Songwriter, performer, recording artist|
|Labels||New Scotland Records, Pheromone Recordings|
|Ashley MacIsaac, Wendy MacIsaac|
Mary Jane Lamond (born 1960) is a Canadian Celtic folk musician who performs traditional Canadian Gaelic folk songs from Cape Breton Island. Her music combines traditional and contemporary material. Lamond is known as the vocalist on Ashley MacIsaac's 1995 hit single "Sleepy Maggie", and for her solo Top 40 hit "Horo Ghoid thu Nighean", the first single from her 1997 album Suas e!. Her 2012 collaboration with fiddler Wendy MacIsaac, Seinn, was named one of the top 10 folk and americana albums of 2012 by National Public Radio in the United States.
Born in Kingston, Ontario, the youngest of five children, Lamond moved a number of times during her childhood, to a series of cities and towns in Ontario and Quebec. Her parents were both originally from Nova Scotia, however, and she often visited her father's parents in Cape Breton during her summer vacations. There she was first exposed to Celtic culture in general and to Gaelic music and the Gaelic language in particular. Lamond graduated from Westmount High School in Montreal, and then returned to Nova Scotia to enroll in the Celtic Studies program at St. Francis Xavier University, where she studied the school's collection of 350 field recordings of traditional Scots-Gaelic songs. She graduated with a minor in Music at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
While still a student, Lamond recorded an album of traditional material called Bho Thir Nan Craobh (From the Land of the Trees), which she released independently in 1994. Among the musicians on the album was fiddler Ashley MacIsaac. MacIsaac had first seen Lamond perform in 1991 with a local band in Antigonish and was impressed with what he saw as her "punk attitude," even as she was singing Gaelic songs. MacIsaac and Lamond collaborated again in 1995 on the song "Sleepy Maggie" for his album Hi(TM) How Are You Today?, which became a breakthrough recording for both of them.
Lamond followed this up with a solo album in 1997 called Suas e! (which in English means, roughly, "Go for it!"). The album was nominated for a Juno Award and an East Coast Music award. She released Làn Dùil in 1999, which cultural magazine PopMatters said "should establish her as a major talent in Celtic and world music.Orain Ghàidhlig, most of which was recorded live in North River, Cape Breton Island, followed in 2001.
After 2000, Lamond mostly put her solo recording career aside for a variety of other projects, including composition for film and stage, and working with a variety of cultural agencies. Her most recent solo album to date is the 2005 recording Stòras, which means "a treasure" in English. Also in 2005, she contributed the song "Mo Mhaeli Bheag Og" to the charity album Voyces United for UNHCR.
She has been active in the ongoing preservation and revitalization of the Scottish Gaelic culture in Cape Breton as a member of the Gaelic Council of Nova Scotia and the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council, and as a teacher of Gaelic language and song workshops.
In September 2012, Lamond and fiddler Wendy McIsaac released the album Seinn. "Their guitar-and-fiddle matchup is beautifully balanced, behind butter-smooth vocals and timeless melodies," said a reviewer on NPR, which named the album as one of the year's top 10 folk and Americana albums. In November 2013, Seinn won a Canadian Folk Music Award for traditional album of the year and a Music Nova Scotia award for traditional/roots recording of the year.
In September 2017, Lamond announced a new collaborative project, Patchwork, "a project dedicated to the presentation of traditional song in a contemporary context." Patchwork consists of Lamond and her first cousin, Laurel MacDonald, who perform Gaelic and English language songs. They perform a show entitled "She Sings as She Flies: Revisiting the Helen Creighton Song Collection," and will be joined by Nicole LeBlanc, Kirsten Olivia, and Naomi Dawn Poulette singing songs from the Acadian, African Nova Scotian, and Mi'kmaq communities, respectively.