Although country music fans will recognize Rebecca Lynn Howard her frequent Grand Ole Opry appearances and from her smash radio single "Forgive", she hopes to gain attention from a whole new music project called Loving Mary.
Nashville-based group Loving Mary began as a fun, organic departure from the pop/rock world for noted producer Marti Frederiksen, Canadian pop star Suzie McNeil, and for some back-to-band fun for country artist and Grammy winner Rebecca Lynn Howard and songwriter/producer Elisha Hoffman.
Featuring the four lead vocalists and gorgeous four-part harmonies, Loving Mary has an album’s worth of materia...l written and an EP recorded, including such songs as the haunting “Knock Knock,” the stompin’ “Get Your Love On Me” and sweet sentiment “We Got Love.”
Suzie, known to international audiences as the last girl standing on Mark Burnett’s Rock Star: INXS TV series, is a successful singer in Canada with four albums and 13 national top 20 hits. Marti, the voice behind Almost Famous band Stillwater, has written and produced for such heavyweights as Aerosmith, Carrie Underwood and Faith Hill.
When Marti moved from Los Angeles to Nashville, Suzie would go there to write and really enjoyed the scene. “We started writing a bunch of songs for a duo project in the vein of Lady Antebellum,” says Suzie, “but then one day we thought, ‘The world needs a Fleetwood Mac again,’ so let’s do a band — two guys, two girls.”
As fate would have it, Suzie had an outside writing session scheduled, and the writer brought along a third collaborator — Kentucky transplant Rebecca. “When I met Suzie, the first thing I noticed was her fiery red hair and her tattoos and I was like, ‘We're gonna get along just fine,’” recalls Rebecca. “We started writing and the musical chemistry was electric, like we'd known each other for years. I love how our voices blend together like we're family.“
After the writing session Suzie went back to Marti and said, ‘You know who would be amazing for this…?’”
Rebecca is a country-pop artist and two-time Grammy Award winner, whose compositions have been recorded by such singers as Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Julianne Hough, John Michael Montgomery and Clay Aiken. Recently, she started producing other artists, such as Australia’s Dianna Corcoran — whose singles have hit No. 1 — which she did with her husband, Eilsha.
“It just made all the sense in the world to do something like this,” says Rebecca. “In addition to writing, the four of us would get together and jam and goof off playing some of our favorite cover songs, until it really just became so obvious that we should do this for real. I'm having the time of my life.”
So is Elisha. “For me, the combination of these people who are my friends make it a real family band, which is fun,” he says. “I don’t write songs like this on a daily basis, so they feel really fresh to me.”
Elisha, a.k.a. Big E, has been a part of the Nashville music scene for 15 years, first as a drummer and session player and then as a producer and songwriter. He has written and/or produced songs with a slew of major label artists, including Faith Hill, New Medicine and The Academy Is. He is currently producing Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top.
And so Loving Mary was born.
“What a breath of fresh air to be in a band that doesn’t sound like anything that’s going on right now in music,” says Frederiksen. “It’s exciting to be able to take all your influences from your musical past, like The Who and Tom Petty, into an acoustic sound.”
“It’s not easy to write with four people in a room,” says McNeil. “That’s a lot of opinions, but everything we’ve done has come really naturally.”
Loving Mary’s originals dip and dive between feel-good songs about love and material with more swampy edge. Each song features a different lead vocalist, but they all provide lush harmonies and all play instruments. Rebecca is on bass; Marti is on guitar, Elisha is playing everything from mandolin to banjo; and Suzie plays harmonica, tambourine and guitar.
“We were all just craving a real band with real live instruments and a real vibe,” says the band.