LADY LIBERTY

It is with extreme pride that I present the song LADY LIBERTY, released on October 8, 2020, by KZZ Music.

All of the following questions come from a Q&A with SRO PR:

Given all that we’ve seen in 2020, your song “Lady Liberty” resonates even
more. What was your inspiration for the song?

While we have seen an explosion of issues in this year, what we really have
is an explosion of voices, tired of what they have witnessed and experienced
for much, much longer. I have been lucky to see progress made for womxn,
the LGBTQ+ community, and many others in my lifetime, but I’ve also seen
a lot of back sliding, along with things that are shocking for a country that
prides itself on freedom and equality (and in this day and age). I don’t know
how to not be outraged by the children in cages at the boarder. Or that amid
this global pandemic, there are so many without access to housing or proper
medical care.
Back in June, we not only saw a renewed outcry for justice for the Black
community, we also saw a resurgence of hateful, racist actions, that have
been creeping out into the open steadily these past few years, and it all just
came to a boiling point for me. I wondered if it were too many topics for one
song, but how could I not cover as much of it as possible? Each subject
tumbled into the next. Each of these things, and more, are important to the
health, soul, and growth of our country. As Gloria Steinem said, “It is not
possible to have women’s liberation without racial liberation, and vice versa.”
Everything is tied together.
We are meant to uphold the promise of Liberty for each other, and this song
is written to be a reminder of that.

The song begins with the memorable words at the Statute and based on the
words of The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus and builds from there. When
and where was “Lady Liberty” written?
I was at home, in Los Angeles – my lyric journal tells me it was June 23,
2020. I couldn’t get the images of protests out of my head, the pictures of
children in cages on the boarder, the feeling of being in the crowd holding
signs and calling out for equality, equity, and justice, remembering where I
was when marriage equality passed…and I started thinking about Lady
Liberty, holding her hand up to light the way for immigrants and people from
all places. I recalled a fragment of the message, but I wanted to know
exactly what was inscribed there at the statue, what exactly she was meant
to represent…and I was so moved by the words, I picked up my guitar,
started playing, and began singing them.

 

While most songs are written from the perspective of a narrator, or as a first
person account, on this song, you’ve written it from the perspective of one
of the most iconic American images. Why did you take that approach?

I kept thinking to myself, “what would Lady Liberty have to say about the
state of things here? What did she have to say in the first place?” Reading
the words again, after all of these years, being reminded that it was a call-
in…her opening her arms to those in need, those tired and weary souls,
hopeful for a better life…well the rest of the song just flowed from there. I
was so inspired by Emma Lazarus’ words, her own ideas of what Lady
Liberty might say, that I began a continuation of them, beginning with “Give
them rest, and give them more.”
Each verse ends with a version of that statement, recognition that each of
these groups of people have been fighting for a long time, and almost like a
prayer, calling for reprieve and relief, before they pick up the fight for
another day.
I was needing to write a piece of this nature, on theses topics, and part of
me was held back by “who am I to say all of these things?”
At first, writing from her point of view gave me permission, and a platform
from which to explore a greater overview of the people that live on this
land…the original poem expressed what I so deeply wish that I could do –
gather people into my arms and promise them a better future.
And as I went on, I recognized that we are, each of us, extensions of this
iconic image – she holds the lamp, she stands as a beacon of hope, but WE
are the hope, we are the action that makes those things a reality. We are the
ones to welcome and make a place for those seeking a better life, we are the
ones standing up and speaking out, voting, creating legislation. That is part
of the privilege and responsibility of living in the United States.

While you’re Los Angeles-based now, you hail from Philadelphia, one of
America’s most historic cities–how did that influence your viewpoint on the
country?
I definitely grew up with a strong sense of connection to this country’s early
days. It was so easy to go walk around historic Olde City and see the places
that you read about in books. I think it’s easy to get lost in the start of this
country as a story…the Founding Fathers, Betsy Ross and the flag, as if they
are fabricated characters. But I was lucky enough to be surrounded by it
(and always intrigued by it), and to see them as real people. People with
flaws, just like you and I. People who were trailblazers and full of hope, and
determination, but still stuck in the time that they were in. Women,
relegated to the home, men, fighting for freedom, but not granting it to
those they raised families with, and even more awful, those that they
deemed fit to own.
I can’t say that my eyes were always open to all of it, but growing up around
the US’ “birthplace” gave me an understanding that this country was and is
an ever-expanding, ever-evolving thing. It was never meant to stay as it
was in 1776.
It also gave me pride in the lofty and difficult goal of “Freedom and Justice
for All.” Striving for that means having the courage to look at where you’re
failing, so that you can course correct. Declaring that we stand for freedom
does not mean that we actively do. Standing for freedom means that we
stand, and we make changes and move forward, together.

