Ivy Mairi grew up on Ward’s Island, which is a ten-minute ferry ride from downtown Toronto. As a teenager she would leaf through her mother’s books of traditional songs and – not knowing many of the songs – make up her own melodies for the lyrics she found. With time, she began to write her own words as well. In 2005, 17 year-old Ivy was introduced to Michael Timmins of Cowboy Junkies, who began to informally record her early songwriting experiments. Over the following year, Ivy worked with Timmins as producer to record and release her first album Well You. Four years, and many, many shows later, Ivy found herself with a new batch of songs written while touring as a member of prog-gospel revellers Bruce Peninsula, during a year at university in Montreal, and amidst each of her returns home to Toronto’s rich musical community. So, in 2011 Ivy – this time with her new backing band – teamed up once again with Michael Timmins to record her new album No Talker. Sometimes expressing a joyful energy, other times a quiet melancholy, the songs on No Talker combine Ivy’s pop sensibility with her knowledge of traditional music and her love of experimentation. Ivy’s lyrics are quirky and personal, but have a universal quality that stays true to her love of classic song-craft – inspired equally by Neil Young, Lauryn Hill, and British folk singer Shirley Collins. The songs on No Talker are brought to life by Ivy’s band – which includes some of her best musical friends, as well as her long-time supporter and influence, cellist and singer Anne Bourne – both in the bright mandolin and banjo on East of the Don, the moody rocker No Talker, or the swooping, euphoric build on Kenyatta. Central to the album, though, is Ivy’s special voice that sometimes rings out in victory and other times settles into a scratchy, sorrowful hush. Live, Ivy’s giddy stage banter, bright energy, and soulful voice fill the room, whether she is performing solo and singing a traditional a capella song out into the corners of an old church, or in full rock- band form on Toronto’s Dakota Tavern stage.
In the years since her first recording experiments with Michael Timmins, Ivy has
found her feet in some of Toronto’s finest musical circles. She has toured Canada and the United States multiple times with her own band, and Bruce Peninsula, and has lent her voice to recordings by Bellewoods, Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson, Entire Cities, Isla Craig, and electronic producer Rene LaVice. She has brought independent music into her home community on Toronto Island through her annual spring concerts at St. Andrew-by-the-Lake Church, her bonfire shows, and the popular summer music series she curates at the Island Cafe. Ivy has been able to channel her love of traditional folk ballads, work songs, and sacred music into kith&kin, the vocal trio she shares with her sister Martha, and their mother, author Kathleen McDonnell, who pack Toronto’s Music Gallery for their annual holiday show. Ivy also moonlights as a squaredance caller.
Ivy Mairi’s No Talker is inspired by people come and gone, music seen and heard, and the beautiful day-to-day of this heartfelt and joy-carrying young woman. Watch for Ivy’s album release tour this fall!