Mary Alouette has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi about her, and just might be New York City’s best-kept swag songstress secret.
Alouette’s latest musical incarnation, ‘the Lark’, blends sounds of traditional gypsy jazz with electronic beats and was released in July 2013.
Alouette won Washington Area Music Association’s 2013 P.A.S.S. Songwriting Competition’s Grand Prize for her song Lionheart, as well as WAMA’s New Artist of the Year 2012 and Debut Recording 2012 (Midas). Her song, O, Be I Your Bluebird, placed as a finalist in the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Competition.
She released her debut EP, Midas, in April 2012.
She shows serious vocal and musical talent, as her voice bears both tone and control earned through opera training and the emotional connection of a jazz and soul singer. Also a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Mary has laid the groundwork for a fresh, distinctive, and unforgettable sound.
Her songs, full of infectious melodies and dangerous rhythms, blend floating, jazzy vocals with poignant lyrics. Manipulation of electronic beats, synth pads, acoustic bass lines, and glitchy textures shapes a modern orchestration under the gypsy jazz guitar’s hot rhythms and haunting acoustic licks.
Born Mary Kavalauskas, she adopted the name Mary Alouette in part as a pseudonym so she could sing without a visa in international jazz clubs, but moreso as an homage to her favorite singers, namely Maria Callas, Billie Holiday, and Nina Simone, who also performed under stage names. Other influences include Kate Bush, the jazzy hip-hop grooves of Hiatus Kaiyote, the raw, emotional beats of Burial, and the cool of Berlin’s Modeselektor.
Currently, her band is one of New York City’s most original acts, with a compelling musical experience that places her in a spot all her own. She performs in music clubs in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and in Brooklyn, while songwriting by day in her Williamsburg, Brooklyn loft.
Her gypsy jazz performances have warmly welcomed sold-out crowds in venues throughout the Washington-Baltimore area, and seasoned NYC gypsy jazz players call her to lay down vocals for their latest albums.
Alouette has worked as an assistant audio engineer and producer at ishlab, a music studio in Brooklyn. She started the position in an effort to brave her naïveté when it came to music production and to further explore her love for electronic music. After practicing mixing and recording techniques, she was quickly offered the opportunity to work independently on projects and assist in sessions with platinum and major label artists.
In 2011-2012, Alouette held an Artist-in-Residence position at Strathmore Center for the Performing Arts in Maryland, among a select handful of rising young musical artists. This provided her the opportunity to work with national and international musicians, as well as industry professionals. She recently concluded her residency with performances on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage and at Strathmore Hall.
The blazing tempos and exotic melodies of Django Reinhardt’s 1930’s gypsy jazz lure Mary, especially after working on a vineyard in the South of France and growing up singing from the American songbook. She has lit up festivals along the East Coast with various gypsy jazz ensembles in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Montreal, Canada.
Performance has always been a part of Mary’s personal expression, nurtured by her childhood in musical theatre, choral performances of Mahler and Beethoven at Carnegie Hall, and singing the National Anthem for the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals. The decision to pursue opera at McGill University in Montreal, then and in Austria and the Italian Alps, began as a motivation to build her voice. She also soon immersed herself in Montreal’s diverse, lively, electronic and world music scenes and worked with digital composers while at McGill. Mary also taken to street art, bombning stencils as a visual representation of her music. An authentic vision has materialized and it’s made a strong impression.