You ask for “Justice For All” and “Empty The Prisons of modern day slaves”
in the song. How did growing up in such a culturally diverse city impact
you?
I spent my early years in a town just outside of the city lines, filled with
working class families, and moved into the city proper when I was a
teenager. What I learned at a very young age is that the world does not
revolve around people who look just like me, or who come from a similar
type of family, or upbringing. I learned about the immigrant life from the
Italian side of my family, and like anyone, the more diverse my surroundings
became, the more aware my world view was. I definitely believed in
“Freedom and Justice for All” since being taught the principles of this
country, but I didn’t come to an understanding about the prison system and
the continued effects of segregation and red lining, etc, until much more
recently. I will always be learning, because while I came from a family that
encouraged educating myself on the experiences of others, I still grew up a
white girl in America. I know for some, that line will be heard as a call to
empty the prisons of violent criminals, but that is not at all what I mean.

With the video for “Lady Liberty,” what did you visualize?
(VIDEO COMING OCTOBER 15TH)

For some reason, I kept imagining a golden field. Lucky for me, California is
covered with them this late into the year. I didn’t want to inundate listeners
with more visuals of the harsh realities we’ve been witnessing, I wanted to
create something that would give people hope. To make them feel connected
to one another, and the greater goal of equality. To recognize that we are, all
of us, extensions of this beacon of Liberty.
At some point, I started imagining the story being told primarily through
American Sign Language interpreters. It’s so important to elevate
accessibility to the handi-capable communities, and in this case to make
sure that the message could be received by the deaf community. They must
be included in this fight for our country and our people.
They are, just like everyone, vital pieces.

 

Where was the song recorded?
What you’re hearing is as true a representation of the times as the lyrics are
– a quarantined production.
Each musician recorded in their individual home studios, beginning with my
guide guitar and vocal tracks. Some home studios were already up and
running, pre-Covid, and some were results of making it work during this
pandemic.
Before we mixed, I re-recorded my guitar and lead vocal at ElectroSound
Studios, where they have a great Covid-Safe setup. The song was also
mixed there, by Jason Hiller, and mastered overseas by Lazerus – Voice of
the Silences.
Which musicians played on the track?

You’ll hear me on acoustic guitar, lead vocal, and some background vocals.
Matt Musty (Train, Grace Potter) is on drums and percussion, Zachary Ross
(Heather Anne Lomax, Janiva Magness), who co-produced the track and played electric guitar, Chris Joyner (Jason Mraz, Heart) on organ, Ed Maxwell (Shelby Lynn, Meiko) on upright
bass, Malynda Hale and Sarah Ault (front women themselves) on vocals. It
was then mixed by Jason Hiller (Maesa, Kyle McNeil), and mastered by
Lazerus – Voice of the Silences (Donald Fagen, Stevie Wonder).

What was the process of recording a song while in quarantine?
It was a lot trickier, approaching recording in fully virtual setups, on a brand
new song that had never been performed, and felt so weighted. It was a
longer process, start to finish, for that very reason and was definitely an
exercise in creative communication, for me.
First thing I did was have a backyard, masked-and-far-away rehearsal with
Ed Maxwell, who has played upright bass on my music for the past few years
(and on my last record). It was a relief to play music together again. We
talked about a Joni-and-Joco feeling, meeting folk with a bit of jazz, and an
improvisational expression from him. It was really lovely to work through the
song that way, but it still left me wondering about the overall instrumental
composition.
After I recorded a guide guitar and vocal track at home, it was sent out to
Matt Musty, who is a brilliant drummer and lovely human (as are all of the
musicians on this recording. I am so lucky to work with such genuine and
lovely people). My partner, Zachary Ross, co-produced this track, so we
chatted with Matt about what we were looking for, the feeling I hoped to
express, and went back and forth to create the percussive landscape for the
song. We ended up using three separate tracks that Matt sent us, two full
drum kit passes and extra cymbals and percussion, because the song has a
bit of an odd form, and has various important peaks, as opposed to maybe
your typical single song peak. It was interesting to find our way through that
challenge, and so exciting to put those artistic percussive pieces all together
to create such a huge heartbeat to the song. (Especially considering that
Matt had to work during hours that didn’t disturb his neighbors. We were all
adjusting and finding our way through this new process, and he really hit a
home run with these parts.)
Once the drums were set, we sent it off to Ed Maxwell to work his magic,
and bring the beautiful voice of the upright bass to the song, giving it some
additional tension-and-release.
Chris Joyner got ahold of it next. We originally asked him to play piano,
figuring organ would be more of a background layer, piano stepping out into
the spotlight. But as it turned out, his organ parts were what spoke the most
to us, and gave us the feeling of sacred mission that we needed – the piano,
while beautiful, sadly made it’s way to the cutting room floor!

