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The WDVX Blue Plate Special – 5/22 – Mary Scholz
May 22 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
The stage is dark. The ice in your glass clinks as you take a sip. When the lights come up, and Mary Scholz steps onto the stage, a warmth comes over you that has nothing to do with drink. Barefoot, with dark curls cascading, she is at once whimsical and grounded. Just one woman with an acoustic guitar, but fills the room from the moment the music leaves her lips. The sound seeps into you like honey. You feel seen. You feel human. You feel loved.
For years, Mary’s stunning voice and evocative songwriting have made her a live circuit favorite. The Philadelphia native has toured nationally for over a decade and made several excursions to Europe. Every time Scholz takes the stage, she forges a personal connection with her audience. As the Music Junkie Press put it, “To see Mary Scholz live in concert is to fall in love. It is not just the flashing dark eyes or the crown of black ringlets or the confident, welcoming body language at the microphone. It is the voice and the lyrics — the music that flows from the stage…you know this woman and her music and you want to spend the rest of your life listening to her.”
Growing up, Mary had a deep reverence for music. She was always drawn to the spiritual resonance of dusty church organs and captivated by the lyricism of seventies sweethearts like Joni Mitchell and James Taylor. She grew up dancing, playing both piano and flute, and came to the guitar later, as a teenager. She went on to earn a BFA from the University of the Arts. But just as she would sing, years later, that she “knew about California,” she always knew her voice would be her primary instrument. On the road, she would also deepen her relationship to the guitar and begin a more nuanced level of exploration.
Today, Mary is based in Los Angeles, where her unique brand of gritty folk-charm has helped her make her mark. “I’ve been referred to as a ‘folk explorer with spacey roots and wings.’ I’m a fan of that one,” Mary says. Though she’s quick to follow that her musical genre is always evolving alongside her creative process. “I think it’s it’s important that artists can be exactly who they are, not who they think they should be, and create from that space.” That throughline of authenticity has set Mary’s music apart from the beginning.
Much of Scholz’s material considers how transitions color the human experience, as well as the side effects of love and loss. Her 2014 release, The Girl You Thought You Knew explores the self in relation to the other, and the bittersweetness of separation and self-actualization. In addition to its folk-pop title track, the album includes the HMMA-nominated song, “Bridges We Burn.” In 2017, Mary followed up with another breakout record, California. The album was recorded live in one room, to an Ampex 8-track tape machine. It was also the artist’s first vinyl pressing.
California marked a turning point in Scholz’s work and broadened her fanbase. “I don’t always get chills when I find a new artist, but I absolutely did with Mary Scholz,” wrote a journalist at Ear to the Ground Music. “There’s a purity in her performance that only comes along once in a while. The clarity in the composition is evident, allowing Scholz’s vocal to cut through the sound. It’s romantic and invigorating…[“California”] truly a treat of a pop-folk song.”
A music video for the song “Murder Ballad” followed the album release. The video garnered attention for its stark examination of abusive relationships, and the ways they inform one’s self-image and interactions with the world. With the release of the single “The Mother Song: Wild Womxn,” Scholz pushed her boundaries even further, telling a profound story of womanhood that is at once personal and utterly universal. Beyond their positive reception, “California” and “The Mother Song” also led to Mary’s partnership with Blue Élan records co-founder, Kirk Pasich, and the affiliated company, KZZ Music.
“One of the things I so appreciate about Kirk, and his team, is that they are really interested in cultivating a community, and creating space for artists to do what they do best. That gives me a platform to be myself, which is a beautiful thing,” she says.
Mary’s 2020 single, “LADY LIBERTY,” also touches on the broader aches of our modern world: “The song is written from the perspective of the Statue of Liberty,” she explains. “She is overlooking this country, seeing where we are failing to uphold the beliefs that we say are our foundation, demanding we acknowledge and make change.”
Planting her feet firmly in the Americana family, Scholz released the self produced EP “Lonesome” in 2021, which spent months on the Americana radio charts, both for the record as well as its toe-tapping title track. This led to the much anticipated release of “Begin Again” in 2022, a full length record produced by Jonathan Wilson (Father John Misty, Margo Price, Angel Olsen, Connor Oberst). The album is a 10 song Americana journey that paints a panoramic, starry landscape, addressing how we process life internally, to how we respond as a community.
To date, Mary has seven studio releases and various singles available on all major platforms and plans to release more this year. Though her music has shape-shifted through the years, she continues to espouse the same message of love, hope, and personal empowerment.