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Reviews and Interviews for A song in her heart Mary's Debut Album

Hello friends I have added a fewof the reviews I recieved on my debut album A song in her heart and an interview with Mike Ganley of The Crooked Road .I will add more interviews when I figure out how to. Best Wishes Mary

Just read that name; now there is a singer for you!

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske Roots Magazine

Mary Kathleen Burke may be new to our ears, but it takes just one listen to fall for this raven-haired Scots-Irish vocalist.

By electing to open her debut album with the standard Black is the Colour, Burke allows listeners to become accustomed to her strong voice within a comfortable context.

Other popular numbers are included- and beautifully rendered- such as A Woman’s Heart and Ae Fond Kiss. Songs from Donovan and Iris Dement also receive generous treatments.

As satisfying as these performances are, it is on less familiar numbers that Burke comes into her own. Although she didn’t write it, A Song in her Heart is based on Burke’s experiences and life paths, and the message resonates.

Beyond the traditional numbers Burke arranged, the only song to carry her own writing credit is My Scotsman and Thee; this song is the likes of which careers are built upon. Having left Ireland and fallen for a man who will not forsake his home so that she might return to hers, Burke’s song strikes the balance between yearning lament and reflective acceptance. Staggering!

The instrumentation throughout the 14 tracks is mostly sparse and soothing, ideally complementary to Burke’s voice.

If you like the Celtic folk music, one should consider exploring A Song in Her Heart. Visit for a sampling.

Donald Teplyske is a local freelance writer who contributes a twice-monthly column on roots music. If you know a roots music event of which he should be aware, contact him at

Listen Here

On The Crooked Road this time Mike Ganley features another debutante – Mary Kathleen Burke and her album ‘A Song in Her Heart.’ Mary was raised in County Derry in Northern Ireland, but made her name on the Glasgow club scene. Check out her website at The show also includes music from the new albums from Tom Palmer and Mary McPartlan. Contact Mike with your comments at

Review by Michele Breeze Music Maker

I first listened to this CD to get the total feel of Mary's and presentation.It was a truly beautiful listen.As usual with Greentrax Recordings ,the sound ,mix and balance is totaly perfect and it is chocalate to the ears..Mary Kathleen Burke has a truly poignant and you can not only hear every word but feel every word..

The CD is a mix of traditional and recent songs accompanied by very sensitive musicians and sympathetic arrangements,not too much, not too little,just right.
I am fed up being bombarded by mountains of trash,posing as music,blaring out from every office of daily life ,Radio's passing cars ,supermarket music and the constant sound byttes emitting from every moving or static device invented by man.PHEW, I feel better now! and I feel even better for having listened to Mary's CD.

Tracks are varied ,from traditionaly arranged songs by Mary to original ones.
The CD starts with Mary's version of the evergreen"Black is the colour" which highlights clear and consise acoustic guitar playing and Mary's distinct Irish voice nice fiddle on this one as well. Going through the songs like " My true love" "Compared to you " about the beauty of Loch Lomand through a lovely version of an Eleanor Mc Evoy song " A womans heart".There is also a very tasty version of Donavans classic"Catch the wind".I think my favourite however is Mary's version of Iris Dements song " When my morning comes around" well produced with sympathetic arrangments,well played and executed.Great stuff!

You can catch Mary live in April 09 when she will be touring Britain with the legendary Irish singer Johnny Mc Evoy and after this CD I'm sure Mary will be swelling the ranks of her own fans. One to look out for !

A Song in Her Heart
Greentrax CDTRAX 321 2008

Review by Nicky Rossiter

Born in Derry and immersed in music from a young age, Mary moved to Scotland at the age of sixteen to pursue a musical career. Like most singers she served an apprenticeship in the venues big and small and soon developed a song writing talent. This talent produced a first song, ‘My Scotsman and Thee’, that is included on this her first album release.

The CD is lovely mixture old and new material. It combines traditional with contemporary and the songs of well-known writers with her own. Opening with ‘Black is the Colour’ she gives her very distinctive treatment to a sometimes over represented song that makes it sound fresh and new.

One of my many favourites on here is ‘My True Love’. Again we may be familiar with a version by Kate Rusby but listen Ms Burke for a new rendition. Burke has a knack for finding a ‘new hook’ in the familiar. Nowhere is this more evident than on ‘A Woman’s Heart’. Even the composer Eleanor McEvoy is quoted as finding this version “truly beautiful”.