At that point, I went in person to Jason Hiller’s studio, ElectroSound, to re-
record my guitar and lead vocal. He has a great Covid-Safe setup there,

being able to enter and exit the vocal booth from the outdoors, and it was a
pleasure to get up and go to work that day, and let myself pour out my heart
onto the mic.

After that, I put together a preliminary vocal arrangement, which went out
to to the wonderful Malynda Hale and Sarah Ault – both front women in their
own rights, whom I am so pleased to have on this song. We had to do a bit
of tweaking and back-and-forth, as again, working through tight harmonies
and adding additional without the luxury of each other’s presence is a
challenge. But it really came together so beautifully, and I am so moved to
hear their voices rise through this song with mine.
While I was caught up in a concentration fog of harmonies and vocal parts,
Zachary quietly was working to bring his own voice to the table, requesting I
wait to hear it until he felt he had properly spoken (on electric guitar).
Having witnessed him pour his heart and soul into songs of my own, as well
as the beautiful creations of others, I know how personally he takes his
work, and how specific he wanted to be in adding to a message of this
nature.
What we ended up with is such a thoughtful and passionate piece of the
puzzle, a counterpoint to my own voice, and hearing it all come together
leaves me in awe of everyone’s ability to rise to the occasion and bring their
individual emotions, in addition to their creative expressions, to this piece.
Once everything was put together, it was sent off to Jason Hiller, over at
ElectroSound Studios, for mixing. I absolutely love working with Jason, and
this time was no exception. He did an initial pass which was sent back to us,
and after notes and tweaking, we went and made the final listen and
adjustments in the studio.
That left one part to be completed, which was mastering, by the extremely
talented Lazerus – Voice of the Silences. This involved a little more in the
way of tricky communication, as he is working in Norway, but we had the
luck of catching each other almost every time one reached out, which was so
helpful. He does extremely artistic, spectral sounding work, and the end
result gives me goosebumps.
The process of putting this particular song together, in this way, during this
time, really gave me hope – something that seems to easily slip out of our
hands right now – for the future. Not just of music, but of this country, and
the changes that need to be made, the challenges that are being faced, and
the people that are rising to the occasion. We each play a part in what will
eventually be the story of this time…but it is very much real life, and so
much is at stake. Every voice is necessary, and every voice counts.

 

We Are All In This Together

A (positive) story regarding the opposite sex and personal space that I feel is worth sharing:
Last weekend, I met up with two friends at a bar, to catch up and unwind after work. It was a Saturday afternoon.
We were enjoying our time together, when a few fellas came over to chat with us. One, in particular, struck up a conversation with me – his name was Jake, and he was in town from Australia.
Everything was perfectly fine, everyone was just chatting, when he leaned past me to hear what my friend had said.
In the process, he very lightly, but purposefully, placed his hand on my lower back. When he leaned back out, he kept it there.
The move was subtle, and would have been fine, if I was interested, or flirting with him, etc. It wasn’t creepy. Just not desired.
During the brief time he leaned in to hear my friend, my body tensed and I did that thing that we do…the rushing thoughts – what to do, what to say, how to get out of the situation without it escalating. After all, he was a stranger, and he had been drinking. You never know what the response will be. I flashed through all of the lines, all of the reasons, all of the things I could say, quickly, while trying to lean away physically, which didn’t do the trick.
So I turned to him.
“You seem very sweet, and I know you mean no harm, but please remove your hand from my lower back.”
He did immediately, and apologized.
I told him it was okay, we were all good.
A few minutes later, he came back up to me and apologized again, stating that he didn’t mean to make me uncomfortable, or to upset me.
I told him that he hadn’t upset me, that it was okay, I was just letting him know where I stood.
What was beautiful about this exchange, for me, was that he heard what I said, and responded accordingly. He didn’t get defensive. I didn’t have to give reasons.
I didn’t have to state that I had a boyfriend – I didn’t need to be claimed or owned by another man in order for him to think it was worth respecting my wishes.
That is, so often, the case.
When I was single, I kept a photo album of my ex-MMA fighter ex-boyfriend on my phone, as “proof,” and “protection.”
But I didn’t have to be owned by anyone but my own self and my own wishes.
And that is 100% how it ought to be, 100% of the time, with 100% of anything concerning MY body.
I’ve written before about the ripple effects of small indiscretions and large ones – the way they effect us individually and as a whole, for the rest of our lives. And I believe the ripple effect can happen in the opposite way, in every small, and large positive interaction we have. (Read “Sexual Harassment in the Daylight“)
I know these men are out there. I am friends with them. I am in partnership with them. I am colleagues with them.
But it was nice to come across it from a stranger, and it gave me hope for the spreading of that good in the world.
We need it. We need men to listen, to keep showing up and doing their part and setting examples and speaking out and living by the things they believe in.
So thank you to Jake, from Australia, and all of the men who are listening, who are showing up, doing their part, setting examples, speaking out and living by the things they believe in.
We are all in this together.

