Jonathan Edwards

Quick Q and A with Meghan Cary

Meghan Cary is inspirational in all the right ways.  The first time I heard her sing “Sing Louder,” I knew that I needed to learn more about her and her musical path.  She has so many stories to tell in a variety of ways—narrative, song, and in play form.  Meghan has an authenticity about her that is unlike many others on similar stages.  She is capable of uplifting her audiences and encouraging them to listen carefully…and to sing!

To find out more about Meghan, go to her website.

Here’s a video of Meghan singing “Sing Louder.”

Meghan Cary will be performing at the me&thee in Marblehead, MA on Friday, October 4, 2019.

Your biography states that you didn’t mean to be a musician.  That’s a perfect and intriguing way to begin a music bio.  I know it’s a long story, but can you give us the short version of how you discovered the music inside?

I started writing music after my fiancé died suddenly. I picked up Matti’s guitar and started trying to play it because music was something we’d shared – I used to sing with him (mostly just harmony on the choruses of the cover songs he played in bars and venues) – and when he died, I wanted so badly to keep something, and music seemed to be a thing I could have for a bit. I didn’t know any songs start to finish (just those choruses) so I made up my own. I had no intention of playing them for other people – I wrote and sang them for myself, to get through that intensely sad time in my life. But no matter how hard I tried to go another way, life kept pushing me back to “being a musician” until finally, I agreed. Matti used to say: “Angels are messengers. They come to bring us something and then they leave. But the message is ours to keep.” He brought me music, and I’ve decided to keep making it.

Not only do you write songs, but you have written a short book called “Sing Louder: The Stories Behind the Songs” as well as a one-woman play called “On the Way to the Waterfall.”  That’s a lot of creativity!  Your life story gives hope to many people, is the idea that you can reach more people by presenting your story in different formats?

Definitely. I have a little plaque on my desk that says: “share your story to set someone else free”. Doesn’t matter how you share it, just that you do.

I know that it’s probably virtually impossible to explain your creative muse but if you could give some advice to those who are looking for a creative outlet, what would you say?

Get quiet and listen. Pain definitely focuses us, and I believe that’s why so much music is inspired by sad stories, but you don’t need the pain to make the art. You just need to settle into the truth of the moment. Be present. Get up from your desk and all the future to do’s and past regrets it represents. I wrote a lot of my first songs to the rhythm of my own footfall on the rocky trails leading up into the Catskill Mountains.

What was your relationship to music before you started writing your own songs?  Did you admire any particular songwriters as beacons of hope and inspiration?

I grew up in a pretty quiet household. Well, musically anyway. I was the youngest of five so there was always a lot of ruckus, a lot of noise, and my mom really didn’t want music layered on top of it all. Plus, my dad is and was then almost profoundly deaf. What little hearing he had left he used at work – he was a psychiatrist – and background music made it all the harder for him to hear at home. So, my big brother saved up for a stereo that he kept in his own room in the basement, and I grew up listening to his music: Elton John, Neil Young, CSNY and the Eagles…not what my peers were into. Very early on I was exposed to music with real stories, lush harmonies, and emotional melodies. Then Matti introduced me to Jonathan Edwards and Jimmy Cliff among others. And that somehow led me to Indigo Girls, Shawn Colvin, and Nanci Griffith. It was those last three that were ringing in my ears when I first started writing my own music.

Tell us about the recording experience of your songs “Sing Loud” and “Responsibility.”  Did the end results surpass your original expectations?

Absolutely! I invited 48 friends, listeners, family members from my musical community into the studio to sing on both those songs – just like they do when I play them live. That day, so many of them stepped way out of their comfort zones to don headphones and sing on a microphone. And when they did, the energy shift in the room was palpable. All those voices raised together vibrated through every one of us. We all felt it. And Glenn (Barrett of MorningStar Studios) captured it on the record. It was a profound experience and I’m so grateful to every soul that sang their heart out that day.

We would love to know more about your next play production project called “The Accidental Caterer.”  It sounds intriguing.  Is it based on any personal experiences?

“TAC” is a fun and often moving musical about a woman who loses everything and in the course of trying to get it all back, realizes she might want something drastically different. I’ve never thought of it as being based on my own personal experience because the playwright, Eric Lane, and his husband came up with the story idea long before I was even in the picture. But I guess some of my story has been infused into it because as they were developing the story, they were listening to a lot of my music. In fact, at first, they just asked if they could use a few of my songs in the show. But then one thing led to another and they ended up asking me to collaborate with them. It’s been an amazing journey!

We’re still rewriting and workshopping the show…it’s definitely a much longer process than I’d ever expected!! We’ve had several readings along the way and two full-up staged readings with an invited audience, and the feedback has been very encouraging. So…hopefully I’ll be letting you know when you can catch it on the Great White Way!

What other plans do you have up your sleeves for the near future?

I guess I’m most excited about speaking engagements – giving keynote speeches or talks with music. It’s a brand new avenue of story sharing for me, and I really enjoy it. I’m also working on my next book based on my first record. It’s coming out less like a book of stories behind the songs and more of a reflection on what happens when the dust clears after life serves up a train wreck. And, of course, there are always more songs to write!