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Mae McKenna doesn't just sing songs, she inhabits them. Her voice is a powerful and passionate instrument equally at home with Celtic traditional songs as much as original country/bluegrass flavoured compositions. Hers is a voice both ancient and modern, attractive and beguiling yet full of soul and sensuality.
Mae McKenna's roots are strongly Irish and Scottish. She grew up in Coatbridge near Glosgow, the youngest of three children with her brothers Hugh and John. Mae was raised in a house filled with music. Her parents and grandparents played music and songs from the variety theatre and the art songs of John McCormack to the classics of Frank Sinatra. At an early age she was exposed to jazz and classical music. At 14 she joined the Lanarkshire youth orchestra where she played viola. The sounds she heard at home included Art Tatum, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and the Tamta Motown classics on the radio all embedded in her teenage brain.
Mae joined her first group -- "Day" -- in high shool where she played viola with this gothic folk band. Playing in a local festival, her musical talents were noticed by another young band called Contraband. Some meetings later and a night visit to a friend's house in search of this elusive and talented young woman led to Contraband asking Mae to join them as lead singer. A Scottish folk rock legend was born.
Contraband featured Mae McKenna, George and Billy Jakcon, John Martin, Peter Cairney and Alec Baird. Their music was an exciting mixture of Irish and Scots traditional tunes, dramatic folk rock arrangements of classical ballads and contemporary songs. They attacked their mkusic with youthful vigour end energy. "We loved playing together," Mae recallse, "we alsyways used to play and sing on the way to gigs and coming back from them. Looking back I couldn't have wanted a better band to begin touring with." Life on the road was an adventure and Contraband toured all over Scotland and England.
Contraband signed with Transatlantic Records in 1973. They recorded their debut album Contraband in Chipping Norton studios in Oxfordshire. Released in May 1974, the album caught the young band in the cusp of their useful musical prowess and joi de vivre. Mae sung and played violin, viola and piano and joined with George and Billy's multi-instrumental talents, Peter's country tinged guitars, John's expert traditional fiddling and Alex's solod drumming to create a fresh new Celtic Rock sound. Contraband disbanded in 1975.
Mae McKenna began her solo career in 1975. She recorded three solo albums for Transatlantic Records: Mae McKenna (1975), Everything That Touches Me (1976) and Walk On Water (1977). She also appeared on radio and TV both as a guest and featured performer.
Her debut solo album Mae McKenna focused on dramatic ballads with lavish orchestrations and was a promising if pensive debut. Everything That Touches Me was a tasteful, melodic soft rock album with strong American West Coast country/rock leanings. Mae's exquisite voice wrapped itself round songs by Andrew Gold, Richard Thompson, Jackson Browne and Anne McGarrigle. The single "Crying in the Rain" received extensive radio airplay. Walk On Water continued the Transatlantic soft rock sound with songs by Kim Carnes, David Paich (Tot writer of the 1970s hit "Hold The Line") and the Motown standard "What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted."
01. Dying to Live Winter 3:51
02. Once in the Morning Webb 3:33
03. All in Love Is Fair Wonder 3:47
04. Other Side of Me Greenfield, Sedaka 3:12
05. Song for Simon Rafferty 3:03
06. Together We Get By Brook 3:50
07. Elderberry Wine John, Taupin 3:43
08. How Could We Dare to Be Wrong Blunstone, Dennys 3:45
09. Imagine Lennon 3:24
10. Black-Eyed Susan Brown Traditional 3:58
11. Said the Major Brook 2:54
12. Old Man Newman 4:00