Making the “Murder Ballad” Music Video

(find the video HERE, or below)

Murder Ballad: written and performed by Mary Scholz
Filmed on location at the Okefenokee Swamp in Waycross, GA

Directed by Lindsey Haun
Dir of Photography: Ruel Lee
Featuring: Shannon Murray
Edited by Mary Scholz and Lindsey Haun
Assistant Editor: Katherine Irwin
Color: Adam Bial and Lindsey Haun
Produced by Mary Scholz and Lindsey Haun

About the video production…

In January, in casual conversation, I told Lindsey that I wanted to make a music video for Murder Ballad.

She leaned in. “Do you want to make that music video with me?”

FUCK YES. I MOST CERTAINLY DO.

My friend Lindsey Haun is a badass, talented director, writer, producer and actor.

I had an idea. It involved boots in the mud. Water. Two women. Woods. Dragging.
Damp, darkness.
But I wasn’t quite sure what else.

“You mean a swamp?”

FUCK YES. I MOST CERTAINLY DO.

She had an idea. It involved how to actually plan filming in said swamp, and all of the killer things we could do with the video once we got there.

Pun, very clearly, intended.

In February we brainstormed, began to shape the plot. What we didn’t want. What we did.
She storyboarded, and I bought airfare.

In March we flew to southern Georgia. We kept it a secret.

 

We called on her great friend Ruel Lee to tell the story from behind the camera. His good nature, great friendships and knowledge of the swampland granted us access to some incredible locations. (THANK YOU!) He put us up, drove us around to find our settings, and captured those beautiful shots.

We called on my great friend Shannon Murray, who just happened to be in Georgia at the time, to come be in the video. Along with being a phenomenal actor, Shannon is also a producer and filmmaker herself, and ended up being an irreplaceable help on set. (And a total, total sport. That water was freezing.)
“Shannon, I have a project. But involves me murdering you in a bunch of different ways.” “What time do you need me there?”

We filmed over 3.5 days. Before dawn, after dark.

In the swamp. Inside houses. In attics. On back roads.

We used trucks, boats, boots. We got dirty. We got wet.

It was cold.

It was awesome.

The rest of March and April, Lindsey and I traveled, while Katherine Irwin organized the footage and did our initial cut.

In May and June, Lindsey and I edited together, separately, together again. I took over while she was traveling and we exchanged notes over email conversations.

Adam Bial kicked off the color.

Lindsey put the sweet, sharp, unruly nails in the coffin once she was home.

This video would most certainly not be what it is without that woman.

Or any of the artists involved.

Musicians, included. (Jason Hiller, Zachary Ross, Jorge Balbi, Ex Maxwell, Ty Bailie. Me too, but ya know.)

And now it’s yours.

Conversation and questions welcome.

(I’ll answer questions in the comments section, or on YouTube comments…or Facebook comments…)

Murder Ballad Music Video

Murder Ballad: written and performed by Mary Scholz
Filmed on location at the Okefenokee Swamp in Waycross, GA

Directed by Lindsey Haun
Dir of Photography: Ruel Lee
Featuring: Shannon Murray
Edited by Mary Scholz and Lindsey Haun
Assistant Editor: Katherine Irwin
Color: Adam Bial and Lindsey Haun
Produced by Mary Scholz and Lindsey Haun
[Learn more about the production itself, HERE]

About the video and song…

Sometimes, when we reach the end of a relationship – a very necessary end, that you didn’t even know was building up inside of you, we make big, bold decisions.

Something to break you free of where you were.

Sometimes, it feels as if we’ve done something hideous, and huge.

It’s usually shocking to others.

They didn’t see it coming. They don’t understand.

But they don’t need to. Only you do.

 

The thing about abuse is that it doesn’t have to come from your lover.

It could come from a friend.

A family member.

The thing about abuse is that it doesn’t always manifest in violence.

It doesn’t always show it’s bruises.

Visibly.

At first.

The thing about abuse is that it can be mental.

Verbal.

Emotional.

Sexual.

The thing about abuse is that it can come from someone who has other, non abusive qualities.

The thing about abuse is that it doesn’t just effect the relationship it’s happening in.

It doesn’t just effect the way you are with one another, or the way you feel.

It begins to effect the way you treat other people.

Abuse is given, and then abuse is learned.

