Singer-songwriter Lily Mae makes a dent in the music scene before getting her high school diploma.
By Jack Firneno
Wire Staff Writer
Being a teenager can be awkward enough, and sharing the stage with your favorite musician or performing as the opening act for internationally recognized acts must be harrowing at that age. Unless, of course, that teenager’s most embarrassing moment on stage already happened when she was a toddler.
“I was 4 years old and I asked my mom to write a solo for me in the play she was writing,” recalled singer-songwriter Lily Mae. Now 17, the Furlong resident says she barely remembers the experience, save for her very first performance: “I walked out and fell flat on my face.”
Fortunately, Mae has come a long way from that debut. Since picking up the guitar two years ago, the pastoral acoustic guitar and ethereal singing on her debut EP, Early Days, has been featured on the regional tastemaker radio station WXPN. Mae’s performed at clubs in New York City and folk festivals in the Delaware Valley. Her favorite singer, Jenny Owens Young, sang on stage with her during Mae’s own birthday performance, and Mae got to open for Young a few weeks ago in New Jersey. This month, Mae is making her debut at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, opening for internationally renowned artist Joan Osborne.
“This is just the best job I could ever ask for,” said Mae. “To play music and have people listen to it is a dream. I want to work really hard so I can do it forever.”
For Mae, the dream job started with a fan letter and a blanket fort. When she was 15, Mae wrote an email to Young, telling her how much she enjoyed her music. Young responded, and the two kept chatting. “She was so nice. That left a huge mark on me,” she explained. That summer, Mae said she “lived in my room and learned all her songs on guitar.”
Later, Mae sent a recording of her playing a Young song to her idol, who posted it on her website. “We had been talking for a while and we’re friends now, but that was the first time she had any idea that I was a musician, too,” explained Mae.
Inspired, Mae combined her burgeoning songwriting skills with poetry written by her older sister, Chloe. “I decided I didn’t have enough life experience to write about my own life, and she was taking a creative writing class at the time,” Mae explained. She began writing music to Chloe’s poems, and said they composed their first song together in her room under the blanket fort in her room “that stayed strong for a year and a half.”
The linen structure may be down, but Mae’s goals – and hopes – are way up. Crediting amazing support from her family – both her parents are musicians – and friends, she plans to record a new album over the next few months and release three singles by the summer. “It’s going to have a ton of musicians on it,” she said, but she’s most excited about having Elliott Jacobson, the New York-based drummer and producer who has worked with Young among many others.
Mae hopes to release the album next fall and then tour as much as she can to support it.
“That’s the plan: music,” she says. But, until then she’ll be concerned with a different agenda: education.
This year, Mae is a high school senior at Solebury School, where her star is already starting to shine. “I’m already starting to get a lot of questions, like where I’ll be playing next and if I ever have time to do my homework,” she laughed. This year, she says many of the underclassmen aren’t used to seeing her around in school. “We were at an assembly and one kid was like, ‘Hey, that’s Lily Mae!’” she recalled. “It’s been pretty cool.”
Check out Lily Mae online at http://www.lilymaemusic.com