strong>Hi Marcia, thanks so much for chatting to Forte Mag. We’re excited to have you bring your one-woman show House of Song to regional towns. Can you tell us a bit about the show?
The show is the story of my life through song and it includes images, video and storytelling.
In a performance that recounts your past 30 years as a singer/songwriter, how did you go about selecting the songs that would be included in this 90-minute show? Are these completely new songs or a mixture of both?
One of the songs included is the first song I wrote as a 14-year-old girl. There are songs I recorded with Goanna in the show and songs that I have written throughout the story of my life. Some of my songs are from my solo albums, recorded in Ireland, Nashville and my home studio. There are new songs as well as sing along songs. I really believe everybody can sing and encourage people to sing along during the show and become a part of my house of song.
You’ll be performing without your band for this show. How do the performances compare when you’re up there by yourself to when you’re accompanied by your band? Why did you decide to take this on as a solo show?
My last album, Everything Reminds Me, was a band album and so I have been performing those songs with my band, Issac Barter, Lee Morgan and Justin Olsson. In my House of Song show, I am performing with my son, Liam Gubbins on bass guitar and vocals and Matiss Schubert on fiddle and mandolin. Liam performed in my band at this year’s Port Fairy and Blue Mountains Festivals. It is the story of my life through song and it includes images, video and storytelling. It is wonderful to be performing with my son. He is a great musician and songwriter in his own right, He has just released a single called ‘Getting Over’ as Gub. These will be the last couple of shows he will perform with me before heading to America to live.
You’ve sustained a very diverse career over the years – as a singer, musician, songwriter, recording artist, a contestant on The Voice and music educator and vocal director in the fields of live performance, studio recording, music business administration, and education. Is there anything else on the bucket list that you may want to explore in the creative realm?
I have been teaching singing, classroom music and now music at university level part time for many years alongside writing and performing. This worked for me over the years when I was raising my two children and caring for my parents. I have created ‘House of Song Geelong’ this year and I run professional development sessions for singers every fourth Thursday of the month. I have loved welcoming people into my space and singing with them and teaching them songs. The focus of the last session was Aboriginal language songs with Aboriginal facilitator in the arts education space here in Geelong, Kylie Clarke. Each workshop has a different focus each month. Sometimes its harmony or the use of the voice. Our next sessions features Yoga and singing so watch this space!
Your time with Goanna was during the coming of age of Australian rock music in the early 1980’s. What are your views on the Australian rock music and the ability to be a touring musician now, compared to that time?
So much has changed and for the better particularly for female musicians. It has always been a very male dominated industry. There were not many women performing on the circuit when I started. I was the youngest band member in Goanna when I joined in 1980. Over the years so many live gigs have been replaced in the pubs by gaming machines. As a consequence, sadly that has affected many musician’s livelihood. On a positive note though these days you don’t have to be signed to a major label to get your music out to the world. The digital revolution has enabled songwriters and composers to record our music at home in our studios and has enabled people from all socio-economic backgrounds and corners of the globe the chance for their music to be heard.
It’s noted that a great influence on your music is your Irish roots; what is it about the Celtic heritage that you love most? Are there any Irish artists that you draw influence from specifically?
I guess its part of my DNA. My Irish ancestors arrived into Geelong and Portland in the second wave of the Great Irish famine of 1854. In 2002, out of the blue the wonderful Irish singer Mary Black invited me to open for her at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin over five nights. She had heard my first solo album, Butterfly. That was a life changing experience for me. I don’t think my ancestors who left Ireland could ever have imagined their great granddaughter would be back there performing so many years later. Mary asked me back again that year to record my song ‘Poison Tree’ with her for the second, A Woman’s Heart, album. I am so grateful to Mary Black for her support and the chance to work with her and to sing in the land of my ancestors.
My connection to Country began with my relationship with Aboriginal people I met in the Goanna years, their connection and respect for Country informed my relationship to place and taught me many things. I guess that was the learning I took back to Ireland. It is such a soft landscape. I lit gum leaves in ancestral places I visited. It rains a lot in Ireland, so the gum leaves were burning in the rain! That became the title of my second solo album that I recorded in Ireland with Irish musicians and produced by the legendary Australian musician living in Ireland for many years, Steve Cooney.
You’ve shared the stage with some of the worlds most loved musicians, including America’s James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Billy Connelly, and Eric Clapton. What’s one experience that stands out for you?
James Taylor was the first American musician I had ever met or worked with as a member of the Goanna band on his ‘Fire and Rain’ tour across Australia in 1981. We were the support band on this tour. He and his band were great people and brilliant musicians to work with. I had bought his ‘Gorilla’ album when I was 15 years old at school, working part time in a Record Bar in Warrnambool. I never thought I would get to meet him four years later and share the same stage! A lovely man and great songwriter and talent. Goanna was signed to Warner Brothers after this tour.
Thanks for your time! To finish up, what can people expect from your upcoming performance?
I hope people are moved and uplifted and come away feeling good having sung along and experienced a reflection of their own lives perhaps through my story and songs. I grew up in a house of song with a musical mother and musical family. Harmony was the way I discovered the sound of my own voice amongst the sound of so many other voices! The song I wrote House of Song explains for me that sense of family I hope to create in the show: “We build a harmony, feels like family, I’m at home here in this house of song”.
When & Where: Gosling Creek Winery, Murroon – June 15 & The F Project Gallery, Warrnambool – June 22. Tickets here.