That’s what this video is about.

That person you become when you’ve been abused, for too long, and you begin to abuse in return.

The song, I wrote from the perspective of someone taking an axe to their relationship in order to end it, and start fresh on the other side.

Not an actual axe, not an actual murder – just the final end to something that needed to end long before.

The moment when you wake up, and realize what this relationship has been doing to you. How you’ve been manipulated. Made small. Abused.

The moment you say “Enough is Enough.”

The video features two women, because I wanted to explore the blurry line of intimacy in female friendships, and the ways it’s used in unhealthy ones. Relationships where they keep each other down, in order to keep each other close. We can talk more about that later.

For now, I’ll just say this.

I do not support or condone violence.

But I do support the healthy end to an unhealthy relationship.

Sexual Harassment in the Daylight

Sexual Harassment in the Daylight
By Mary Scholz

It’s 3pm. I’m in Killarney, Ireland, and I’ve got a few hours before show time. It’s my first afternoon in this adorable town, and one of the few rain-free days I’ve had since I arrived overseas. The sunshine is warm and bright. People bustle by.

 

At a busy street corner, I find a knee-level concrete wall, sit down, break out my journal and begin a bit of writing.

My guitar and suitcase are at the hostel up the street. I’m free of all sweaters, umbrellas, merchandise, and other extraneous travel items.  All of the things that scream “tourist!,” and all of the things that make me feel tied down.

I am a free, confident, cautious, smart, capable solo woman. And I feel good.

 

Two young men approach and sit on either side of me.

“Are you on holiday?” the one with the fiery red hair and extensive freckles asks.

A little bit bigger, his expression almost seems to mock me when he smiles. If I were casting a film, he would be my stereotypical movie bully.

They both look about 25. I’m a few months shy of 30.

 

“Why do you ask?” I reply, surprised to be suddenly surrounded.

 

“We’re on holiday from Dublin. Took a few days off to bus down to Killarney and hang at the pubs here,” he says rather openly, and I realize that I made an unnecessary snap judgment of him.

 

I relax a bit.

The camaraderie you’ll find between travelers is wonderful. Ireland was my third country on this trip, and I had run into so many lovely fellow explorers. Men and women alike. Older, younger. People from the States, from Europe, from the Middle East and Asia.

I’d met kind and gracious locals who gave directions or helped with luggage when there were large flights of stairs and no lift to be found. I struck up conversations and made friends, and kept to myself when I wanted to be just me.

 

The not-movie-bully-boy and I chat about travel a bit.

I tell the Irish lads about my show, encourage them to come, to bring friends if they know people in town. The second kid stays quiet. He doesn’t make eye contact with me.

The sunshine is still warm and bright; people continue to bustle on by.

 

“Do you ever meet men on the road?”

 

“I always meet men on the road. And women. Children. All types of people,” I joke.

 

“But no. Do you ever meet men on the road? Pick someone out at a show and go home with them and let them fuck you?”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

 

Everything in my body tenses up.

 

“I bet you’re a real flirt. I bet you let men take you home to fuck you. I bet you like it. You do, don’t you? You like to be fucked.” 

The second kid keeps his eyes averted.

The conversation has flipped so quickly that I don’t know what to do with myself.

The sun is still warm and bright; people continue to bustle on by.

 

Freckles begins to ask more specific, uncomfortable questions, becoming quickly aggressive and demanding as he goes.

 

I tell him he’s being inappropriate and to leave me alone.

He demands my phone number. He’s furious that I refuse to give it to him. He wants to buy me a drink, why won’t I let him buy me a drink?

 

People continue to bustle on by. I can’t feel the sunshine anymore.

 

What I do feel is small and trapped; and stupid, because I’m still sitting there. But I don’t really know what this person will do if I move. Or what the role of the second, silent kid will be. And I don’t know this town.

 

I had prepared for unwanted advances on my solo adventure. After all, I had been traveling solo for years.
I had photos of my MMA fighter ex-boyfriend saved to my phone in case I needed to scare someone off with a story of “who was meeting me in a few minutes.”
(He was a sweetheart disguised as a bruiser).

 

My mind races, wanting to be defensive and meet aggression with aggression, but I was afraid of what the response could be.

If I walk towards my hostel, these guys could follow me and know where I am staying. They already know where I’ll be playing that night, and therefor where I’ll be exiting, alone, after my show. There are so many people walking by, but no one knows that I feel threatened and uncertain of how to proceed.

I don’t know how to tell them. I don’t know anyone in town.

And my bruiser-disguised-sweetheart ex wouldn’t actually be showing up in a few minutes. He didn’t even know I still had those photos to use as precautionary protection if needed. And I was so shocked and frozen, I didn’t remember to use them, anyway.

