We’re celebrating International Women’s Day on Episode 655 of Folk Roots Radio with a very special hour of music by female artists. Join us as we check out new releases from Mimi O’Bonsawin, The Lasses & Kathryn Claire, Moira Smiley with Seamus Egan, Sherry Ryan, Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy, Aspen Jacobsen, Mallory Chipman, Jill Barber, Hansan, Mary Beth Carty, Andrina Turenne, Rachel Baiman, Folkapotamus, The Pairs and Jessica Rhaye. It’s a sweet episode. Remember, If you like the artists you hear on this show and want to support them, don’t just stream their music – BUY their music, and then you’ll really make a difference to their income at a time when it is becoming much more difficult to make a living as a musician. Check out the full playlist below.
We started off the episode with indigenous singer-songwriter Mimi O’Bonsawin, from Odanak FN in Northern Ontario. “The River” is a lovely ethereal song from Mimi’s new album “Willow”. It’s a song that she dedicates to not only the river close to where she lives, but all rivers and natural bodies of water – and the life that they sustain.
“I grew up outside of my community in Odanak FN. As I am reclaiming and learning more about what it means to be Abenaki, I started visiting Odanak when I was in Grade Ten. I was drawn to the river that runs alongside our village. There is something very powerful and validating about standing on the edge of this grand river, in a spot where my ancestors grew their food, raised their families, and sang.
“Just like the bark of the willow tree, the making of this album has brought me so much healing. I have never felt more alive. This album sounds like the music I have always heard in my heart. It is honest, it is real and it is full of life. I feel like all of my previous albums have led me to where I am now, learning and growing at every chapter.”
“Last winter, early 2022 brought a stubborn melancholy to our house. Two musicians with identities linked to the feedback loops of performance and collaboration tried to stay connected to each other across a second winter of isolation. In the drear of March, we learned how we’d pulled together against a world of fears, but had forgotten our own wants and needs in the process. These lyrics tumbled out in April after I’d spent a few weeks adventuring on my own, and Seamus sent me the voice memo of a tender chord progression. Meanwhile, a pair of mourning doves took up residence by our house. Their presence was a wild, potent reminder of the cycles and mysteries of partnership. Their long, mournful calls reminded us of the faith and hope we hold in one another.” (Moira Smiley)
Staying with Birds, “Sparrow” is a new song from Newfoundland singer-songwriter Sherry Ryan. It tells the story of how the song of the white-throated sparrow went viral across North America as sparrows started imitating each other – allowing it to spread from British Columbia across Canada and into the US wintering grounds. You can find it on Sherry Ryan’s latest album “Shout For More”.
“Woman Of The House” is another track from “Canvas”, the creative new project from music and life partners Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy. Their third album together, “Canvas” pushes the boundaries of Celtic folk as it weaves in rock, pop and classical influences as well as world rhythms with the help of special guests including Yo Yo Ma and Brian Finnegan, and, on this song, Rhiannon Giddens.
“Creativity comes when there is space for it. One thing Donnell and I were given in 2020 was the space and time to be creative, to think and focus and find what was inside of us. Like an empty canvas, our minds were clear, open for the music that was about to flow. There were no restrictions, rules, agendas, considerations. As Donnell often said, ‘Let the music decide.’ So, we indulged in full musical freedom, throwing patterns of the past aside. With a few challenges along the way, it was a delight from beginning to end.” (Natalie MacMaster)
Michigan based singer-songwriter Aspen Jacobsen is still only eighteen yet producing some great music, with a maturity that belies her age. “Shouldn’t Give A Damn” is a song of empowerment in the face of toxic relationships. You can find it on Aspen’s first full length album, “Arsonist Daughter”.
“I want to send a message to all my listeners – it’s alright to make yourself a priority and let go of relationships that give nothing in return.”
“Sometimes I Wonder” is the latest single from Edmonton AB’s Mallory Chipman. It explores the balance between finding home in one’s own solitude, and the comfort and surrender that comes from letting somebody in.
Jill Barber is returning to her folk-roots on her new album “Homemaker” which focuses on the humility and strength it takes to create and maintain a home for others, while still maintaining space to realize your own dreams.
“Homemaker is an intentional pushback against the worn-out notion of what it means to be ‘just a homemaker’. I was afraid to break the spell of the more romantic version of myself that I put out there in the world and which helped define my career, but I eventually reached a breaking point where I needed to write this album in order to reconcile these two versions of myself, and feel okay about all aspects of who I am.”
