Erdenheim singer/songwriter creates choir digitally

By Len Lear
Posted 1/8/21

Meghan Cary, an Erdenheim resident who has acted in more than 100 plays and whose music won her the coveted Billboard magazine “Critic’s Choice for Best Newcomer” is a multi-talented performer who is just as resilient as she is talented.

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Erdenheim singer/songwriter creates choir digitally

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Meghan Cary, an Erdenheim resident who has acted in more than 100 plays and whose music won her the coveted Billboard magazine “Critic’s Choice for Best Newcomer” as well as numerous other accolades, is a multi-talented performer who is just as resilient as she is talented.

“I was suddenly home on weekends with no shows (because of the pandemic) and able to spend more time with my kids at a really crucial age,” she said recently. “Being off the road also meant I had time to let our 'River Rock' music video evolve into the 'River Rock Project' (a project by Cary to honor the women who fought for decades against huge odds to get women the right to vote, which finally happened in 1920 with the 19th Amendment). And just when we were about to gather over 100 people to sing in the choir of the song for the video, the pandemic hit. Our plan went out the window, and we had to rethink the whole thing.

“So we pivoted; we asked people to send us individual videos of themselves singing the chorus of the song, and we built our nationwide, diverse, inspiring, beautiful choir digitally. In the end, what looked like a hugely limiting factor — not being able to shoot the choir live — actually opened the project up to be even more inclusive and powerful. I am so grateful for the incredible team that worked tirelessly to keep the River Rock Project growing and evolving!”

There was a flurry of outdoor shows in September for Meghan when restrictions had lifted and the weather was conducive to gathering outside. So Meghan was able to play vineyards and arboretums, and her River Rock Project added music to some centennial celebrations and get-out-the-vote rallies.

“I so much admire all the musicians who found ways to create during this isolation, especially those who recorded complete albums by passing tracks around and having other musicians add their parts. That is so heroic. The music plays on, and we need it now more than ever!”

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. (Meghan’s mantra is: “If you don’t know the words, sing louder.")

When asked her age in an earlier interview, Cary said, “Actually, I feel 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 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. 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 was also being played on mainstream radio in more than 40 markets in the U.S. and Canada.

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, and she released her first book, “Sing Louder: the Stories Behind the Songs.”

“We’ve done several table readings of 'Caterer' and some full-up staged readings of the show, and have rewritten scenes, songs, characters over and over. It’s my first experience working on a musical, and I had no idea how long the process takes, but what an incredible experience! Hearing these Broadway superstars singing songs I wrote, bringing so much passion and talent to them and then watching the audience respond (pre-pandemic) was such an amazing experience!

“We’re still shopping the show around for a full-up workshop but have stepped back during the pandemic since it's not a great idea to get people together in a room to sing around a table at each other right now! But while I’m not able to work on 'Caterer' because of the pandemic, I've had time to come up with the story idea for my next musical and begin writing some music for it.”

In recent years (pre-pandemic), Cary 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) and several house concerts, “anywhere we can gather everyone for an evening of high-energy music, stories of love, loss, finding joy and raising our voices together.”

For more information, visit meghancary.com. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com

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