It takes a lot of life experience to craft engaging, universal song lyrics—and singer, songwriter and musician Mary Jennings has had more than a lion’s share. How’s this for a start: career stops as a teacher, aerobics instructor, clothing retailer, bartender, luggage saleswoman and paranormal researcher. Add to that the early loss of her mom , and there are plenty stories to share.
With an enormous singing voice that transcends her small frame, an extraordinary rock sound full of robust piano hooks, and a one-of-a-kind storytelling ability drawn from a remarkable and emotional history, Mary has carved out her own unique niche in the industry by doing things her way.
Born into a family with strong musical roots, she began playing piano at five and has fond memories of her paternal grandparents teaching her vocal harmonies at a young age – a skill that is very evident in her work today. Mary’s adolescent and teenage years were marked by her development on piano and the cultivation of her vocal ability through many school plays and musicals, but it was the sudden death of her mother in 2001 that prompted a seismic surge in her musical expression.
“When people ask me why I’m a musician, I tell them that it’s largely because music is my therapy,” she says. “That entire notion really began with the death of my mom. My dad offered to help me record an album shortly after her death, and the experience of writing about what I was going through at the time went a long way towards helping me cope.” It was on that album that Mary established her creative foundation, writing music that immediately bonds her to the listener in a genuine way. That openness, and the raw emotion inherent in both her writing and voice, has been a cornerstone of her work ever since. “I share these emotions with others because I know so many have felt the same things. If I can create melodies and deliver words that express their feelings, I’ve done my job.”
While the music alone makes Mary Jennings an artist that fans can easily relate to, her somewhat quirky personality and a diverse range of interests have also gone a long way towards building a bond with her fan base. An avid horror movie fan, she has more than 400 fright flicks in her own private collection and openly admits that being scared and thrilled is probably her biggest geek factor. Her love for thrifting and secondhand clothing, something she learned from her mother, is a major influence on her vintage style and the inspiration behind the enormously popular clothing swap shows that she has hosted in a number of U.S. cities. More recently, Mary has turned her unique style, love of thrifting, and drive to create into a new project, No Sass Creations, through which she makes and sells bolo ties.
“I don’t want my fans thinking of me as just another musician asking them to come to shows or buy music,” she remarks. “It’s more important, and fun, to engage with them and shine a little light on my hobbies and personal life because at the end of the day, I’m really not much different from any of them.”
Mary’s strong work ethic and commitment to her craft has paid off handsomely in recent years. A Casio-sponsored artist, she was featured in an online advertising campaign for the company’s new line of keyboards in 2011 and her song “The Darkness” was placed in the Lionsgate motion picture "Devil Seed" (ironically, a horror film). In 2014, her song “Move” was featured during a final dance on Lifetime’s tv show “Dance Moms.”
Mary has organized a number of extensive tours as well, opening for artists such as Jeffrey Gaines, Mike Doughty, Teddy Geiger, Ryan Cabrera, and Rachel Yamagata, and she has appeared at several major festivals including CMJ and South by Southwest. She often treats fans to a unique stage set-up when performing on her own, prominently featuring a loop pedal that she uses to effortlessly layer rhythmic beats and beautiful background harmonies over her unmistakably unique piano playing and vocals.
Whether you experience Mary Jennings on stage or on one of the handful of albums she has released, you’re witnessing a very special artist who has confidently found her voice over the course of a long, and at time, heartbreaking journey. [+]