Born and raised in Northern Ireland, Mary Mc Laughlin began studying the Irish language (Gaelic) at the age of eleven in the Donegal Gaeltacht (Irish- speaking area.) Upon moving to London, England, at the age of eighteen, she pursued joint careers, as both a performer and teacher.
In 1991 she met, and began to work with Jon Jacobs, a recording engineer / producer who had been trained by George Martin. This collaboration yielded Mary’s first solo album Daughter of Lir, produced by Jacobs. Most of the material was self penned and reflected her Irish roots. The USA release of Daughter of Lir was on Gourd Music in 1999 when the album was re-mastered and included three new tracks.
“Her solo release Daughter of Lir is a true masterpiece of Celtic textures and velvety multi-tracked vocals.”
(Michele Benson, Good Times Newspaper 2000, Santa Cruz, CA.)
“Rarely does a CD or artist combine such craft, skill and beauty.”
(Lahri Bond, Dirty Linen, review of Daughter of Lir, July 2000)
In 1995 three songs from Daughter of Lir opened the acclaimed Narada Celtic Voices album which reached #3 on the Billboard World Music Charts. Mary subsequently appeared as a guest on other Narada recordings.
Mary moved to the USA in 1997 and recorded Celtic Requiem, which was released in 1998 on the Windham Hill label. The album was a collection of Irish Gaelic traditional, Latin and original songs all dealing with healing after bereavement. Tracks from this album have been featured on many Sony BMG compilations including Conversations With God 2 and placed Mary firmly in the “Celtic New-Age” bracket.
In 2000, she sang the song “Flower On The Sea” composed by Michael Whalen, on the soundtrack of a PBS special, Lost Liners.
Her book Singing in Irish Gaelic was published in 2002 by Mel Bay Publishing. This book / cd set is geared towards non-Gaelic speakers and has a phonetic / aural approach which has helped many access elusive Irish songs without having to learn the language!
In 2004 there was another release on Gourd Music; Crystal Shoe
featured mostly original songs which focused on the magical and mythical traditions of Ireland and Europe. Two traditional Gaelic songs were also included.
“This is a breathtaking work, a haunting voice surrounded by a dense weave of brilliant musicians. It floats by so easily, it's hard to take it off the player.”
(Brad Kava, San Jose Mercury News, Crystal Shoe, Dec. 2004 - voted one of his top ten for 2004)
Mary is a renowned vocal teacher specializing in Irish singing and has worked throughout the USA and the UK. In 2006 she realized her dream of forming her own Gaelic choir in Santa Cruz California. She trained the choir using her phonetic/aural approach and sold out two concerts of “A Gaelic Christmas,” a combination of solo and choral performances, singing Mary’s choral arrangements of Gaelic Christmas carols. The choir is called “Cór Ainglí” (Angelic Choir) and continues to expand and develop and is working towards the 2007 Christmas performances.
Fueled by this success she brought the “Cór Ainglí” idea to St. Louis Missouri where she is working with choir director Dennis Wells to launch the St. Louis “Cór Ainglí” to also perform “A Gaelic Christmas” in December 2007.
Her latest album entitled A Gaelic Christmas showcases these original arrangements, performed by Mary in her preferred multi-track style, along with powerful support from harp, cellos and other acoustic instruments.
The arrangements reflect her love of the studio as a tool. Having a wide vocal range Mary has, from her first album, always sung all the parts in her work and painted a soundscape by using the available technology to blend instruments and layers of vocal sound – throughout her career she has continued to refine and develop this technique.
She has four solo albums, an instructional book / cd set and appears on numerous Celtic compilation albums.
Mary currently performs as part of the California based Celtic Americana band Camogie, as well as working with harper Steve Coulter to present a program of song and story both in Irish and English.
Musicians she has worked with over the years include: Robin Bullock, Danny Carnahan, William Coulter, Steve Coulter, Todd Denman, Robin Flower, Steafan Hanigan, Neal Hellman, Anne Lister, Libby Mc Laren, Barry Phillips, Shelley Phillips, Robin Petrie, Martin Simpson and Radim Zenkl.