Growing up on a Hertfordshire cul-de-sac then flying back ‘home’ to Kenya where her parents were born, shaped in Mara the traveller, the outsider and the romantic, that have become hallmarks of her music. Mara performs with her band (Poppy Ackroyd, Fiddes Smith, Jools Owen, Jamie Patterson) as well as solo.
Mara is classically trained in composition, piano and guitar as well as fine art. She has performed over 300 shows, both on festival stages and intimate concerts, most recent stages include Fusion (Germany), Kaltern Pop (Italy), Together the People (UK) and Sazavafest (Czech). Mara’s music has taken her across Europe, to New Zealand, Australia, the US and around home shores in England, performing in venues small and large, some conventional, some extraordinary (including canal boats, caves, and a hospital!). She’s become known for captivating audiences with her soulful melodies, rich lyricism, captivating voice, unassuming charm and wicked laugh.
“Through the dark and the light, it’s always been about stories. They pour in and percolate, the lines themselves beginning to move and dance and ignite. I never know when or how I’m going to write a song, as if it’s wiser and more powerful than I am. While I’m scrabbling about figuring things out, the song flows ahead of me. In that way it can never belong to me. And that’s where the connection takes place.
This year I worked with a choir. We stood, a sea of people listening between us, as we sang and played across the room. The song-stories became shared, interconnecting the audience, the choir, the band and me, each one of us finding our own peculiar meaning, each one of us, for that moment-in-time, sharing a beat, a rhythm, a breath and a heartbeat. Some kind of wholeness.
Music has held doors to the sublime and the ridiculous wide open to me. It’s been my passport to countries all over the world and the invitation to different venues, homes, journeys and conversations I could never have imagined. From shimmering roof tops to hospitals, festival main stages to 90 year old great-grandmother’s kitchen tables, music has granted me access to a world I’m thankful for. And when I get caught up within the war inside me, the confusion and torment, it’s the stories and the music that help sort everything out., that draw lines between all the souls who are not alone, those lines moving, dancing, igniting. Because without the dark there is no light. “