‘The Home I Left Behind’ has her taking a song familiar at wakes and weddings in Ireland of the 1950’s and bringing it very deservedly to a wider audience. Intriguingly the title track by Tim O’Connor is noted as written after reading Mary’s biography. The result is a very strong and emotional song. Bridging the heady Sixties scene and the 21st century is ‘Catch the Wind’ originally a hit for Donovan but revitalised here. It’s a pity Robbie Burns couldn’t arrange some class of posthumous royalty cheque. So many of his songs are as fresh today as when he wrote them and with singers like Burke breathing new life into ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ they will go on forever.

Longing for home is a common theme in folk music and on this album it is epitomised by ‘My Scotsman & Thee’ with the tale of longing for home, visiting home but loving someone from another land. Sung here almost three decades after it was written by a 19-year-old Burke it sounds “hot off the presses”. This is an outstanding first album, even if she waited about 30 years to burst on the scene, and I look forward to many more.
Nicky Rossiter

Review by
Ken Miller

Mary K. Burke was born in Northern Ireland and went to Scotland as a teenager. After some part time singing and raising a family, she has now decided to take the plunge and record her debut album. Greentrax are renowned for finding good Celtic talent and they have struck gold yet again with Mary. While this album is not autobiographical, the sleeve notes show how Mary relates each song to some episode in her life.

So let us follow Mary’s timeline and see what we can find. 'Black is the Colour' starts the journey; a safe option perhaps but Mary immediately stamps her own style on the song and lets you know what you are in for. Moving on we get to the real heart of the album. Track 4 is Eleanor McEvoy’s marvellous 'A Woman’s Heart' sung by Mary as if it were written especially for her. Then comes 'Power and Honesty' written by Frankie Hepburn and Austin Ince who provide some of the backing on the album. Again, Mary makes this song her own and the words in the title epitomise Mary’s style. 'The Home I Left Behind' completes this trilogy and tells of her love of her native Ireland.

The title track tells you all you need to know about Mary. It gives hints about her life and her use of music to express her feelings about that life.

Donovan Leitch’s 'Catch the Wind' has never sounded this good. 'Ae Fond Kiss', another traditional song excellently done with Paul McKenna sharing the vocal duties. I could wax lyrical about each track but I will leave you to discover the treasures to be found.

With this album you get more than just a song in her heart. You get a fist full of songs sung from the heart that you allow willingly into your soul.

Review by John Ferguson of Mc Ginty

Mary Kathleen Burke is a native of Northern Ireland who moved to Scotland as a teenager and has been in music most of her adult life.Now in her fourties,she has released her first solo recording for Greentrax.
She sings in a clear ,pure voicewith just a hint of an accent from her youthful homeand its somewhat evident that her singing background is in country music.A Song in her heart has been well recievedafter only a short release periodand several of the songs are getting considerable airplay.That is probably because it is such a pleasent recording.

The song list is well chosen and she sings each song with heartfelt passion. A long list ofcollaboritive musicians help make it such a fine CD. A song in her heart is a beautiful introducory album by Mary Kathleen Burke

Mary Kathleen Burke - A Song In Her Heart (Greentrax)
Co. Derry-born but now residing in Scotland, Mary has been singing from an early age, and yet amazingly, this (a self-produced EP aside) is her debut recording. Although she plays guitar and keyboards outside of this album, the objective of said CD is to showcase Mary's vocal talent, which is considerable. Forthright, passionate and confident in tone, Mary is always sure of where she's taking a song, and she never leaves you in any doubt about her commitment to the songs and how much they mean to her.

As a collection of such songs, it's a convincing mix of recent (and mostly acknowledged classic) compositions and adaptations of traditional material, and she sings them all well and with an attractive sense of affectionate nostalgia. Especially successful, I thought, were Mary's versions of the two Frankie Hepburn songs (James and Trust), a heartfelt The Home I Left Behind, the Kate Rusby-originated (I Wonder What Is Keeping) My True Love, and her nicely-observed cover of A Woman's Heart (a hard act to follow indeed). Mary's is much the accessible contemporary-popular-folk approach: the radio-playlist-friendly mode of which is certainly very appealing, eminently tasteful rather than cutting-edge - and nothing wrong with that.

As far as I'm concerned, the musical settings here almost deserve equal billing, for they shine and surround Mary's voice with (for the most part) a restrained and yet powerful blend of acoustic instrumentation, principally based around a guitar part which is gently augmented by a further guitar line, with keyboard, flute, whistle, cello and fiddle embellishments that are perfectly judged for both the song and the singer.