 

So I sit and I tell him to leave me alone. Refuse to answer his questions. Refuse to give him my number. Pray that neither one of them touches me.  Wonder how to get the attention of any one of the number of people who are walking by enjoying the sunshine.
I want to turn to the silent kid, who is sinking in stature, seemingly more and more ashamed as he listens, and ask him if he’s okay with this. Tell him that just because he’s not the one asking the questions, doesn’t mean he’s not harassing me through his silent approval.

 

Freckles finally gets frustrated and bored and gets up to leave, looking over his shoulder with the most aggressive and threatening look I’ve ever had directed at me.

 

He had an exit line, but I could hardly hear it, I was so upset.

Something about fucking a singer, though.

 

I wait until they are far enough out of sight, and make my way quickly to the hostel. I speak with the manager, explain what happened, what they looked like, and ask if he knew of anyone of that description staying there. I’m in tears suddenly and am once again feeling stupid. I mean, it wasn’t that bad, he didn’t actually do anything to me, and I shouldn’t have answered his initial questions.

 

I still can’t feel the sunshine; but people continue to bustle on by.

 

The hostel manager was, thankfully, very concerned, told me to notify him if I saw them on the premises, and assured me that they would be forced off property.

 

I stayed in my room for the rest of that beautiful afternoon. In my mind, I wand to say “fuck that, they can’t ruin my day here,” and go for that bike ride I had planned.

But my body, confidence and adventurous spirit shut down. I sat on the top bunk of the bunk bed.

 

I just sat there.

 

Hours passed.

 

I finally showered, and made my way to the pub for my performance, avoiding eye contact with everyone and instinctually shrinking away from men who passed by me, moving as far away from them as possible without stepping into oncoming traffic.

 

Those two boys didn’t show up that night, but another “lad,” felt the need to step up on stage, mid song, and kiss me goodbye, right on the lips, walking out, laughing.

On any other occasion, as a woman who is straightforward, blunt, and not afraid to speak up for herself, I would have had words with him from the microphone. But even on the stage, I just felt small.

 

Don’t walk alone at night. Don’t take dark alleys and don’t stay out too late. Never accept drinks from strangers that you don’t open yourself, don’t wear clothing that “invites” unwanted attention.

 

What about the daytime?

 

 

And why is it so ingrained in us, as females, from the age of at least thirteen, to know these rules and shame those who don’t abide by them?

 

It becomes blame-able. “Oh, she was walking alone? What was she wearing?”

 

These are good rules to know. Of course. They make you aware of your surroundings. Because, as a woman, you must be aware at all times.

 

But what are the rules for the daytime? For the workplace? For the coffee shop? For the movie theatre? For the grocery store?

 

It’s 10am in Paris and I’m again untethered, just me and my purse, headed down the metro staircase, on my way to have a look at the Moulin Rouge. I make quick eye contact with a gentleman who was walking up the stairs, and nod my head as a “hello.”

 

I love Paris. I love the people there. The architecture. The artwork. The language. The espresso. The baguettes. It seems so obvious and cliché, but I’m here now, and I get it.
I love Paris.

It’s a busy enough station. People coming and going, a teller behind the counter selling tickets and passes.

I begin to make my way through a turnstile when a man of about 45 throws his whole body against me, grabbing me and shoving himself into the turnstile with me. (Turnstiles in this station were more like small stalls, with doors.)

I don’t know if his purpose is to grab at my body or to skate through without paying. All I know is that out of nowhere, I have the weight of a man, half a foot taller than me, against my back  – fully pressed against me.

I pull myself away and slam the turnstile door on him as quickly as possible, yelling, “No – don’t do that! Don’t touch me!”

 

It was the man from the staircase.

 

He looks me in the eye, smiles, opens the door, whispers a simple “Merci,” and walks past me. There are people everywhere. No one flinched. No one looked up when I yelled. The teller, a woman of about 40, didn’t seem to notice, though it happened directly in front of her window.

 

I moved to the platform and the man, who was traveling with friends, continued to look at me, telling his friends what he did, chuckling, and moving the group slowly closer to me as I moved myself farther down the platform.

 

When the train came, I let them step on and stepped off, waiting for the next arrival.

 

The Moulin Rouge looked dirty and disgusting to me, as did everything else that day.

I felt attacked, and stupid; after all, it wasn’t that bad, and I’m pretty sure he was just trying to get through for free. I shouldn’t have made eye contact with him on the way down the stairs.

 

Don’t walk alone at night. Don’t take dark alleys and don’t stay out too late. Never accept drinks from strangers that you don’t open yourself, don’t wear clothing that “invites” unwanted attention.

 

What about the daytime?

