Keeping Our Eye On: Mary Margaret May

March 30, 2012

Business

Jackson soprano vocalist Mary Margaret May is back with another release of classical and inspirational songs.

I Asked the Lord (available on iTunes, Pandora and Amazon.com) is the third album from May, who got her start singing in church and at Jackson Preparatory School. She earned a bachelor’s in vocal performance from Mississippi College where she is currently completing a graduate degree in vocal pedagogy.

May’s first album In the Shadow of Thy Wing was released in 2010.

Also an actress, May has starred in numerous MC productions including Little Women, The Secret Garden and Oklahoma! May says her favorite acting role to date was as Cosette in the Pearl Actor’s Playhouse Production of Les Miserables.

May recently talked about her new album with the Mississippi Business Journal.

Q: So this is your third album?

A: Yes, I actually recorded this one before I recorded my Christmas album, Upon a Winter Night (released in 2011).

Q: How long have you been singing?

A: Since I was 13. A close family friend of ours Winona Costello started Attaché Show Choir at Clinton High School. We had her over to lunch one day and she said, “Marty (my mom), can I take your girls back to the piano and see if they can sing.” I started taking lessons and stayed with her all throughout high school.

Q: Did you sing at all before that?

A: I wanted to be a country music singer. I belted LeAnn Rimes, Shania Twain, Reba McEntire- all those people- at the top of my lungs and I would just turn them way up and dance around in my room.

Q: Do you still like country music?

A: What I appreciate are the lyrics and how they tell a story. I hardly ever listened to country music radio. One time a year ago I turned it on just to see what would happen and it made me cry, the song that was on. That’s just how country music is. It’s emotional. That’s what I appreciate about it. But the twang? I don’t know… it’s just not easy on my ears.

Q: Who’s your current instructor?

A: (Mississippi College professor) Kristen Johnson and I love her she’s great.  She’s really transformed my voice. I don’t know if I could have recorded these CD’s- I mean I still could have- they just wouldn’t have been as good if it hadn’t been for her instruction.

Q: What do you think of Skylar Laine (Brandon native and finalist on this year’s American Idol)?

A: I think she’s really good. Her stage presence is phenomenal.

Q: Talk about your experiences performing live…

A: For me, the performance just comes when you feel it. It just kinda comes out of it. I don’t try to do things. I just let them happen. I like being able to- after I sing- to be able to hear a pin drop. Just feel like people are with me and feeling what I’m feeling. I sing at church and we don’t applaud and I kind of like it because I’m not up there to try to get the attention on me. I want it to be directed to the Lord. There’s nothing like singing in church. I’m more nervous singing in church than anywhere else.

Q: Tell us about I Asked the Lord.

A: The inspiration for this album came from when I was going through a very difficult part in my life. I love old hymns and these are just the ones that I especially clung to during that time.  I was struggling with, “Why does God have us go through trials?” It is only because Jesus went through trials. I wanted to expound on that. He puts us through them because he loves us and wants us to be drawn closer to Him. He always brings us out. He doesn’t want us to be miserable.

Q: You have a performance coming up April 3 at Mississippi College. What are some of the songs that you have selected to sing?

A: I’ll start off with a Bach aria from the Saint Matthew Passion. The time of my recital is around Easter and Bach intended for this oratorio to be performed on Good Friday. I’m doing a German set of Strauss and Schubert and I’m doing a Franz Liszt art song. Also a John Duke set that I’ve been working on for two years. He’s an American composer and it’s a five movement work.

Mary Margaret Likes

Food: Babalu Taco’s & Tapas in Jackson

Sports: Ole Miss Rebels

Movies: “Les Miserables”

Books: “The Valley of Vision” by Arthur Bennett

Music: Coldplay

(Photo courtesy of marymargaretmay.com) Jackson classical vocalist Mary Margaret May looks at her latest album not as a shot at fame or fortune but as a ministry.

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About Stephen McDill

Stephen McDill joined the Mississippi Business Journal in 2008 after working in radio and television. He is a graduate of Belhaven University and has won awards for his writing and photojournalism from the Associated Press and Mississippi Press Association.

View all posts by Stephen McDill

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