The supporting cast is of uniformly high calibre, and includes fiddlers Chuck Fleming and Alastair McCulloch, accordionist Gordon McCulloch, and producer David McNee (guitars, bouzouki, piano etc.). Perhaps on some tracks Mary's professed desire to keep things simple is contradicted by the abundant richness of the settings, but if you warm to Mary's style (as I quickly did) then you'll find this less of a drawback, for her accomplishment is a real virtue. The recording - although originating at different sessions in London and Glasgow - enjoys a fine uniformity of sound, glossy but not overly so and with a keen eye for crispness of internal detailing that puts it in the classier bracket straightaway.
David Kidman March 2008

Mary Features in Reid Kerr College Publicity for Creative Arts Department .

Irish born with a passion for music, 44 year old Mary Burke has come a long way since leaving her hometown of Park in Co. Derry, Northern Ireland. With a life-long love of music and singing regularly from a very young age, Mary was also self-taught in guitar and keyboards. She took her passion for music to Scotland at the tender age of 16, where she made the decision to pursue a career in the music industry.

Mary graduated from Reid Kerr College in 2006 with a Higher National Certificate (HNC) Music, and the folk and country singer also boasts several years of personal performances as well as handling acts for a number of gigs. Mary said, "I first attended Reid Kerr in 2000 when I completed a course in Computing. My overall experience there was very positive, giving me a new lease of life and a lot of encouragement to build on my current skills."

"Seeking to expand my horizons, the move to Scotland allowed me to perform mostly Irish and Scottish traditional music where I joined an established Country band for the next 4 years. Later, when working as a solo artist, it gave me an opportunity to develop my skills within the industry and I created my first on-line country music magazine."

"Keen to develop my career not only as an artist but also within the promoting side of the business, I enrolled at Reid Kerr in 2005 to study my HNC. Studying full-time for 1 year, I covered a great range of useful subjects including Music History, Law and Recording Techniques."

"I enjoyed the practical elements of the course at Reid Kerr, particularly when we were asked to bring personal experience to our course. At that point I had been programming and directing a local music festival for a number of years and this allowed me to integrate my knowledge and experience of the event into my course work. This was a great way to showcase my abilities as a promoter as well as a performer."

Working hard for many years and patiently awaiting that big break, Mary was thrilled in 2007 when she signed a three year licensing contract with Greetrax the leading label in Scotland for her Genre. Mary produced a five track EP and sent it to Greentrax who offered her the contract the following week! She said, "My Album, 'A Song In Her Heart', has just been released and finally hit the shelves of all good record stores around the country in February 2008."

"Twenty years on after writing my first song, I feel excited and nervous, although it is very rewarding to get to this stage in my career. I am delighted with the final results of the album, it sounds fantastic. I am currently preparing to tour Britain this year, supporting legendary Irish singer songwriter Johnny McEvoy. Have been asked to support Donnie Munro at Tait Hall in Kelso on 25th July and there is a 5 day promo tour of Ireland being organised for Early april I will be doing 5 concerts in Theatres with a band from Dublin and also doing a series of magazine and radio interviews there.

"Currently things are going well, although it's been a long haul and what I learned on my course at Reid Kerr has come in very handy indeed and helped me cope with all the demands made on me. I have had to negotiate contracts both publishing and licensing and make some very important decisions regarding my Career. Greentrax have been very supportive indeed and they love the album. I am now on the publicity trail and have an agent in Ireland getting Airplay on 60 stations and planning a Tour of Ireland for me." legendary Irish of Britain Next year

"I think my year at Reid Kerr helped me develop even further as an artist and gave me the confidence and ability to go a step further. I already feel as though I am reaping the rewards from what I learned at College and heading in the right direction with some of the best knowledge and experience to carry my career forward."

Following the release of her debut album this year, Mary's incredible rise to fame was given a further boost when she was recently asked to record a song for an episode of the US smash hit TV show, 'Desperate Housewives'. Mary was invited to sing on the track which may appear in the background of a future episode. however it has been pitched to a feature film also part of which is to be filmed in Ireland, one of Mary's lecturers at Reid Kerr has been tracking her success and said, "An inspiring singer with a truly beautiful voice, Mary Burke is making a huge impression on the industry and has a bright and prosperous future ahead of her."

A song in her heart -(or Mary Queen of Scotland)

This is my review of "A song in her heart" by Mary Kathleen Burke (or Mary Queen of Scotland, as I call her).