 

And why was I blaming myself? And why did I have to FIGHT the urge to embellish these stories to make them sound worse so that people would understand why I felt uncomfortable and upset? And why, when I explained what had happened, did people ask me “you must have had your luggage, right? You looked like a tourist?” as if, in that case, it would be somewhat acceptable or at the very least understandable.

 

This is not the story of an American tourist in Europe. This is the story of a woman in broad daylight trying to go about her day. These things have happened in my own hometown. When people are around. When the sun is shining.

 

Don’t walk alone at night. Don’t take dark alleys and don’t stay out too late. Never accept drinks from strangers that you don’t open yourself, don’t wear clothing that “invites” unwanted attention.

 

But during the day…where are our tips for the day?

For the workplace? For the coffee shop? For the movie theatre? For the grocery store?

 

I am a self-sufficient individual. Resilient. Traveling does not scare me, living in my city does not scare me, visiting small towns I am unfamiliar with does not scare me – nor does conversing with people.

 

But the truth of the life of a woman is that this is a part of your every day.
And we have come to find being a little bit scared and on guard at all times completely normal. We don’t even identify it as such.

 

And these are the stories that don’t actually involve my being sexually assaulted.

These are the ones where I don’t get physically violated against my wishes.

Where a man doesn’t decide that I am his to take, touch, toy with just because he exists in the world.

 

I have those stories, too.

 

But these stories I’ve told here…they are just a spec in the overwhelming landscape of realities for women around the world. And every spec is an important piece of how we interact with each other.  The ones that are made out to be no big deal. The ones that are expected to have no real impact. The ones that are just “guys having fun.” “Being a man in a man’s world.”
The ones that make us shrink, make us smaller. Make us avoid eye contact, make us feel stupid, make us feel ashamed.

Make us keep our guard up, keep us from feeling safe.

 

Keep us from fully experiencing life.

 

And people think these “small things” don’t affect the world?

 

They impact every interaction I have with men. They impact where I go and how I plan my hours.

 

We, as women, have learned to brush things off, to make ourselves smaller because the less threatening we are to the men around us, the less likely it is for them to act aggressively towards us.

 

We do this without even realizing it. And then we do it very much on purpose.

It is our survival instinct.

 

And it affects everything.

I’ve seen a man get irritated because a woman he was trying to be kind to was “weird” towards him. But you have to understand the frequency with which a man being kind is bait for interaction, that quickly pivots to something threatening.

I’m not even going to go into sexual assault, rape, and how those experiences impact every relationship I have with every type of man I know.

Every consensual, healthy sexual encounter I’ve had since and in between.

How it impacts my loving, wonderful, incredible relationship.

 

No, I won’t go there. But I will go here.

 

First are the words, then are the actions.

Words impact. They breed complacency.

Talking about women in derogatory, demeaning ways and brushing it off as nothing more than “men being men,” or “locker room talk” excuses and emboldens those who think this is the natural, acceptable state of a man.

 

This is what starts out as a young boy laughing at the comments of someone he respects, learning it’s okay to speak that way, becomes a 25 year old verbally harassing a stranger, turns into a man scaring women for fun, and ends up a trusted confidant forcing themselves on another, unwilling individual.

 

This is what starts out as a young girl hearing a respected man use derogatory and de-humanizing language about women, beginning to think it’s normal herself, because the boys and men she trusts say nothing, or even laugh. It becomes letting a 25 year old man verbally abuse her because she doesn’t know how to respond without escalating the situation, allowing men to scare her for fun because she’s been warned that fighting back is dangerous, and eventually being raped by a confidant who she tells to leave her alone, but realizes that if he can do this horrible act, she doesn’t know what he’s capable of, and eventually stops fighting back out of fear of what could come next.

 

This is not the natural state of a man. This is not the natural state of a woman.

And this is not the acceptable state of dynamic between sexes.

 

2016

While I was updating my tour schedule for 2016, I noticed that my last blog post was NOVEMBER of 2015. What?! It’s been that long since I’ve checked in with this part of my website?

 

I suppose Instagram feels like a quick little blog.

 

But it’s no replacement for long form writing and thought.

It’s been a whirlwind of a year so far, and I can’t believe we’re already six months in.

I’ve been cooking up new songs for you…and I can’t wait for you to hear them.

It’s been wonderful to be back in Los Angeles, making home feel like home, and not just somewhere to stop before heading back out again. But don’t worry, I’m coming back to you – a few road shows in August, and I’m sure the rest of the year – but I’ll be working on a new album soon, and then we can sing all sorts of new songs together, okay? I promise.

