For a while, it appeared that Marie-Lynn Hammond had disappeared from the music
scene. Indeed, she had happily retired from the quaint Canadian habit of driving
to gigs through weather that would have stopped the Russian army when her music
was discovered by a Los Angeles-area folk fan, Richard Hess.
In 1999 he founded Vignettes Media to release Marie-Lynn’s out-of-print
album Vignettes. Since then, Vignettes Media has gone on to re-release all five
of Marie-Lynn’s solo albums on three CDs, and Marie-Lynn has put the snow
tires back on her car. A new CD, Pegasus, is planned for Fall 2002.
In 2001, Marie-Lynn celebrated her 30th year in music. In 1971, she and Bob
Bossin founded the seminal (and irreverent!) Canadian folk group, Stringband.
From Tuktoyaktuk to Thunder Bay and from Salmon Arm to Lunenberg, Stringband
criss-crossed Canada, with adventuresome forays into Japan, Mexico, France,
Great Britain, the former Soviet Union, and the United States. This anniversary
was marked by two Stringband reunion shows on Stuart McLean’s CBC radio
show, The Vinyl Café.
In 1978, Marie-Lynn embarked on a parallel solo career, including appearances
at every major folk festival in Canada. In the early ’80s her songs about
her family grew into a play, Beautiful Deeds/De beaux gestes, that has received
several productions and critical acclaim. She has written or co-written four
more plays and a screenplay (all produced), and has hosted two national radio
shows for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Half English, three-eighths French, and one-eighth Aboriginal (Abenaki), Marie-Lynn
embodies the amalgam that is Canada, and she writes and sounds like no one else.
As a songwriter, her range, in both official languages, is astonishing; her
art touches your heart, your mind, and your funnybone. From the anthem-like
“La tête anglaise, le coeur français” and “Elsie,”
a poignant ballad about her grandmother, to the satirical wit of “Not
Another Benefit” or “Leave Room for the Holy Ghost,” she isn’t
afraid to be personal–or provocative. Her body of work–the songs,
the plays, and more than fifty articles and radio essays–all provide fascinating
vignettes of Canadian life as seen through her sharp yet compassionate eyes.
These days, Marie-Lynn Hammond earns her living primarily as a writer and editor
in Toronto, Canada, where she lives with her snow shovel and way too many cats.