I fell deeply in love with Mary's voice the moment I heard it. It's a pure voice full of life, vulnerability, and sweet sadness. Her voice is traditional yet comtemporary, her style traditional Irish yet closely related to what we in the states call Americana. Call it what you will.... I call Mary's music Gorgeous!

Today my copy of " A Song in her Heart" arrived in the mail. I immediately downloaded the cd into my portable MP3 player, so I could drive around Hollywood and listen to the album from start to finish.... with 14 tracks the album is packed with A+ material....... Mary only wrote one of the songs , but she interprets this mixture of traditional folks songs and comtemporary songs so well, that it is hard to imagine anyone singing them besides Mary.

The sequence of the songs took me on a journey and when I got to my final destination and the final note, I was overcome............

I get in my car and turn onto Sunset Boulevard, the normally sunny sky is overcast and rain is falling lightly on my window shield..... appropriate weather I think, as i listen to this album from Scotland..... Mary starts the album with the traditional song "Black is the colour (of my true loves hair)", a song I have heard many versions of over the years, yet Mary brings it fresh to my ears........ I smile as I listen and drive through the California mist. I look up into the Hollywood hills above me and the second songs starts playing. Its a traditional song I have never heard before called "My True Love". Mary sings it so sweetly...... the touches of ache around the edges makes me feel as if I've known this song for a very long time....... With the mix of fiddle, piano and acoustic guitar its a lovely tune that pleases my ears and touches my heart......

As I pull into a gas station the third song comes on.. the song is called "Compared to you"..... I sit in the car at the gas pump, I am stopped......unable to move....... Tranfixed by this combination of Voice & Song, I begin to weep, Damn it Mary! Its only the third track and you have me crying like a newborn already........ I wait for the track to finish put the player on pause, compose myself , get out, pump my gas and return to the roads.......

Now I am on Hollywood Boulevard just blocks away from a place where something very tragic happened...... The very worst thing I have ever experienced...... not quite two years have passed......... "Compared to you" indeed, I think to myself........ "Rest Now, Sweet Angel" I say to the sky.......

The next song comes on and its a song I know well called "A Woman's heart". I originally heard Mary Black and Emmylou Harris duet on this song........ Emmylou is my Queen of Queens, and somehow even if its just for a moment Mary makes me forget Emmylou (Now thats something!)........ following this song comes another great song called "Power and Honesty" Mary's voice soars and soothes, her phrasing on this song is spectacular!!!! its a beautiful song........... one of the lines goes:

"If they ever feel the pain that brings them to the floor, I'll take it all, if I can...... until they hurt no more....... I find power in their honesty".......

The next song is a traditional song called "The Home I left behind" a song mary's mother used to sing to her when she was a child. With its theme of someone leaving home for a far off place, I feel deeply connected with this song and its one of the songs that makes me feel a kinship with Mary........ a woman I only know through song and cyberspace....

Damn you woman! I think to myself, this object of my affection, I feel so close to her, listening to this cd. Yet, I have a feeling my Mistress has a million other loves who will discover her charms and take her from me........ Lift her up and crown her Mary Queen of Scotland (though she is an Irish gal by birth and by heart).........

The next song comes on.... its called "James" and Mary dedicated it to her son, by the same name.........

One gets the feeling from her music, that Mary has gone down, hit rock bottom and then has risen victoriously to the suface......

I get the feeling this is not an album made by a victim, its an album made by a Victor, who has triumphed over adversity. You can hear it in her vocals..............

There is nothing ground breaking about this album....... though the musicianship is excellent , the song choice stellar and Mary has a great voice , but so do a dozen other Irish divas.......

What makes this album EXTRAORDINARY to me is the vulnerablility in the vocals and the loving care of the selection of the material.... Bravely Mary peels off her protective layer and presents these songs with honest dignity. If one of the songs were chosen for "commercial" reasons , I don't know which one it would be... I get the feeling this song cycle was chosen as if it was a life and death decision...... How painstaking it most have been to find the exact order of these songs.........

I could go on and on about this album, but I am going to jump forward a bit...... The next to last song on the cd is called "When my Morning comes" written by the amazing Iris Dement......... If you listen close to Mary you can hear a bit of Iris in there.... Makes me wonder what they would sound like together......

The rain is still falling, I turn onto Gower as the final song comes on....... Its called "Give me time" and from the first note it grabs hold of me. I have heard this recording before , but listening to it in the context of the album the song hits me like a ton of bricks...........

