Maura Volante is a talented and experienced singer living in Ottawa, Ontario, with a broad range of performance experiences. She has written many songs and also enjoys improvisational singing, but her focus is folk songs. Maura sings mostly traditional songs from Canada, the British Isles and the U.S.A. She often sings unaccompanied but also collaborates from time to time with other musicians. Maura is available to perform this repertoire any gathering of people who would like to hear it.
Even more than filling a hall with her own voice, Maura loves to hear many voices. Her specialty is providing groups large and small with the opportunity to sing together. In her concerts and workshops, Maura creates an encouraging atmosphere, relaxed and inclusive. Maura also teaches groups and individuals, focusing on strengthening the inborn abilities we all have to sing for our own enjoyment and the building of community.
Maura and partner Ranald Thurgood started up a folk coffeehouse in 2012, called The Log Drive Café at the Abbotsford House Recreation Centre at 905 Bank Street. This occasional Friday evening gathering features a variety of local performers doing traditional and contemporary songs. All shows welcome audience participation. The Log Drive Café now has its own website: http://logdrivecafe.wordpress.com. Check it out for coming events.
In addition to the Log Drive Café, there are more opportunities than ever in and around Ottawa for those who love folk music. Maura participates in many informal folk singing events which are free and open to all. Here is a list of some of these opportunities:
First and Third Fridays of each month in various homes
This is a friendly and inclusive gathering. We start with an optional potluck dinner at 6:30, followed by singing from about 7:30 to 11:00 pm. We go around the circle of those present. When it is your turn you may sing a song alone, lead a song others can sing with you, request a song or pass. You don’t have to know your songs, though it helps if you have sung them before. Lyric sheets and songbooks are used by some. Instruments are also welcome though not required. Any kind of song is allowed, but most of the songs you will hear are folk songs and older pop songs. If you contact Maura she will get your name added to the email list so you will receive information before each songcircle with the name and address of the host and directions to the house.
Folk at the Oak
Second Sunday of each month, 2 to 5 pm
Royal Oak Pub by the Pretoria Bridge, upstairs
A project of the Old Sod Society (the organization that runs the contra dance series—the event is also on the ottawacontra website), this session is hosted by Neville Miller. You sign up if you want to perform and Neville will call on you. The emphasis is on traditional folk songs and there are many opportunities to sing along.
Almonte Trad Sing
Fourth Sunday of each month (except July and August), 2 to 4 pm
Barley Mow Pub, Almonte, upstairs
This session, run by David Baril, runs as a songcircle, but it differs from the Ottawa Songcircle in some ways. The emphasis is on traditional or traditional style folk songs, and people are encouraged to know their songs before they come, so lyric sheets are discouraged.
Celtic Kitchen Party
Every Wednesday, 7 to 10 pm
Celtic Cross Pub, Somerset east of Bank
Kevin Dooley hosts this session, which offers opportunities for singers and players of tunes. It is rather loose in its definition of celtic, including much music from Canada which displays some celtic ancestry: songs and tunes from Atlantic Canada and the Ottawa Valley are heard as well as Irish and Scottish material. It operates jam-style, with people jumping in as well as being called on by Kevin.
If you can’t make it to any of these sessions but want to bring participatory singing to your events, please contact Maura to facilitate singing for your group. See Singing With Maura page for more detail on how this can be organized.
Maura also teaches and calls contra dancing and simpler forms of traditional dancing suitable for all ages, often incorporating group singing into the dancing through the use of play party songs, which are sung by the whole group as they dance. See the Dance page for more details.
For a list of past performances and dances, see the Bio page.
For information about upcoming events in which Maura is singing or calling, see the Events page.
And check out the Video Links page to see and hear Maura in some of her past performances.