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Mary Rocap: Bio

In the eleventh grade I received two gifts of great significance, one was a Yamaha guitar; the second was a Folk Life recording of Odetta. Having grown up with opera and church music, hearing the simplicity of a voice, a song, and an instrument was transforming. The response to this hearing was a desire to do likewise. Music became a beloved companion.

The making of music took many forms including R & B bands and “Elvis” back-up vocals as well as acoustic duos, trios, and quartet groups, but the love of traditional music has always been the heart of my repertoire. I never aspired to be a songwriter, but upon reaching my forties came to the realization that there were songs within that were longing for expression.

I was awarded a NC Arts Council’s Artist Fellowship for Songwriting grant year 2001/2002. I have released four CDs. “Sweet Mimosa" (2002) and “Indian Summer” (2005) both of which include a couple traditional songs or hymns but are principally my own material. "Hallelujah! Amen." (2007) is entirely gospel. I put my own stamp on these wonderful hymns and spirituals written from the 1790s to the mid 1900s. And most recently "Deep December Dreams" (2011). I hope to do a spring CD to complete my romp around the seasons.

My songs find inspiration from two main sources. The first is the natural world and our place within it; the sea and stars are prominent features of my landscape. The other is my attempt to walk in faith, acknowledging that doubt is never far behind. In addition to pursuing music, I am a quilter, baker, bookkeeper, and chronicler of my backyard flock of chickens, but most importantly, a wife and mom of two great girls.

Playing music with friends has always been a big part of my musical experience. The following is a listing of some of the more important associations over the years. (See the links page for specific web sites.)

Lise Uyanik and The Mobile City Band/CityFolk:  The first time that I played music with Charlie Ebel (guitarist) was at a wedding in  1974. Charlie and I had both gone to Duke but did not really know each other. We played in the stall of an old cow barn because it was raining. I believe we played and sang Country Road by John Denver or James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James. It was fun and our voices and playing styles were compatible so we continued getting together and began to play out. When Charlie fell in love with Lise Uyanik we became a trio. To add my voice to Lise’s soulful and sultry one was and still is one of my great joys. As the folk era morphed into the R & B era our little trio became a quartet and finally a full sized band. We continue to play music together. It used to be in bars now it is for college reunions and 50 year-old birthday parties. It’s still just as much fun to belt out Aretha’s "Respect" as it ever was. Check out our album recorded in 2003 “Song For Us All” and about the documentary on us that Minnow Media is producing – all about the music and friendship that has endured and even thrives over the course of three decades. And we’ve been through a lot. My “Sweet Mimosa” is dedicated to Rodger (the drummer) and Annie Tygard. Annie died of cancer shortly before “Song For Us All” was completed. The band members are: Lise Uyanik: lead vocals, rhythm guitar Charlie Ebel: vocals, lead guitar Lew Wardell: bass Rodger Tygard: drums, vocals Jay Miller: keyboard and sax Sue Sneddon: percussion The Mobilettes: backing vocals – Anne Alexander, Donna Giles, and myself Former Mobilette: Shannon Dancy.

GraceNote: In 1992 GraceNote formed. We were all members of Blacknall Presbyterian Church in Durham, NC at the time and it seemed a natural move to join forces. So the voices of Julee Glaub, Karen Mulle, Janet Stolp and myself blended with the expressive percussive beat of Bob Mutter. And we did have an amazing blend – did a lot of a cappella and took material from many many sources. It was during this period that I began to write. We performed in local and not so local coffeehouses and churches but never recorded. This was a formative band for me as well as for Julee and Janet I think. Julee subsequently moved to Connecticut to do Irish music full time. She has since then moved back and is exploring the interface of Irish and Appalachian Mountain music with her husband Mark Weems in their group "Little Windows". She is making a name for herself and has released two wonderful CDs: “Fields Faraway” and “Blue Waltz.” Janet has kept up her writing of songs and won the prestigious NC Songwriter’s Coop Songwriting Contest (2003). She has released a CD called "Slow Me Down." It showcases the breath of her musical influences (jazz, folk, R&R) and I do some backing vocals on it. Karen’s lovely voice is heard less frequently as she has been on the mission field. There have been several reunions since GraceNote disbanded in 1997 all highly anticipated and enthusiastically received.

Bill Henderson:  When Bill Henderson needed a band to promote his new book "I Elvis: Confessions of a Counterfeit King" I was recruited to be a "Sweet Aspiration." It was in this band that Linda Phillips (Silver) and I found we had a good sound. This was an enjoyable experience – we treated the music seriously but not ourselves. We did some festivals and larger book singings. It was lots of fun to watch the transition of professor Bill turn into a credible Elvis. The band members were: Mike Bisdee: lead guitar Peter Kramer: rhythm guitar Lew Wardell (also in Mobile City): bass Cliff Cox: drums Jeff Thomas: sax Rev Ransom: keyboards, sax The Sweet Aspirations: Linda Phillips, Kim McPhatter, and myself.

Bo Lozoff: I was asked to sing on Bo’s “Whatever It Takes” along with Lise Uyanik and Shannon Dancy. Bo wrote many of these songs after coming out of a vowed year of silence. He and his wife Sita's work, The Prison-Ashram Project, is internationally acclaimed. Bo has a whole community of musicians that have joined with him when he makes music. Some of whom include: Armand Lencheck, Will McFarlane, Ben Palmer, Jonathan Byrd, Chris Turner, Bob Vasile, Zan McLeod, Jim Henderson, Aaron Turner, and Wes Lachot.

Silver: Linda Phillips and I formed Silver, a folk trio with percussion that performed in the NC Piedmont from 1999 through 2005. We named ourselves on a road trip coming back from an Elvis gig at the beach. We chose Silver for our hair color! Curt Stagner and Bob Mutter came on board about a year later. We never recorded as a band but the artisty of Curt, Linda, and Bob can be found on my CDs Sweet Mimosa and Indian Summer. Members: Linda Phillips: vocals, mandolin, guitar Curt Stagner: vocals, guitar Bob Mutter: all forms of percussion Myself: vocals, guitar, pennywhistle.

My Family: It has been wonderful to find willing and able singers right amongst my own family. My girls, Marielle and Christiana, are both singers. Marielle was in the UNC Women's Glee Club under the direction of Sue Klausmeyer while in school there. Now, she is a member of Women's Voices. Christiana has a more theatrical bend and has had singing roles in UNC's Pauper Productions. My sister and her six girls are also musically inclined. Often when we get together an evening will be spent in song. We enjoy the harmony our voices produce. We trust the spirit that binds us one to the other. I know the times we perform and record together produce memories that will sustain us over time. You can hear the family resemblence in our voices. It's a rarity in this world.