Lovers of Celtic music know that some of the best expressions of the style come indirectly across the pond, via the musically vibrant filter of Atlantic coastal Canada, specifically the province of Nova Scotia.
Accordionist, guitarist, and player of multiple pocket-sized instruments, Mary Beth Carty possesses a magical voice that earned her a nomination for Traditional Singer of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2009.
A natural singer and musician, of her musical beginnings, Mary Beth says, “My mother loves to sing, so I think even while I was in the womb I was really bathed in music, because my mother is literally always singing.” As a child, Mary Beth enjoyed singing for whatever audience arose: “I kind of liked to ham it up, and sing when we had visitors over.” As a teen she taught herself guitar, mandolin and bass. At around age 19, she picked up the accordion, which is her now main instrument, when she’d not playing guitar.
Her second solo album, Crossing the Causeway, features traditional songs and instrumental tunes, along with three original songs. The combination reflects the diverse yet unified roots of her region. The album could be categorized as Canadian Celtic, folk, and world music. It takes listeners on a multicultural journey seeking to connect the cultural traditions of eastern Nova Scotia that inspired it, and features songs in English, Gaelic and French, along with tributes to Mi’kmaq culture and Black Loyalist traditions.
Carty’s first solo album, Les biens-nommés, was nominated at the 2018 East Coast Music Awards in the Roots and Traditional category, and led to invitations to perform across Canada, on cruise ships, and around the world (Rwanda, Austria, Italy, and more). Her previous duet band, Bette & Wallet, released two albums, toured France on five occasions, and played the Canadian folk festival circuit.
By Dan Walsh