Mary Ellen Wessels

"Big voice, big heart - Mary Ellen Wessels is a pleasure to hear." -- Fred Small

With a voice that soars even higher than her six foot stature, Mary Ellen reaches out and spellbinds her listeners with the passion, spirit and genuine emotion she pours into her music. Interpreting songs from a wide variety of songwriters, her voice is rich and true and always comes from her inner self, whether she is singing of love or banana slugs.

The raw talent and emotion is refined by years of professional study and training and tempered by an eclectic series of venues including: the World Science Fiction Convention, frozen finger picking at an anti-draft rally, and playing for 200 Girl Scouts under a picnic shelter during a tornado! Mary Ellen was born in 1963 in Detroit, grew up in Michigan and got her "Mew" nickname as a Girl Scout Counselor. She grew up with music all around her, her mom sings and plays piano, her sister played cello and first taught her to sing harmonies, and, although he claimed he was tone deaf, her father whistled a snazzy medley and played sousaphone in college! Among her earliest musical influences were her mother's Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul and Mary albums, and her brother's collection of Frank Zappa. This probably explains her warped eclecticism. A list of her musical tastes and interests would double the length of this bio. Let's just say she's VERY eclectic. Some favorites are: Joni Mitchell, Stan Rogers, the Indigo Girls, Pentangle, Fairport Convention, The Bobs, Pete Seeger, Christine Lavin, Claudia Schmidt, The Beatles, CSN&Y, Sarah Vaughan, Duke Ellington, Emma Kirkby, Sheila Chandra, Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin. And lots and lots more!

She discovered early music while studying with Lyle Nordstrom as a music major at Oakland University in 1981. Thirteen years later she received a degree (cum laude) in Children's Literature and Drama Theater for the Young. She has performed in a wide variety of choral groups, and consorts from early music to a filk/folk-rock group . Currently she is performing with her partner, Ed Stauff.

She is a guitarist, plays recorders, mountain dulcimer, bodhran, doumbek and several other instruments. But her best and most unforgettable instrument is voice.

Mew is credited with back up vocals and arranging on numerous small press tapes. She has also sung for an egg commercial and a pizza commercial (though she tries to deny it). She is well known for creating harmonies that adorn both the song and the singer, so much so that her growing talent as a lead artist was often overlooked until she recently released a solo CD/tape "Current Obsessions".

Far more than a performer, Mew has given to the folk world as a volunteer at the Ark Coffeehouse in Ann Arbor,MI, Simple Gifts Coffeehouse in Nashua, NH, and through a series of workshops including "No More Stage Fright " and "Everyone Can Sing" which are an exploration in self-discovery and enlightenment. For her workshops she draws upon her theater experience and children's theater classes. (Most of her work in theater was in tech, but perhaps her most memorable performance was a unique rendition of a 1940's women's etiquette book - method acting the part of a corpse for a poetry event.)

It is Mew's gift to bring not only the best of herself and use songs to express the whole range of human experience, but to encourage others to do the same - to liberate the creativity that is within each of us.

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