Americana-Folk singer-songwriter Sofia Talvik sings in Swedish on “Blod eller black” (which translates as ‘blood or ink’), the title track of the latest album from her folk jazz duo project Hansan, where she is joined by David Floer on cello.
“Mo Mhàthair” is a Celtic song, sung in Gaelic, by Mary Beth Carty from Antigonish NS. A song in praise of mothers, it was written by Neil MacLean during the Spanish flu pandemic. You can find it on Mary Beth Carty’s latest release, “Crossing The Causeway”; a multicultural project which features songs sung in English, French and Gaelic.
Winnipeg singer-songwriter Andrina Turenne picked up a Juno for best roots album with her former band, Chic Gamine. The wonderful driving “Tour du monde” is the first single from Andrina’s intriguingly titled solo album “Bold As Logs”.
“When my last group ceased touring and recording in late 2015, I knew that my next chapter would be a solo one. It was really great to challenge myself in this way and it built up my confidence as a solo artist, musician and composer. Where I’m at now, it feels like the free-est I’ve ever been creatively.”
“She Don’t Know What To Sing About Anymore” comes from “Common Nation of Sorrow”, the latest album from Nashville based Rachel Baiman, and a recording Rachel produced herself.
“When I was a kid, my dad was in this tiny fringe political group called the Democratic Socialists of America. That was considered extreme, so it was something I didn’t tell my friends about. Now my generation has had to wake up to the intensity of our own economic oppression. We sit around talking about how anyone affords to buy a house, and how we can get rich people to pay for our albums.”
“I Remember Everything” was the final song that the late great John Prine wrote. An ode to the things in life you never forget, New England folk duo Folkapotamus have included a beautiful cover of the song on their latest EP, “We’ll Dance Again”.
“Superhuman” is the latest single from London ON female vocal trio The Pairs. It’s a call to drop the hyper perfectionism many of us suffer from… and just be. It’s the first single from their forthcoming EP “When Will We Find Our Way?”, which they hope will get people to rethink the way they express themselves in the world.
“We’re not perfect, so why do we put so much energy towards trying to convince people that we are? “Superhuman” marks the intention to try and drop the hyper perfectionism and accept ourselves as fallible and human. We don’t want “superhuman strength and sheer will,” we want softness and closeness and to be seen as the complicated, imperfect, people that we are.”
New Brunswick’s Jessica Rhaye wrote “I Won’t Break” as a modern take on the Lesley Gore classic “It’s My Party”. You’ll be able to find it on “Sunshine Baby”, Jessica’s forthcoming album with her band The Ramshackle Parade.
“When I was a teenager, I was part of a school choir and one of the songs I used to sing lead on was Lesley Gore’s 60’s classic “It’s My Party”, a sad song lyrically for an upbeat pop tune. It came to me when we finished writing “I Won’t Break”, that our song is a modern twist on Gore’s character. Instead of crying over an unfaithful lover in “It’s My Party”, in “I Won’t Break” they are taking a stand and showing no sign of weakness, no crying, no backing down.”
That’s all we have time for. Thanks to all the artists who share their music with us, and thank you for listening. We have lots of great music and interviews to bring you on future episodes.
If you enjoy the music we play on this show and want to support the artists – don’t just stream their music – that earns them much less than a penny per play. Instead, buy their music – and really make a difference to their income. They’ll love you for it!
Stay safe and well everyone!
You can listen to this episode again on Soundcloud by following the link below. You can also listen to episodes of Folk Roots Radio, on demand, via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Tune-in Radio. (Click on the highlighted link to reach your chosen platform.)
His Mother Called Him Angel (Instrumental Version) (Theme)
Abandoned Companions (2018, Self) CDN
Willow (2023, Self) CDN
Shout For More (2022, Self) CDN
Shouldn’t Give A Damn
Arsonist Daughter (2022, Self)
Sometimes I Wonder
(single) (2022, Tunnel Mountain Records) CDN
Woman Of My Own Dreams
Homemaker (2023, Outside Music) CDN
Blod eller bläck
Blod eller bläck (2023, Makaki Music)
Mary Beth Carty
Crossing The Causeway (2023, Self) CDN
Tour du monde
(single) (2023, Self) CDN
She Don’t Know What To Sing About Anymore
Common Nation of Sorrow (2023, Signature Sounds)
I Remember Everything
We’ll Dance Again (2022, Phat Cat Records)
Superhuman (Radio Edit)
(single) (2023, Self) CDN
I Won’t Break
Sunshine Baby (2022, Self) CDN