Maz O’Connor grew up in the wild Lake District of the Romantic Poets, studied literature at Cambridge and is now settled in East London. Her roots are in Ireland, and all of these diverse influences work together to make her songwriting something unique. Her exceptional voice provides the perfect vehicle for her powerful songs.
Maz spent her teenage years singing in folk clubs, and in 2014 was the recipient of a BBC Performing Arts Fund Fellowship (Adele was a previous recipient) which paired her as an emerging artist in residence with The English Folk Dance and Song Society. During this year she wrote, recorded and released her album ‘This Willowed Light’, which earned her a nomination for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Horizon Award and appearances at high profile festivals such as Cambridge Folk Festival, WOMAD and Glastonbury. The Guardian called it ‘folk album of the year thus far’.
Maz began to explore her own songwriting further, addressing themes of Millennial angst in her second album ‘The Longing Kind’, about which Songlines wrote: ‘There is an inquiring intelligence as well as an emotional sensibility at work here…she plays and sings beautifully *****’. She toured the U.K. and Europe, including opening for such artists as David Gray, Thomas Dybdahl and Rosanne Cash.
An EP of cover songs ‘The Undercover EP’ followed, a collection of some of her favourite songs by other artists, from Bob Dylan to Louis Armstrong, via Greenday. Accompanying shows included appearances at Henley Festival and How the Light Gets In, and a packed London’s Kings Place.
Alongside her own performances, Maz is also busy as a songwriter for special projects, commissions and theatre. She has been commissioned to write songs for UK Parliament and The Royal Shakespeare Company, and is now working on her own piece of music theatre.
Her background in folk continues to inform her storytelling and feminist themes are a constant in her work: from the song ‘Derby Day’, which she was commissioned to write about Emily Wilding Davison and the feminist re-telling of the creation myth ‘Mississippi Woman’ (both on her first album ‘This Willowed Light’), to the songs giving voice to women in portraits who have been silenced as muses (on her second album ‘The Longing Kind’).
She considers new album ‘Chosen Daughter’ – a collection of darker, story songs – a bigger, more concentrated feminist statement. The album was inspired by the stories of her female ancestors, grandmother-mother-daughter relationships, and ideas around female inheritance. It is not protest music, but a very personal album which explores, and celebrates, the feminine.