 

We kicked off the 922 Collective in January, with a super successful show at El Cid, and a clothing drive that benefitted the Downtown Women’s Center, and the LA Mission. Look for a follow-up show this summer here in Los Angeles, and hopefully one in Philly, as well.

 

Speaking of summer, on July 14th, I’ll be opening up for Howie Day in Hermosa Beach, CA, at Sainte Rock. Many of you will remember his hit song, “Collide,” which came out right around the time I was first showcasing my own writing at coffee house open mics around the Philly area. Since I associate it with that time in my life, getting to play this show will be a really fun thing for me.

 

Back in February, I released a new music video for the re-invented “Love Me Still,”  thank you to your collaboration.

I’ve been playing various shows around central and southern California, but have otherwise stayed pretty local. As a great friend recently reminded me, it’s okay to take some time to rejuvenate yourself and your creative being.

(Also released a super simple, single take acoustic 2 song EP, which I performed at Agape International in February…)

Summer dates in CA, PA and OH listed here. Otherwise, see you on the social medias, (instagramfacebooktwitter), until we go into album production!

Hello, Love.

I’m currently sitting at a table on the sidewalk, outside of a coffee shop by the beach.
Hello, Love. Hello, California.

I knew how much I loved it here, and I knew I missed it badly, but it sure is reinforcement to come home and feel a rush of relief.

The past 8 months were amazing. I spent time with my family. I was there for my nephew’s first birthday. I saw my best friends from forever. I sang to college kids around the tri-state area. I flew to Europe. I played shows and saw amazing architecture and stayed with old friends I hardly knew and learned that I love, I met new folks and made new friends. I played in three countries new to Mary Scholz Music. I spent a time recording in London. I wrote every day. I drank lots of coffee and espressos. I ate baguettes and brown bread. I had yet another (but my first overseas) solo adventure. I spent Easter at Notre Dame with a woman I met in front of Buckingham Palace the week prior and became instantly friends with. I took trains and buses and metros and taxis. I ate crepes and biscuits. I slept on couches and in hotel rooms and at bed and breakfasts and in hostels. I carried my guitar and that giant suitcase and witnessed the kindness of strangers every time I reached a metro platform that only had a ridiculous set of stairs. I witnessed the darkness of strangers in harassment and heckling. But mostly, I witnessed the kindness. (That blog is coming)

I flew back to Philly and I was grateful for my time overseas, and grateful to go sleep at my parents’ home. I was there when one of my best friends had her third daughter.

I packed up my car. I drove from city to city, playing shows, being chased by the rain. Everywhere. I stayed with cousins and friends-of-friends and family-of-friends and perfect strangers and my closest friends from college. I camped and hiked and sang and danced. I slept on couches and futons and in spare rooms and tents and bed and breakfasts. I survived/loved fun shenanigans with Sarah, when our tours (purposefully) crossed paths and merged into one in the 5th week. I warded off anxiety attacks about being gone for so long and not having my own home base. I met so many wonderful people and shared stories and listened to their dream travel destinations. I drove 12 hour days and 10 hour days and played shows after them and pretended like I wasn’t exhausted. I loved everywhere that I was while I was there.

I GOT HOME.

I nearly ended up in that fire on the 15S, but I didn’t. I got home.

I haven’t been able to write much since my arrival – I think I’m just in a general state of relief and exhaustion. It’s the first time in YEARS that I don’t have the next 6-10 months planned out in full. (Don’t worry, I’ve got a few things planned – it’s just impossible to have an open calendar if you’re this gal) *side note, I’ve started a new song since starting this blog*

My main point is this – I am so grateful to every individual I have met and come to know in some way over the past 8 months. You’re beautiful. All of you. Thank you for sharing your homes, literal and figurative, with me. And Los Angeles – thank you for catching me when I landed.
It would never be what it is without the wonderful souls I meet, or the wonderful souls holding down the home front for me.

I’m going to go sit on the beach now.

“Run, Baby, Run” in Philly

One of the fun parts of the tour kickoff was getting to sing “Run, Baby, Run,” with two of my Philly voice students, who I have been working with since they were in grade school. (!)

They’re two beautiful, talented, grown women now, and it was so much fun to sing with them. I only wish you could see their faces in this video. -_-

Me, Erin and Sara McMenamin on harmonies, and Brianna Sig on drums. Enjoy!

US Summer Tour

It’s been a busy few weeks in the world of Mary Scholz Music. I’ve performed for beautiful people in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Granville, Chicago, Indanapolis, St. Louis, Defiance, St. Charles and Grand Island. The stormy weather has followed me seemingly everywhere, but it’s looking bright and sunny (with scattered storms) this week in Denver!

I’ve had guest musicians, failed PA systems, farm land, city lights and so much fun so far.

Here’s to the next half of the tour, starting this week in Colorado!