I have to admit. I am a sucker for harmony. I can’t harmonize myself – at least I don’t think I can – but I admire anyone who can do it. To me, the interplay between human voices is as close to musical heaven as you can get. You’ve no doubt heard about those angels who sing on high—especially during the Christmas season. Well, take a listen to Rollyn Zoubek, Rachel Taylor, and Courtney Reid – the three women who make up Maeve. It’ll be love at first sound. Rollyn answered some of my questions here!
(left to right: Courtney Reid, Rachel Taylor, Rollyn Zoubek)
Maeve’s vocals are key to your sound. How do you decide who sings what?
Each of us are first and foremost vocalists, and we all picked up other instruments (guitar and piano) later in life in order to accompany the vocals. Having grown up singing in the church, we also share a love for harmony. Courtney and I joke about how the hymns were always written for sopranos and therefore too high for us to sing. In order to sing along and have it sound half-way decent we had to learn to find our own harmony parts. Arranging vocals for our songs is usually the most fun part of the creative process for us. We try our best to find a vocal arrangement that serves the song. For example, Rachel wrote a song called “Benediction” that has an older, back-porch feel to it. We decided that singing three-part harmony all the way through was a good fit for the song. Courtney wrote a song called “Just Want to Forget” that is about running into an old boyfriend at the mall. In that song she takes the lead because she is the primary story teller. My personal favorite style of vocal arranging is using counter-melodies much like you hear in older Indigo Girls songs. “Magnificat” from our Christmas record is a great example of that.
You’ve been playing together for over a decade now., Does your repertoire change from time to time?
We have been singing and writing together for eleven years and have recorded five records. Up until two years ago we were writing together regularly and constantly changing our repertoire. Then we hit some bumps in the road- Courtney lost her sister to cervical cancer, and Rachel and I both had new babies at home. It became difficult to find the time and energy we used to have to write new songs together, but we were still able to keep performing which kept us connected. Recently the urge to write together again has arisen and we are feeling inspired! We are hoping to share some new songs at the Me and Thee on Feb. 1st.
Are there songs that you haven’t played in a long time that you’d like to revisit and come up with something new to make them interesting to sing again?
I love that you asked this question because Rachel and I have been having a lot of fun lately listening to some of our older records and re-discovering songs that we used to love to play that somehow got left behind. We have been experimenting with a few for the Me and Thee show. You can expect to hear at least two oldies in a new form!
Tell us about songwriting. Do all three of you write?
Are any of you involved with any other musical configurations at the moment?
Yes, we do all write. During the past two years that Maeve has been taking a song-writing break, both Courtney and Rachel have released solo records of their own music (check out www.racheltaylormusic.com and www.courtneyreidmusic.com). Jim Trick, Rachel and I have also participated in a fun song-writing exercise (along with a handful of other song- writing friends) called “Song-a-Day In May,” during which we each attempt to write a song every day during the month of May. After each song is written we make a quick video of the song and upload to a private YouTube channel for the other writers to hear. It’s really fun and challenging and a bonding experience to share with the other writers. The range of topics that come up over the course of the month is amazing. Every year there’s one that gets everyone on the floor laughing. This past may it was Jim’s song “Chicken Ceasar Wrap Rap.” Maybe he’ll share that song with the Me and Thee audience!
Many of your songs are religious, yet they also speak to audience members who may not hold the same beliefs as you do. I’d say that’s a compliment because your music is a gift and you bring joy to so many —not just those who are Christian. Was the desire to sing songs of praise the common element that brought all three of you together in the first place?
Thank you, that is a compliment, and it is our hope that our music might bring hope and joy to people of many different walks of life. As I mentioned earlier, we all grew up singing in church. Courtney and Rachel are pastor’s kids. Faith is big part of each of our lives and therefore it is often a theme when we write together. We all believe that music is a gift from God and that it is our gift to share. Faith is the common element that brought us together and keeps us together after all these years.
More information about Maeve is at their website.