Posted On 18 Dec 2017
Accomplished New York City soulful jazz-pop singer and composer, Mary Gatchell, released her seventh album, “Camino Real,” a journey of dancing R&B tunes, intense heartbreaking ballads, and sweet tropical soul on November 10th. Produced by the extraordinary Netherlands-born keyboardist, producer and arranger, A.T.N. Stadwijk (who performed or recorded with Maxwell, Kenny Garrett, Harry Belafonte, Paul, Simon, Richard Bona among many others).
Classically trained as an oboist, pianist, and composer, Gatchell received her first taste of jazz as a teen when her father gave her a copy of John Coltrane’s Love Supreme. She grew up surrounded by jazz, musical theater, pop, and classical music but was also drawn to the high-energy live performances of pop giants, such as Madonna and Michael Jackson. Thus she began creating her own style of music with elements of R&B, jazz and soul, with a touch of classical music. After forming a band in 1999 with fellow NYU students, Gatchell gigged throughout NYC at notable music venues, including Blue Note, Rockwood Music Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, Birdland, Knitting Factory, The Bitter End, and CBGB’s. She also recorded and released six albums over the past 16 years, and headlined summer tours throughout Italy from 2011-2016.
In addition, Gatchell has sung at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Newark’s Prudential Center with the Rolling Stones for their 50th Anniversary tour. In 2015, Mary also sang on Broadway as part of the ensemble for Smash: Bombshell the Musical.
Gatchell’s smooth vocals, elaborate songwriting, lush harmonies, and flowing melodies have enraptured music fans and pros alike. Legendary jazz pianist, Benny Green, extols Gatchell as “a musical goddess [with] so much soul and feeling and rhythm and so meticulous…I feel that powerful deep groove.” Renowned pop/R&B producer Leon Lacey calls Gatchell “a soulful genius on stage and in the studio.”
Connect With Mary Gatchell Here:
Learn more about Mary Gatchell in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it? What music gets you instantly out of a bad mood? What is a song you are loving these days?
Hi there! Thanks for having me. I’m listening to Democracynow.org right now. I try to listen every day. It’s an incredibly informative independent progressive news station focused on supporting social justice.
Music that makes me happy is The Shaggs! It always puts a smile on my face. I know the members of the band, as we share the same hometown in New Hampshire. Their story and music is completely unique! A song I’m digging these days is “A Touch in the Night” from the album Nomvula by Freshly Ground, a South African band.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there a time where you thought of doing something completely different?
For most of my childhood, I wanted to be a professional basketball player. I loved playing so much and worked hard at it. I wanted to be the first girl in the NBA. This was pre-WNBA. 🙂 That certainly didn’t happen. Although I was always making music being in musicals, in church choirs, and playing oboe and piano, I didn’t think of it as a profession. It wasn’t until I was in high school went to SYMS, a band camp at UNH, that I thought, “Hmmm, this is something I need to do!” My earliest musical memory is being on stage as a townsperson in my mom’s production of “The Music Man.” I was 5 years old.
Overall, how do you think 2017 has been for you and music career? What are you most excited about for in 2018?
This has been an extremely exciting year for me musically! We released the album, Camino Real, a collection of 9 original songs. The biggest thrill for me was making the album with producer, A.T.N. Stadwijk. I hope we can take the band on tour in 2018 and really get this album out there for the world to hear.
I always like to ask artists about where they came from and how that city or town has influenced them as an artist now. So how do you think your hometown and current home has affected you and your music today?
I’m from a small, rural town in New Hampshire. Epping has about 5,000 people in it and a small school system. This and my family shaped everything for me. Because we were so small, we knew everyone and at school we were able to participate in many activities, from sports to band to student government to theatre and art. This made the kids pretty well-rounded. There weren’t cliques like there were in other schools. There weren’t enough kids to make a clique! The ones who participated did everything. I’m so happy to have had those experiences. My mother runs a performing arts center, Leddy Center, in my town and is the choir director at church. My dad is a retired band director and was my music teacher in Epping from grades 4-12. My family makes their living in our town through the arts and I’m so grateful for that. I didn’t have to go far to gain a strong musical foundation in musical theatre, jazz, and classical music.
Living in NYC for many years has added a whole other dimension to my musical education and experiences. It goes without saying! I love being able to go hear the best in jazz, Afro-Cuban, Caribbean, opera, Brazilian, classical, and African, and more on any given night. I’m honored to be working with some of the best musicians in the world.
What does it feel like to be releasing your 7th album, “Camino Real” this month? Are you ever surprised that you are still making music?
It feels good, but the best part is making it. Now, the album is out there. What shape it takes from here on is out of my hands. I’m looking forward to writing for the next album now. I’m not surprised I’m still making music at all. It’s what I am! I can’t not make music.
Were there any unexpected surprises about the process of making this album? What was it like working with the Netherlands-born keyboardist, producer and arranger, A.T.N. Stadwijk?
Working with A.T.N. on this project brought me many joyful tears. He turned my world upside down. Without him, this album simply would not be. We were meant to work together on this. It has been one of the most fulfilling and profound experiences of my life to share this process with A.T.N. I love how his brain works! His joy, his tenacity, and his fierce musical expression come through in every moment. He compliments my intentions and feelings at every turn. I’ll never forget these cherished moments working together. I want him to do my next album, “Civil Disobedience.” He somehow knows how to tap into exactly what I’m trying to say. It’s unbelievable to me.
What was the inspiration for your album’s lead single “You’ve Been on My Mind”?
I was consumed by a recent break up. We both still cared for each other deeply, but it wasn’t working. Even though we weren’t together anymore, we were still on each other’s minds. That was a tough one. When you still care, it’s much harder.
I have to ask what it was like performing with the Rolling Stones for their 50th Anniversary Tour?
This was the most intense performing experience. Being in front of 15,000-20,000 people took me to a place I didn’t know existed. And doing it with the Stones was the ultimate. I can’t thank Evi Troester of Ghostlight enough for inviting me to be on this gig. I was blown away by the passion and musical integrity of the band and their full commitment to giving everything they’ve got to the fans and to the music. This made a big impression on me.
Can you recall a favorite performance of yours in the past? What was the venue and crowd like? What do you think essentially makes for an ideal show for you?
Playing for my hometown a couple months ago at Leddy Center for the Performing Arts was really special. The audience was so kind and warm. You could hear a pin drop. This was ideal. The sound was great, the band was tight, and people were invested in the music and the message.
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? How do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these difficult times?
Being a musician gives me great joy, whether I’m playing or teaching. For me, it’s important to balance these things and to share music, not just from a stage, but also in a learning environment. My message is about sharing our gifts, our love, and our light with others and encouraging them to do the same. Without artists expressing their ideas, the world would be a very bleak place. We need music and art more than ever! The destruction of our planet and our souls is at stake, and it’s imperative we take progressive action. Music is a part of that. It nourishes the spirit and aligns your mind to what truly matters in life: Love.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
I would love to work with Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, and Quincy Jones. They are tops for me!
What do you hope your fans take away from your music? Do you think there is a greater music in your songs?
I hope people dig the music. Simple as that.
What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about becoming a musician one day?
You have to listen to your heart and commit to this life. It’s probably one of the hardest things to do well, but one of the most rewarding.
Would you like to share anything else about yourself or your music with our readers?
Thank you for checking out my music. When you listen, it’s a journey we take together. Let’s take the high road, Camino Real!