By Greg Tutwiler
Christine Lavin called Mara Levine, “one of the best singers of her generation,” and David Amram called the international touring artist and jewelry designer a “Golden Voice.” Mara considers herself to be a song interpreter, and is considered by many to be an exceptional song-finder. Rather than penning original songs, Mara picks songs that she loves, but invisions them sounding a bit different than their original form. She then creates beautiful new interpretations of those songs.
As a child in the 60’s, Mara said her parents often listened to folk and classical music.. “In particular, we listened to a radio show every Sunday afternoon called Woody’s Children. My father taped this program every week, so we had a whole catalog of that music to listen to, and re-listen to. The music you listen to as a child, I think, somehow imprints itself on your psyche.” In her early 20’s she joined a Barber Shop troupe where she learned harmony, but she says, “I was always drawn to, and always felt compelled to sing folk music.”
Although Mara has predominately been a folk musician, her work and exposure as a volunteer at the IBMA week in Raleigh has inspired her to soon embark on a new project featuring bluegrass styling in her song interpretations. In 2013, on her previous CD, Jewels And Harmony, Mara featured a bluegrass track including the musicians from the band, Jeff Scroggins and Colorado.
Her latest CD, Facets Of Folk, features a number of folk styled songs of social conscience with themes of taking a stand, making a difference, and considering the treatment of others. However the opening track, “You Reap What You Sow,” written by Susan Shann, featured bluegrass artists Greg Blake, Bob Harris, Rob Ickes, Andy Leftwich, Mollie O’Brien, Mark Schatz and Scott Vestal. That song hit #1 on the Folk DJ chart, and spent 22 weeks on Bluegrass Today’s Grassicana chart.