I listen to the lyrics:

"give me time , give me patience, give me reason, give me rhyme. Lost at sea , lost my presence, lost salvation , lost my mind..... Hard to breath, in this prison, hard to see you, I am blind, many roads I have walked on , I don't know if one is right.......

So goes the song and so goes my composure, as I pull into the parking space, I am overcome, once again I start to weep, and weep and weep...... the cd comes to an end and I sit there in silence and I think "Damn you woman, you have given me a gift of unbearable beauty"...........................

I compose myself and I head into the gym. I decide to listen to the album again as I work out........So with headphones on I go about my workout....... Then several songs into the second listen in the middle of the gym as sweat rolls down the bodies around me, tears well up then over flow and roll down my cheeks.... I feel the ground start to move "thats funny" I think to myself "I'm not on the stairmaster?????" ...... EARTHQUAKE !!!!!!! I run toward the exit........ I am the only one running for the door , everyone around me goes about their workout! the emotion builds as I run toward the exit. trying to hold back a tidalwave........... I make it to the parking lot.... I start to weep......weep some more........then I start sobbing........ and sobbing.....and sobbing...... "Such Beauty" I think to myself....... "Such unbearable beauty"......"Damn you Mary Queen of Scotland!!!!!! I 'll get you for this "............The end.......

RJ Chesney Music Critic Calafornia

A REVIEW BY CHRIS HOLMES Author & Journalist

"I was a bit tearful when I heard the playback of the song I wrote when I was 19 and homesick" said Mary Kathleen Burke, during the recording of her album, a mixture of self-penned material and "other songs"; the latter including an outstanding interpretation of Donavan's 'Catch The Wind'.

Sometimes a songwriter can be too smart for their own good, but this singer and musician knows when to keep it simple. The technical ability on guitar is as clear as the voice. But rhythm, harmony and lyrics don't need to show off, and here is the proof.

There is a positive wave of romance throughout the album. 'James' has a hint of Paris about it. 'Give Me Time' is undeniably and hypnotically 'Celtic', whilst the track 'My Scotsman and Thee' deals with the perennial 'Exile' theme of many an Irish ballad, but with raw honesty and a twist in the tale.

The romantic spirit coursing through this album never threatens to rise up and swamp the songs. There is a much subtler groove at work, with some remarkable outside contributions.

Chuck Fleming – widely known from the days of the JSD Band – has always been a highly respected fiddle player. Now based in Durham, he hopped back over the border for a while, in order to add his own bit of unique magic to the brew. With the support of musicians of this calibre, there are interesting times ahead for Mary Kathleen Burke.

Following the release of the album there will be a tour of concert halls, supporting the legendary Irish singer and songwriter Johnny McEvoy, due to commence in Oct 2008.

As Bob Dylan once sang, "Things Have Changed", a satire on cynicism and a weary modern update on his hopeful "The Times They Are A-Changin'". But Mary Kathleen Burke is singing to a different tune. She stands as an example of how paying your dues - a weary cliché in these days of instant 'celebrity' status - brings its own rewards, but only if you have the talent to accompany the effort. And perhaps the love of and need for music has more than a little to do with it all.

Mary Kathleen Burke hails from Park, County Derry, but has lived in Glasgow since she ventured forth at the age of 16 to pursue an always uncertain career as a singer and songwriter. But she is well-aware of the importance of her early musical background in Northern Ireland. By the age of 15 she had learned keyboards and guitar, and played with a country band: "We were awful," says Mary, "but somehow we got gigs." When Christopher Logue – now part of the duo Logue and McCool - joined the band, things improved dramatically.

Mary acknowledges this background, without being chained to it. As a solo performer (under the stage name Tanya), her repertoire consisted largely of traditional Irish and Scots folk music. In 1994 she joined the already established country band 'Nevada', before leaving after four years to form her own band 'Tanya and Sneaky Moon'. She later returned to solo performances, with sets consisting largely of traditional and contemporary folk and country music, sometimes in the support slot for such names as Sean Cannon of 'The Dubliners' and Nashville's own Bob Cheevers.

Eventually, a Licencing deal came up. Greentrax – described by 'Roots' magazine as "the undisputed frontrunner amongst Scottish labels" – boasts a stable including Donnie Munro, Skye based singer and songwriter of 'Runrig' fame, who signed up in 2006. The label, founded in 1986, has become the major player in the development of an indigenous music industry. The Scottish music scene is currently replete with talent and no small number of Irish 'exiles' are making their own vital contribution to this spirited community. Mary Kathleen Burke knows about 'The Long Way Home', but is living proof that 'A Woman's Heart' beats strong.


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