Meghan Cary, an Erdenheim resident, has acted in more than 100 plays, and her music won her Billboard magazine’s “Critic’s Choice for Best Newcomer,” as well as numerous other accolades.

by Len Lear

Four female-fronted bands are coming together to play a Benefit for Mothers in Charge, a violence prevention organization which helps families and communities affected by violence, at The Mermaid Inn, 7673 Germantown Ave., on Friday April 26, 8 p.m. to midnight.

The lineup is as follows: 8 p.m. to 8:45 p.m., Paula and the Mooncats with Marsha Low; 9 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., Sarah & the Arrows; 10:15 p.m. to 11 p.m., Stevie and the Bluescasters with Carol Moog sitting in; and 11:15 p.m. to midnight, Meghan Cary with Peter Farrell (keys, mandolin and vocals) and Stacy Weathers (banjo). Admission is $15, which goes directly to Mothers In Charge.

In case you have never seen Erdenheim resident Meghan Cary perform, you are in for a treat. After the tragic, unexpected death of her husband-to-be in the spring of 1995, Cary taught herself to play on her late fiancé’s acoustic guitar and has made several albums, including “Sing Louder,” which was recorded with an acoustic trio at Morningstar Studio in Ambler in July of 2015. (Cary’s mantra in life is: “If you don’t know the words, sing louder.”)

Cary was described by one critic as having “the passionate voice of Melissa Etheridge singing the songs of Bruce Springsteen to a Paul Simon groove.” In 1998, Billboard magazine named Cary, a working mother of two, as its esteemed “Critic’s Choice for Best Newcomer” for her first album, “New Shoes.” The Billboard reviewer wrote, “Can the world stand one more sensitive, storytelling troubadour? If the artist in question is Meghan Cary, the answer is a resounding yes!”

Up until then, Cary was a theater actress with over 100 credits for her work in the U.S. and Europe, and she had a successful voiceover career.

When asked her age last week, Cary said, “Actually, I feel about 28 most of the time. How else could I rock the stage into the wee hours and still get up to take the kids to their baseball games and piano lessons in the morning?”

Cary, who grew up in Hershey, released her latest record, “Sing Louder,” in November of 2017, and it debuted at #6 on the US/International Folk DJ Radio Chart, with the title track charting at #2, and the follow-up single “Responsibility” took the #6 spot, making Cary the only U.S. artist to have two songs in the Top 10 that month. It’s also being played on mainstream radio in more than 40 markets throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Sarah & the Arrows is a popular folk quartet consisting of Sarah Napolitan on guitar, Rosie McNamara Jones on violin, Stacy Weathers on banjo and Lee Vuotto on bass.

“My favorite thing about ‘Sing Louder,’” she said, “is that 48 fans and friends joined me in the studio to sing on the title track and ‘Responsibility.’ Most had never been in a studio before, but they donned headphones, stepped up to the microphones and sang their hearts out.”

Cary also recorded a demo of songs from a musical she’s writing for Broadway, “The Accidental Caterer.” She is working on the show with a creative team from New York City. Cary also just released her first book, “Sing Louder: the Stories Behind the Songs,” on March 8 of this year (International Women’s Day).

In the past two years, Cary has performed at numerous local venues, such as World Cafe Live, Mermaid Inn, Dawson’s Pub, Bourbon and Branch, Burlap and Bean, PFS (Philadelphia Folksong Society), Forest and Main and several different house concerts, “anywhere we can gather everyone for an evening of high energy music, stories of love, loss and finding joy and raising our voices together.”

She has also played on live radio shows, countless music festivals and clubs in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh and other venues in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states.

What was Cary’s favorite gig of all time?

“I love them all, but this very moment, my favorite was earlier this month at Musical Lairs House Concerts. I love a house concert, hands down my favorite way to perform or listen to live music. They’re so intimate and give me the opportunity to connect on an even more profound level with the audience. I love hearing an audience singing back at me, and at this particular show, the whole room joined in on song after song.

“It didn’t matter that most of them were new to my music; they sang anyway. They followed the advice of my signature song, ‘If you don’t know the words, sing louder!’ And they did just that. The energy in the room was palpable … It was exhilarating … definitely the reward for all the hard work that goes into booking, promoting and creating a music career. Man, I love my job!”

What was the hardest thing Cary ever had to do?

“I have lived through great loss, moved through intense grief; I have birthed two children and ridden my bike through the desert from San Francisco to L.A., but there is nothing that compares with raising a teenage daughter. Hands down, that is the hardest thing I’ve done in my life to date!”

Cary lives with husband Peter, children Clara, 13, Quinn, 10, and new puppy Gracie. With all of her musical and theatrical accomplishments what does she regard as her most impressive characteristic?

“I play a mean game of bananagrams.”

More details about Friday’s concert at mothersincharge.org or meghancary.com. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com

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