Musician Mo Kenny has a lot to be thankful for
Article: Liam Fitz-Gerald – Contributor
Morgan “Mo” Kenney is definitely a young artist that folk and indie music fans should keep an eye on. At 23, the Nova Scotia musician has recorded an album and toured with several acts including Canadian music icons Ron Sexsmith and Joel Plaskett. The latter has been especially important to Kenney as he helped her launch her career.
It was 2007 and Kenney was recording at a Halifax school. Plaskett was in the school, liked Kenney’s sound and decided to take her under his wing. Three years later, Kenney received a call from Plaskett’s manager, and was invited to a sound camp.
“She called me on my twentieth birthday … I heard the message and I couldn’t believe it,” Kenney said. When she asked Plaskett’s manager how she heard of her, Kenney was told Plaskett had recommended her.
In 2011, both musicians collaborated and produced Kenney’s self-titled album. Since then, Kenney has won the 2013 SOCAN Song-writing Prize Award as well as the Ottawa Galaxy Supernova Award. She has also been nominated for prestigious awards like the East Coast’s Music Award’s Rising Star Recording of the Year.
Last Tuesday, Kenney played at the Artful Dodger in Regina. After Andy Schauf’s opening set, Kenney walked on stage with her band mates. She opened with her finger picking-good tune “The Great Escape.” When the drums kicked in, and Kenney’s soloing started, it was clear that the audience was in for a good show.
Kenney played her more known songs “Déjà vu”, “Sucker”, and “The Happy Song” but also showed off some new material and played some cover songs, paying tribute not just to Joel Plaskett but David Bowie.
On stage, Kenney interacts with her audience very well. Not only does she entertain them with music, but humour. At one point, she introduced a song she hadn’t quite thought of a title for, but invited suggestions from the audience proposing if they had “any suggestions, [they could] write it on a $20 bill.” After the concert, Kenney sat down for a longer chat.
Kenney remarked that she was very pleased with how her cross-country tour was going and how pleased she was to be on the road with her band mates. She heaped enormous praise on them for their talents and mentioned how grateful she was to have them with her.
When asked about some of her inspirations for her music, Kenney mentioned she had many.
“It’s a combination of not any one thing really. I don’t know where it comes from,” she said. However, musically she discussed artists who left a mark on her. Elliott Smith was a huge influence on her, and it was his music that led her to try finger picking. Film sound tracks have influenced her, especially those of Wes Anderson.
Kenney’s stage presence wouldn’t have suggested that she once suffered from stage fright.
“It’s something that everyone freaks out about, standing in front of a group of people and having to talk and sing in front of them. Not a lot of people can do that without getting nervous. I didn’t like being the centre of attention at first. I got over that pretty quickly because I love being on stage. I played guitar in front of people, but singing was different. Now I love it, performing and singing music.”
Kenney says that overcoming stage fright is something anyone can do. Like everything else, it just takes practice.
Kenney is grateful for the support of friends and family back home. Her friends have been thrilled over her success, as well as her family. Kenney says her mother wishes she would be home more, but is very proud of her daughter for her success.
On winning the SOCAN and Galaxy Awards, Kenney says, “this year has been pretty awesome. I’m so lucky, all these things that keep happening to me make me feel like I’m on the right track.”
Kenney is heading back to the studio in November to record new material. Plaskett has a new studio and Kenney is thrilled to work with him again.
“I love working with [Plaskett]. I’ve been a fan of his since I’ve been a teenager. To work with him was incredible, especially on my very first album. It was my very first real studio experience. He is so talented as a musician, [and] as a producer. It is really inspiring working with him.”
If everything works out, Kenney will release another record in 2013.
Kenney hopes to play at the University of Regina at some point. If she ever has an opportunity to do so, she will. If she does, she’ll find a warm and hospitable audience.