STORY WRITTEN BY CRAIG OSTROFF
For Digital First Media
She’s been based out of Los Angeles since 2011. She recently returned from a month-long European tour in which she played in the UK, Ireland and France. But for Havertown native Mary Scholz, there’s no place like home.
“It’s always nice to come home and play for the people who have been coming to see me perform since I was in the corner of some random bar in some random neighborhood,” said Scholz during a recent telephone interview upon her return to Philadelphia. “My family is still here, so it’s always nice to be able to come home, have a nice chunk of time to hang out with them and see my friends.”
Scholz will kick off her summer tour – a six-week, 18-gig tour across the country – with a June 6 performance at Philadelphia’s Tin Angel.
“I’m really excited to be playing the Tin Angel again,” Scholz said. “It’s one of my favorite places to play. It’s such a great listening room. It’s small enough to feel intimate and personal, and I’ll have a couple special guests that night as well.”
“Intimate and personal” is also an apt description of Scholz’s music. Her first full-length album, “The Girl You Thought You Knew,” was released in April 2014 and told the story of a life in flux via its soulful melodies and heartfelt, emotional lyrics.
A fairly sharp departure from her country-flavored 2010 EP “Water Rising,” “The Girl You Thought You Knew” proved to be a labor of love in every sense.
“It was quite a journey in creating that record,” Scholz said. “We had some rocky patches getting that record done, but I’m very grateful for how it turned out.
“The whole record is about transition. I moved across the country, a lot of things in my life changed — I learned a lot about how I wanted to live my life. It’s about shifting and changing and growing, wanting to see yourself for who you are. ‘This is me, let me step more confidently into who I am.’”
That confidence and honesty has always been, and remains, the impetus behind Scholz’s music.
“To me, what’s important is to be honest and helpful,” she said. “I don’t write big party songs. I’m a storyteller. That’s what I do. That’s who I am. That’s the reason I’m out there performing.
“If I have a very strong feeling about something, I have to sit down and write. I write about the way people are treated, how I’m treated, how others treat you, be it interpersonal relationships or just in general in the world. A lot of what I’ve been working on lately have been sad but hopeful songs, songs about self-awareness and not giving up. That’s been a major focus for me recently; it’s been more about taking an introspective look at yourself and the world around you.”
As personal and impassioned as her songs can be, Scholz said she has come to a new appreciation for the process of writing music and finding a way to reach others with her words and music.
“I love to sing and chat with people, and making that connection is still the most important part, but I have really come to love the process of writing,” she said. “Some songs can be hard when they’re freshly written, and they still can be. You have to bring yourself to a certain time and place in your life where you were when you wrote the song, and I really do feel the words when I sing them.
“I went through a divorce three years ago, which is where a lot of the writing on ‘The Girl You Thought You Knew’ came from. When you’re young and you go through something like that, it can be hard to connect with people. Being able to talk about it, write about it and share it was really helpful to me. As a performer, my hope is to reach people who are going through difficult personal separations of any nature. By being honest about what I went through, hopefully that will help someone who is going through something similar.”
That sincerity and connection with the audience can also be made with a more upbeat song as well. Scholz recently re-recorded and released the single “Love Me Still,” which first appeared on her 2008 EP “The Beauty of it All.” Having received requests from fans to use the song at their weddings, and having sung the song a few times at the weddings of her friends, Scholz went back into the studio to recut the track.
“People have used the song, which is so amazing, so I wanted to have a nicer version of it,” she said. “I wanted it to be a little more contemporary.”
Whether joyful or somber, introspective or celebratory, Scholz will bring her best to the Tin Angel on June 6. But it won’t be her first performance on that day. Scholz will be one of four musicians performing that day as part of the inaugural Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, which will feature 23 independent and YouTube artists performing in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign (www.reveal.thepixelproject.net), which aims to raise $1 million in aid of The Pixel Project (www.thepixelproject.net) and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (www.ncadv.org). The webcast concert is free, and information on logging on can be found on the Tour page of Scholz’s website, www.MaryScholz.com, which also features videos, music, tour dates, contact information and more. She can also be found on Twitter (twitter.com/maryscholz and Facebook (www.facebook.com/maryscholzmusic) and her music can be purchased on her website, as well as from iTunes and other online retailers.
“I think that’s an awesome opportunity to be able to do perform for The Pixel Project,” Scholz said. “I’m very particular with what I choose to talk about outside of music on my music platform. I don’t generally discuss politics or things like that. My goal is to show we’re all alike, for us to come together.
“The things I do bring up, they’re all about human rights and kindness and loving yourself and your fellow human beings. There’s a big battle to be fought in the area of equality of life between men and women and the violence is a huge problem in many areas of the world and it’s under-discussed. If we’re not helping each other and helping create a safe world for everyone to live in and contribute, we’re failing each other. So I appreciate the opportunity to do my part to help out.”
IF YOU GO
Mary Scholz will perform during a live webcast with The Pixel Project at 11 a.m. on June 6. For information or to view the webcast, visit www.MaryScholz.com/wp/tour
She will also be performing at 8 p.m. at the Tin Angel, 20 South 2nd St., Philadelphia
Tickets: $12. For more information, check www.tinangel.com or call (215) 928-0770.