Indie trio The Wailin’ Jennys visit Conversation Crossroad’s INDIEvening and talk about their CD, Bright Morning Stars.
The Wailin Jennys are Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody and Heather Masse. Starting as a happy accident of solo singer-songwriters getting together for a one-time-only performance at a tiny guitar shop in Winnipeg, Manitoba, The Wailin’ Jennys have grown over the years into one of today’s most beloved international folk acts. Founding members Ruth Moody and Nicky Mehta along with New York-based Heather Masse continue to create some of the most exciting and exquisite music on the folk-roots scene, stepping up their musical game with each critically-lauded recording and thrilling audiences with their renowned live performances.
In 2004, The Wailin’ Jennys released their first full-length album 40 Days in the to great critical acclaim, and in 2005 it won them a Juno Award (Canadian Grammy) for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year. Bolstered by their frequent appearances on Garrison Keillor’s public radio show A Prairie Home Companion, The Jennys exploded onto the roots music scene, performing at packed venues across the Canada, the U.S. and throughout the world. Their next CD Firecracker was a powerful follow-up to their debut album and found The Jennys stepping out of the folk realm and into the world of alt-country, pop and rock. Garnering much attention, it was nominated for a Juno Award and won a 2007 Folk Alliance Award for “Contemporary Release of the Year.” It charted for over 56 weeks on the Billboard charts and was followed up by their 2009 release Live at Mauch Chunk Opera House, which also spent over a year on the Billboard bluegrass charts. It captured the magic of their live performances with show-stopping harmonies, impressive instrumental prowess, breathtaking songs and witty stage banter.
Now, The Wailin’ Jennys join the ranks of Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris, recording their new studio album Bright Morning Stars with award-winning producer Mark Howard. Co-produced by frequent Jennys collaborator and Juno Award-nominated David Travers-Smith, the album combines fresh and innovative sounds with the band’s signature harmonies–a perfect mix of Americana, pop and traditional folk that is certain to be an instant classic.
Although known primarily as an acoustic outfit, The Wailin’ Jennys have a wide range of musical backgrounds that have formed their musical sensibilities. Soprano Ruth Moody (vocals, guitar, accordion, banjo, bodhrán) is a classically trained vocalist and pianist known as an accomplished, versatile singer of traditional and Celtic music and as the former lead singer of Juno-nominated roots band Scruj MacDuhk. She recently released her first full-length solo album The Garden, whose title track was the #4 most played song of 2010 on international folk radio. Mezzo Nicky Mehta (vocals, guitar, harmonica, drums, ukulele), a trained dancer raised on classical music, 70′s a.m. radio and heavily influenced by alternative pop, was nominated for a Canadian Indie Music Award for her solo album Weather Vane. In July 2009 she became the proud mother to twin boys, Beck and Finn, who join the band on tour as the newest Jennys roadies. Alto Heather Masse (vocals, upright bass) is a Jazz Voice graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, who has performed in Mark O’Connor’s Hot Swing, Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings and is a regular guest on A Prairie Home Companion. She has also toured with her own band, supporting her 2009 Red House release Bird Song. With their varying backgrounds, each of the Jennys is unique in their individual expression. Together they forge a unified folk-pop sound—all delivered with the irresistible vocal power of three.