Mean Mary isn’t really so mean


Nashville’s Mean Mary James returns to White Horse Black Mountain on Friday, March 31 for a high-energy evening of traditional and original Americana.

A fine musical storyteller, Mean Mary’s life story would make a great movie. During her nomadic childhood the Florida native lived for a while off the grid in the Minnesota north woods as her family nurtured her burgeoning musical talent. A child prodigy, she could read music before she could read words, released her first album at age six and was soon entertaining audiences.

She and brother Frank would even sing and play on horseback at historical re-enactments as their career developed.

While she’s had her fair share of tumbles from horseback, one injury threatened to end her career. After a devastating car accident left her with a paralyzed right vocal cord, her indomitable spirit kept her working at recovering her singing voice until it returned to its current richness and power. That energy and persistence is evident in Mean Mary’s multifaceted career as a musician, songwriter, novelist, playwright, producer and TV personality.

Mean Mary’s sobriquet belies an upbeat, easygoing personality. The performer’s first song, co-written with her mother, was “Mean Mary from Alabam’,” and the nickname stuck. She does pick a mean banjo, along with 11 other instruments.

During her shows you might hear about the family tent being mauled by a 7-foot bear or collecting poisonous snakes.

Surely not surly

Who: Mean Mary

When: 8 p.m. March 31

Where: White Horse Black Mountain

Cost: $10 advance, $12 door