Amidst a world-wide pandemic and turmoil brought on by racial injustice and a troubled America, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter-musician MARY SCHOLZ will release her song “Lady Liberty” on October 8 via the label KZZ, with a video to follow in the coming weeks. It marks the first single in her partnership with Blue Élan records co-founder, Kirk Pasich, and the affiliated music production company, KZZ.
Inspired to write “Lady Liberty” from the perspective of one of the most iconic American images, the Statue of Liberty, SCHOLZ says the ballad reflects “the broader aches of our modern world, including the human rights transgressions that are the American inheritance.” Her compelling vocals soar in a beautiful and spacious folk setting.
“I was at home, in Los Angeles--my lyric journal tells me it was June 23, 2020,” MARY says of the inception of the song. “I couldn’t get the images of protests out of my head, the pictures of children in cages on the boarder, the feeling of being in the crowd holding signs and calling out for equality, equity, and justice, remembering where I was when marriage equality passed…and I started thinking about Lady Liberty, holding her hand up to light the way for immigrants and people from all places. I recalled a fragment of the message, but I wanted to know exactly what was inscribed there at the statue, what exactly she was meant to represent…and I was so moved by the words, I picked up my guitar, started playing, and began singing them.
“I was so inspired,” continues MARY, “by Emma Lazarus’ words, her own ideas of what Lady Liberty might say, that I began a continuation of them, beginning with ‘Give them rest, and give them more.’ Each verse ends with a version of that statement, recognition that each of these groups of people have been fighting for a long time, and almost like a prayer, calling for reprieve and relief, before they pick up the fight for another day. I was needing to write a piece of this nature, on these topics, and part of me was held back by ‘who am I to say all of these things?’
She elaborates: “At first, writing from her [the statue’s] point of view gave me permission, and a platform from which to explore a greater overview of the people that live on this land. The original poem expressed what I so deeply wish that I could do--gather people into my arms and promise them a better future. And as I went on, I recognized that we are, each of us, extensions of this iconic image--she holds the lamp, she stands as a beacon of hope, but WE are the hope, we are the action that makes those things a reality. We are the ones to welcome and make a place for those seeking a better life, we are the ones standing up and speaking out, voting, creating legislation. That is part of the privilege and responsibility of living in the United States.”
To record “Lady Liberty,” SCHOLZ began the process in her “backyard, masked and in a far-away rehearsal with Ed Maxwell, who has played upright bass on my music for the past few years (and on my last record),” after which she recorded a guide guitar and vocal track at home. From there, she explains, “What you’re hearing is as true a representation of the times as the lyrics are--a quarantined production. Each musician recorded in their individual home studios, beginning with my guide guitar and vocal tracks. Some home studios were already up and running, pre-Covid, and some were results of making it work during this pandemic. Before we mixed, I re-recorded my guitar and lead vocal at ElectroSound Studios, where they have a great Covid-Safe setup. The song was also mixed there, by Jason Hiller, and mastered overseas by Lazerus--Voice of the Silence.”
On “Lady Liberty,” SCHOLZ plays acoustic guitar, sings lead and some background vocals; she’s joined by Matt Musty (Train, Grace Potter) on drums and percussion, Zachary Ross (Heather Anne Lomax, Janiva Magness) who co-produced the track and plays electric guitar, Chris Joyner (Jason Mraz, Heart) on organ, Ed Maxwell (Shelby Lynne, Meiko) on upright bass, Malynda Hale and Sarah Ault (front women themselves) on vocals. It was mixed by Jason Hiller (Maesa, Kyle McNeil), and mastered by Lazerus--Voice of the Silence (Donald Fagen, Stevie Wonder).
“It was a lot trickier, approaching recording in fully virtual setups, on a brand-new song that had never been performed, and felt so weighted,” MARY says. “It definitely was an exercise in creative communication, for me. Each individual musician recorded at home, so it was a lengthier process than normal. We started with my guide guitar/vocal track, and sent it off for drums, from the wonderful Matt Musty. Once they were worked out and in place (three separate drum tracks, two kits and additional cymbals and percussion), it was off to Ed Maxwell for his upright bass magic. Chris Joyner gave us the tone of sacred mission in his organ part, Zachary Ross, my coproducer on this song, brought a beautiful counterpart to my vocal, on his electric guitar. I had written a preliminary vocal arrangement that went out to Malynda Hale and Sarah Ault, and with some virtual collaboration--the three of us make up the choral landscape you hear. The only thing not recorded in a home studio, was my final guitar and vocal track, which we did at ElectroSound Studio’s Covid-Safe space. Jason Hiller also mixed the song there, with Lazerus--Voice of the Silence mastering in Norway. Every person involved really brought their heart and soul along with their talent, and I am so moved to hear their voices raising with mine, and so grateful for their artistic input.”
“Lady Liberty” follows the release of MARY’s last single "The Mother Song: Wild Womxn.” That track saw SCHOLZ push her boundaries even further, telling a profound story of womanhood that is at once personal and utterly universal.