Mary Jane Lamond knows she will never be a pop star. But that doesn’t bother the Cape Breton-based Celtic artist, who has found a comfortable niche in the world music market.
“For me, it’s always been a slower build,” says Lamond, 39, whose hypnotic vocal work on Ashley MacIsaac’s Sleepy Maggie brought her national attention in 1997.
“I never really thought too much about being a pop music star. This kind of music is for music listeners and fans of folk and world music and stuff like that. It’s a smaller audience, but they’re a music listening audience.”
As with her previous albums Bho Thir Nan Craobh (From the Land of the Trees) — which was released while she was still in Celtic studies at Saint Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S. — and the acclaimed 1997 major label debut, Suas e!, Lamond’s latest release, Lan Duil, features a collection traditional Gaelic songs from the East Coast and the U.K.
“I’m always finding songs,” says Lamond, who performs tomorrow night at Quincy’s.
“Just when I think I’ve heard all the milling songs that have been popular in the last 100 years, I discover another one on tape somewhere. There are thousands and thousands of songs on tape. I’m not going to run out of songs to find, that’s for sure.”
Because of this vast library of material at her disposal, Lamond isn’t particularly interested in writing original music for herself.
Rather, she has become quite adept at “fiddling around” with music.
“I just arrange traditional songs,” she says.
“I really like working with instrumental music and doing the arrangements for the songs. I wouldn’t say I’m a songwriter, really. I’ve always just loved to sing.”
Lamond admits she had never considered music as a career option until about four years ago. She had intended, instead, to get a PhD in Celtic studies and become a university professor before she was lured away by her love of singing.
“I think nowadays I’m more interested in a grassroots position to promote the Gaelic language,” she says. “I’d like to work more in community development and Gaelic cultural programs at home. That interests me.
“But I’ve been so busy in the past year and a half that I haven’t been able to do much of that.”
And it doesn’t look like Lamond’s work load will lighten any time soon.
In addition to touring, Lamond is planning to release a live concert recording of traditional a cappella songs featuring veteran Cape Breton Gaelic singers. She also hopes to start writing and arranging music for films.
Lamond doesn’t know where this will all lead her musically, but she’s pretty sure it won’t be to the top of the charts.
“I’d like to explore the soundscape idea…. If anything, I’ll probably go less popular than more popular.”