Ivy Mairi is a heartfelt and exploratory singer-songwriter with a deep love for traditional folk music. 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 them – would 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 5 years, Ivy worked with Timmins as producer to record and release two albums: Well You (2007) and No Talker (2011).
During the winters of 2012 and 2013 Ivy and her longtime collaborator Matthew Bailey slowly and carefully recorded a new collection of songs. Half these songs were written when Ivy was 20 and living in Montreal, and the other half were new. The sparse arrangements and multi-tracked vocal lines on these songs mark somewhat of a departure from the more traditional folk style of Ivy's previous albums. In the Fall of 2014 Ivy and Matt released these songs as Nonbeliever.
Throughout her recordings, 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. She has toured extensively with her own band, and gospel-rock-revellers Bruce Peninsula, and has lent her voice to recordings by Isla Craig, Skydiggers, electronic producer Rene LaVice and also collaborates with cellist-singer Anne Bourne. She has brought independent music into her home community on Toronto Island through concerts at St. Andrew-by-the-Lake Church, her bonfire shows, and the popular summer music series she curated at the Island Cafe from 2011-2013. 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.