Biography

(Note: For short bios, please see: Press Kit – EPK page)

Juno-nominated songwriter Maria Dunn (vocal, guitar, accordion) draws deeply on the folk tradition of storytelling through song. A true preserver of the spirit of folk music, she is often compared to Woody Guthrie for her keen social awareness and her unvarnished songs about the lives of working men and women.

Melding North American roots music with her Scottish-Irish heritage, Maria celebrates the resilience and grace of “ordinary” people, past and present, as on her new concept recording Piece By Piece (2012), inspired by women working at a Canadian clothing factory. Maria has released four other CDs of her songs, including: The Peddler (Nominee – 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award), We Were Good People (2004), For A Song (Nominee – 2002 Juno Award) and From Where I Stand (1998), all produced by Shannon Johnson (of 2007 Juno-winning band The McDades for their CD Bloom).

2008′s The Peddler consists of songs that Maria wrote with a distinct Celtic influence (allowing her to indulge in a bit more accordion playing than usual). To do justice to the songs and give them the appropriate music arrangements, Maria involved Shannon Johnson’s highly accomplished band The McDades as musicians and collaborators on the song arrangements.

Maria’s 2004 project, We Were Good People, was her first concept recording to explore the stories of working people in Western Canada: tales of resilience and hope through experiences of immigration, internment, exploitation and The Depression. The stories on her second CD, For a Song (2001), range from The Lingan Strike, a rousing tale from Cape Breton’s labour history, to Take it Easy on Me, a gentle anthem for contemporary society.

Maria’s critically acclaimed debut release, From Where I Stand (1998), also finds a beautiful balance between the past and present. Its musical settings range from the Scottish inspired melody of Shoes of A Man, a song about her grandfather’s life in Glasgow, to the upbeat bluegrass feel of Distant Whisper, a travelling love ballad.

Highlights

Awards:

  • 2013 Canadian Folk Music Awards nominee – Solo Artist of the Year (Piece By Piece)
  • 2009 Canadian Folk Music Awards nominee – Solo Artist of the Year (The Peddler)
  • 2009 USA Songwriting Competition Honourable Mention (The Peddler)
  • 2002 JUNO nominee – Roots/Traditional Solo (For A Song)
  • 1999 Prairie Music nominee – Outstanding Songwriter (From Where I Stand)

Canadian Folk Festivals

  • Main Stage: Edmonton (AB); Summerfolk (ON); Lunenberg (NS); Mission (BC); Stanfest (NS); Frostbite (YK); Canmore (AB)
  • Side Stages: Vancouver, Comox, Powell River (BC); Calgary, Edmonton (AB); Winnipeg (MB); Mariposa, Ottawa (ON)

International Festivals:

  • 2008 Celtic Connections, Glasgow, Scotland
  • 2006 Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, Washington, DC

TV Features & Performances:

The Carol Project (Bravo TV, Canada); Huron Carole 2002, Jubilee Auditorium, Calgary (CMT); Voice of America (Washington, DC); Mac-TV (Scotland); Alberta Primetime (CTVtwo, Alberta)

Radio Features & Performances:

CBC Sunday Edition w/ Michael Enright (Canada); CBC This Morning w/Shelagh Rogers (Canada); BBC Scotland Travelling Folk w/Archie Fisher (Scotland); Folkscene w/ Roz Larman (Los Angeles, CA); Bound For Glory w/ Phil Shapiro (Ithaca, NY); KVMR w/ Larry Hillberg (Nevada City, CA); CBC RadioActive w/ Peter Brown (Edmonton); CBC Key of A (AB); CBC Daybreak Alberta w/ Carolyn Smith (AB); CKUA The Celtic Show w/ Andy Donnelly (AB); CJRT Absolutely Folk w/ Cate Friesen (Toronto); CiTR The Saturday Edge w/ Steve Edge (Vancouver); CKCU Canadian Spaces w/ Chopper MacKinnon (Ottawa); CKUT Folk Roots and Branches w/ Mike Regenstreif (Montreal); CBC Basic Black (Canada); CBC Definitely Not the Opera (Canada)

Recent Touring Highlights:

  • Summer 2013 Festivals: Summerfolk, ON (Mainstage); Vancouver, BC
  • September 2012, CD Release: Piece By Piece
  • Project 2012 Alberta Tour: Troublemakers and GWG: Piece By Piece multimedia shows (May-Jun 2012)
  • Netherlands Tour – Double Bill with The McDades (Nov 2011)
  • Double Bill Tour with John Wort Hannam , Ontario, Illinois (Apr-May 2011)
  • Christmas Carol Project Tour – Calgary, Vancouver, Whistler (Dec 2010)
  • Netherlands Tour (Feb 2010)
  • Alberta House Plaza, Vancouver 2010, Olympics (Feb 2010)

Other Information

  • Performs her original material solo (vocal, guitar, accordion) or in a duo setting with Shannon Johnson, Fiona Coll, Lizzy Hoyt, or Daniel Gervais (fiddle, vocals); other musical guests include: Dawn Cross (vocals), Andy Illig (guitar), Jeremiah McDade (whistles, sax, guitar); Maria Dunn also performs as a side musician (accordion, whistles) with Laura Vinson’s band Free Spirit.
  • Maria has performed on stage with Bill Bourne, The McDades, John Wort Hannam, Craig Korth (Jerusalem Ridge), Kim Beggs, Terry Morrison, Eileen Laverty, Ron Hynes, Tim Readman and others.
  • Maria’s songs have been recorded by: Niamh Parsons (The Peddler), Bob Bossin (We Were Good People), Aengus Finnan (Orphan Hand), The Outside Track (Poor Lonesome Hen), Two Tap Trio (Whiskey Evening) and others.
  • Other Projects: GWG: Piece by Piece multimedia show; Troublemakers, Working Albertans, 1900 – 1950 multimedia show; 2008 Pacific Northwest Labour History Conference; 2001 Artist-in-Residence, Edmonton Labour Council
  • Song Commissions: CBC Radio “Canada Reads” (2007); Public Interest Alberta (2009); Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers (2006); Edmonton Trades & Labour Council 100th Anniversary (2006); Alberta Federation of Labour 100th Anniversary (2012)