Soulful singer-songwriter MaryLeigh plays an intimate show at The Purple Fiddle in Thomas.
Written by Jack Baronner
Courtesy of JetPack Promotions
Nestled among the rugged Allegheny Mountains in Tucker County sits an old general-store-turned café called The Purple Fiddle. This rustic café offers up craft brews, freshly ground coffees, and live intimate acoustic performances from bands and songwriters from across the country. Gracing the stage of The Purple Fiddle on May 16, 2014, is Albany, New York, singer-songwriter MaryLeigh Roohan.
Debuting at age 17, MaryLeigh has embarked on an already impressive foray into the indie music scene. Forming a band in 2010 called MaryLeigh and the Fauves, a sort of ode to the early 20th century art movement Fauvism, she recorded and released her first album, The Docks. The album created a stir that opened up many performing opportunities, including LarkFest, Albany’s largest outdoor music festival. In 2012 Metroland, an alternative newsweekly in Albany, named MaryLeigh the Capital Region’s best female singer-songwriter.
Approaching the end of her senior year at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, MaryLeigh began work on her second album, Skin and Bone. Released in January 2014, Skin and Bone has seen the same success. MaryLeigh is soon to commence her first national tour promoting the album with stops in cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, and, of course, West Virginia’s own Thomas. With a population of less than 600 people and an area of only 4.5 square miles, Thomas is a tiny town that bursts with creativity. Today the former coal mining town is a small mecca that artists like MaryLeigh flock to.
With so much recent success, playing music seems like old hat to MaryLeigh, but she continues to enjoy the journey. All of the melodic sounds that emanate from her guitar are self-taught. “I always liked music, but I picked up the guitar when I was 15. That’s when I started learning how to play, obviously, but that’s when I started to fool around with writing as well,” she says, and laughs, “I still have trouble reading music.”
With an already rich sound to her music and haunting lyrics, MaryLeigh seems like an old grizzled veteran releasing yet another album. The fact is she’s young—just 22 years old—and still a new face on the scene. She believes there is always room for improvement. The future sees MaryLeigh honing her already sharp skills through even more singing, songwriting, and touring. “My goals are just to, you know, get better. And to learn as much as I can,” she says.
People identify MaryLeigh’s sound as everything from indie pop to folk rock, but she says the music she creates is indefinable. “I’m an admirer of so many people that when I sit down to write it’s very rare that I try to model my songs after a particular style, or person for that matter. I feel like I am a product of a bunch of different styles and tastes.”
With a busy schedule and even more hectic days ahead, MaryLeigh purely enjoys writing music, a process she calls “therapeutic.” Writing from a personal space, she puts her life into the rhythmic rise and fall of her voice. The importance of music in her life is evident, and she wants to share that with others. “I love connecting with people through music,” she says.
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