Maura Volante is a talented and experienced singer living in Ottawa, Ontario, with a broad range of performance experiences. Although she has explored many styles, she is essentially a tradition bearer, and her focus is traditional folk songs, mainly in English, some in French. Most of them were collected in Canada, with some from the British Isles and the U.S.A. She often sings unaccompanied but also collaborates with other musicians. Maura is passionate about traditional folk music, and enjoys bringing back into oral tradition songs that were once widely sung in Canada but have since been forgotten. She delves into folklorists’ collections, learning from the page and also from field recordings whenever possible. She believes the songs work best when sung in the traditional manner. These songs tell stories, and we hear the stories better when the presentation is simple.
Maura believes that group singing is a powerful tool for building community, and that folk songs are very well suited to this process. Folk songs are clear in their meaning and they have simple tunes and often repetitive choruses that can easily be learned orally. Maura is a strong advocate for inclusionary processes, and every performance or workshop is an opportunity for everyone in the room to be part of it. Maura creates an encouraging atmosphere, relaxed and accepting of every voice. In teaching situations, Maura focuses on strengthening the inborn abilities we all have to sing for ourselves, our families and our communities.
Maura is available for small and large groups, for performances, camps and workshops. She customizes her offerings to suit the situation, with the solid base of folk tradition unifying all her work.
Local Singing Opportunities: Ottawa Area
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 open to all. Here is a list of some of these opportunities:
Log Drive Café
Maura and partner Ranald Thurgood started up a folk coffeehouse in 2012, called The Log Drive Café and ran it for six years. It is now under the directorship of Chrissy Steinbock. This monthly Friday evening gathering features a variety of local performers doing traditional and contemporary songs. All shows welcome audience participation. The Log Drive Café has its own website: http://logdrivecafe.wordpress.com. Check it out for coming events.
Folk at the Oak
Second Sunday of each month (except July and August), 2 to 4 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. 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. 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 Folk Night
Every Wednesday evening, 7:30 to 10:30 or so
Oh So Good!, 25 York Street in the Byward Market
This started as a pub session at the Celtic Cross, and has moved a couple of times since. Its current home is a dessert restaurant but it is licensed and serves alcohol. Hosted by Kevin Dooley, this session mixes songs and tunes, with an emphasis on celtic music.
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.
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.