The Wailin Jennys are Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody and Heather Masse three distinct voices that together make an achingly perfect vocal sound.
Starting as a happy accident of solo singer-songwriters getting together for a one-time-only performance at a tiny guitar shop in Winnipeg, Manitoba, The Wailin’ Jennys have grown over the years into one of today’s most beloved international folk acts. Founding members Ruth Moody and Nicky Mehta along with New York-based Heather Masse continue to create some of the most exciting and exquisite music on the folk-roots scene, stepping up their musical game with each critically-lauded recording and thrilling audiences with their renowned live performances.
In 2004, The Wailin’ Jennys released their first full-length album 40 Days in the to great critical acclaim, and in 2005 it won them a Juno Award (Canadian Grammy) for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year. Bolstered by their frequent appearances on Garrison Keillor’s public radio show A Prairie Home Companion, The Jennys exploded onto the roots music scene, performing at packed venues across the Canada, the U.S. and throughout the world. Their next CD Firecracker was a powerful follow-up to their debut album and found The Jennys stepping out of the folk realm and into the world of alt-country, pop and rock. Garnering much attention, it was nominated for a Juno Award and won a 2007 Folk Alliance Award for “Contemporary Release of the Year.” It charted for over 56 weeks on the Billboard charts and was followed up by their 2009 release Live at Mauch Chunk Opera House, which also spent over a year on the Billboard bluegrass charts. It captured the magic of their live performances with show-stopping harmonies, impressive instrumental prowess, breathtaking songs and witty stage banter. Now, The Wailin’ Jennys join the ranks of Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris, recording their new studio album Bright Morning Stars with award-winning producer Mark Howard. Co-produced by frequent Jennys collaborator and Juno Award-nominated David Travers-Smith, the album combines fresh and innovative sounds with the band’s signature harmonies–a perfect mix of Americana, pop and traditional folk that is certain to be an instant classic.
Although known primarily as an acoustic outfit, The Wailin’ Jennys have a wide range of musical backgrounds that have formed their musical sensibilities. Soprano Ruth Moody (vocals, guitar, accordion, banjo, bodhrán) is a classically trained vocalist and pianist known as an accomplished, versatile singer of traditional and Celtic music and as the former lead singer of Juno-nominated roots band Scruj MacDuhk. She recently released her first full-length solo album The Garden, whose title track was the #4 most played song of 2010 on international folk radio. Mezzo Nicky Mehta (vocals, guitar, harmonica, drums, ukulele), a trained dancer raised on classical music, 70′s a.m. radio and heavily influenced by alternative pop, was nominated for a Canadian Indie Music Award for her solo album Weather Vane. In July 2009 she became the proud mother to twin boys, Beck and Finn, who join the band on tour as the newest Jennys roadies. Alto Heather Masse (vocals, upright bass) is a Jazz Voice graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, who has performed in Mark O’Connor’s Hot Swing, Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings and is a regular guest on A Prairie Home Companion. She has also toured with her own band, supporting her 2009 Red House release Bird Song. With their varying backgrounds, each of the Jennys is unique in their individual expression. Together they forge a unified folk-pop sound—all delivered with the irresistible vocal power of three.
For a detailed list of our accomplishments, go to our Awards, Nominations & Charts page.
Although best known for her work with The Wailin’ Jennys, Soprano Ruth Moody is an artist of remarkable depth and grace in her own right. Critics have lauded her ethereal vocals, impressive multi-instrumentalism (she plays guitar, banjo, accordion, piano, and bodhrán), and her talent as a songwriter. Writing with a maturity and wisdom that belies her age, her songs are timeless, universal, and exceptionally well-crafted, all sung with a unique intimacy and honesty that is unmistakably hers.
Ruth was a finalist in the USA Songwriting Competition and was recognized by the International Songwriting Competition for her song “One Voice,” which has gone on to be a signature song for The Wailin’ Jennys. It has been covered by countless artists and has been performed in concert halls, churches and schools throughout the world.
Ruth recently released her highly-anticipated solo album, The Garden. Although she put out a solo EP in 2002 called Blue Muse, it is Ruth’s first full-length recording. Released on Red House Records on April 20, 2010, the album was produced by David Travers-Smith and features an all-star cast including neo-bluegrass band Crooked Still, Kevin Breit (Norah Jones, k.d. lang), Matt Peters of The Waking Eyes, Luke Doucet, Oh Susanna, and a guest appearance by The Wailin’ Jennys.
Ruth showcased at the South By Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival in Austin Texas in 2010 and will tour throughout 2011 and 2012, playing solo and with The Wailin’ Jennys.
Mezzo Nicky Mehta has been called a poet and songwriter of exceptional depth and maturity whose ability to “walk with sorrow” has made her music vital and hopeful; Mehta’s songs reflect a wisdom sometimes hard-won but never uncelebrated. Her first album Weather Vane was nominated for a 2002 Canadian Music Award for Outstanding Roots Recording and the venerable Sing Out! publication counted her among the most promising up and coming singer-songwriters in North America.
As a founding member of The Wailin’ Jennys, Nicky has continued to capture hearts and imaginations with her music. She was a finalist in the USA Songwriting Competition for her masterful “Arlington.” As well, her song “Begin”, a compassionate ode to mindfulness, was both featured in the film “The Cake Eaters” (directed by Mary Stuart Masterson and starring Kristin Stewart) and on the season-closing episode of Lifetime’s “Army Wives”.
Nicky gave birth to twin boys, Beck and Finn, in July of 2009 and is thrilled to have them and her partner, Grant (the band’s sound engineer) out on the road with her.
New York singer-songmaker Heather Masse grew up in rural Maine and began singing at an early age. Trained at the New England Conservatory of Music as a jazz singer, she is steeped in the jazz tradition, which informs her distinct approach to singing folk, pop and bluegrass.
A member of the Billboard-charting folk supergroup The Wailin’ Jennys, Heather has performed at the top venues, sharing the stage with the world’s most acclaimed pop, classical and jazz acts, including Elvis Costello, Wynton Marsalis, Sheryl Crow and the Boston Pops Orchestra. She has been a frequest guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, both as a solo performer and as a member of The Jennys. Heather has performed with the renowned contemporary bluegrass band The Wayfaring Strangers and in 2006, recorded an eponymous album with Joy Kills Sorrow, a contemporary stringband from Boston. She also released Tell Me Tonight with the Brooklyn-based collaboration Heather & the Barbarians.
In 2008, Heather released Many Moons, an EP of jazz-inspired folk duets with pianist Jed Wilson. Now releasing her first full-length album, she delivers Bird Song–her solo debut on Red House Records. Showcasing her luscious alto voice and her superb songwriting, the CD is acoustic pop music at its best–thoughtful and soulful and sure to be a hit with fans of Norah Jones and Alison Krauss.