Accordionist, guitarist, and player of pocket-sized instruments, Mary Beth Carty of Nova Scotia possesses a magical voice that earned her a nomination for Traditional Singer of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. Carty’s new album, Crossing the Causeway, fuses traditional song, instrumental tunes, & originals to create a multilingual opus that reflects the diverse yet unified roots of her region. The project features some of Cape Breton Island’s best musicians and singers including Colin Grant (Rum Ragged), Bradley Murphy (Mhira Blood), and Donnie Calabrese (Sprag Session), and guest vocalists including Cassie and Maggie. Mary Beth has toured throughout Canada, performed in Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Rwanda, and DRCongo, and performed on Holland-America and NCL cruise lines. She is known for her entertaining live shows, ripe with sing-alongs, dance jigs, and all around good vibes!
For Crossing the Causeway, Mary Beth wanted to showcase some of the deeply-rooted traditional music that she performed over the years alongside original songs. Mary Beth features a range of emotions on this album, as well as layers of acoustic instruments ebbing and flowing through each track, and the sounds of friends singing lush vocals. The advance single, a 100-year-old Gaelic song called “Mo Mhàthair” (My Mother), received radio play on BBC and “Tow Truck Song” is currently climbing the CIOE East Coast Top 30. The album was #6 on the !Earshot National folk/roots/blues genre chart for the month of January!
Carty’s first solo album, Les biens-nommés, was nominated at the East Coast Music Awards in 2018. Composed mainly of original songs in her second language, French, the album features a powerful quartet of Mary Beth on accordion, Donald MacLennan on violin, and brothers Greg and Brendan Melchin as the rhythm section. All of the song titles are the first names of imaginary characters – Yvon, Anthony, Felix, Clare, and so on. On the strength of these songs, Mary Beth was invited by the Canadian Embassy in Kinshasa to perform with the all-female band Nkento Bakaji for an epic tour to Congo and Rwanda in 2014.
Before breaking out as a solo-artist, Mary Beth was half of a successful duo called Bette & Wallet, along with the multi-instrumenalist singer, Quebec’s Gabriel Ouellette. The duo released two albums and performed in every Canadian province. Their cult classic song Squeegees helped sell 4000 copies of their debut album, Voici… At the moment, Mary Beth’s original song Aliens are Nice from their second album Électrique is seeing a resurgence in light of recent news events. The duo performed at major Canadian folk festivals including Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Calgary, and toured around France five times.
In her free time, Mary Beth enjoys cultivating berry patches, cooking, and hiking. She also enjoys sending snail mail. The opening song from Crossing the Causeway, Dear Island, is in part a tribute to her affinity for writing letters and postcards as a way of keeping in touch with old friends. The song Blueberry Mountain was inspired by a hike in Cape Breton Highlands national park, and was commissioned by the CBC for the pandemic edition of The Story and the Song radio-special.