| Don’t let anyone kid you that music is made by a computer chip. Or that software can replace heart and soul. Great musical experiences are built on passion, excitement, commitment, nuance and love of the art form. And these are what define Mary Jane Guiney’s artistic journey.
Blessed with one of Australia’s great soul voices, MJ has devoted a lifetime to this music – blues, R&B, soul, jazz and funk. She has made guest appearances in New Orleans with that city’s very finest musicians.
Sometimes it takes a while for the right moment to arrive. It’s true of any art form, but especially so for singers, whose journey – the learning, the inspiration, the bar gigs, the festival stages, the musicians, the producer – to that career-defining moment when everything finally falls into place is necessarily never a quick one.
But MJ is at that point now, with her solo album Stay True recorded in New Orleans with some of that legendary music scene’s best players, for whom the word ‘awesome’ is for once pretty appropriate.
Looking back on a career that’s spanned three decades, it’s obvious that MJ has always been true to her belief in herself and the music she loves. Her debut album’s title sums it all up.
Her very first full-time gig was with the Ron Barry Band back in the mid-eighties, in a line-up that in fact was the famed Renee Geyer band by another name. The gig lasted 10 years, a testament to the band’s – and MJ’s – quality, in a fickle music scene where a year can be a lifetime.
Renee Geyer was one of MJ’s earliest inspirations and mentors, and MJ has continued to work with Renee’s long-time collaborator and guitar player Mark Punch. Mark was with Renee right from the start of her stellar career, as guitarist and songwriter, and was there at the start of MJ’s career as well. Now he’s produced and played guitar on the Stay True album, along with Crescent City musical alumni.
MJ’s route to getting Stay True out into the world began in Ireland, her birthplace before a family relocation to Sydney, Australia. She played her first gig at 16, ran away to join a band at 17, and has been on the road, figuratively speaking, ever since.
In 2001 she returned to Ireland, from where she made the first of many trips to the USA.
New Orleans, her spiritual home in a musical sense (and where just about any gig is a master class in groove) became the focus of her music-making, the place where her obvious talent and passion to create has led to collaborations with some of that city’s best musicians. She was invited to join some true legends on stage including Walter Wolfman Washington and the late Coco Taylor band in Chicago as well as many greats back in Australia.
These days she tends to perform her own, original material. Her debut album Stay True showcases her distinctive soulful voice and worldly yet intimate song writing style.
“Small in stature, yet big in voice and heart, Mary Jane is an artist who is a treasure to all she touches”. Renard Poche (Allen Toussaint)