Originally from the prairies of canada, Wendy McNeill's
songs retain her love of wide open space and the longing that such big skies can generate.
She is a fan of underdogs, strange cats and brave hearts. these characters are often the centerpieces of her songs which she creates using looped vocals, accordion, and guitar.
She has been described as an artist that creates 'deep twisted tales' and 'wise moving music'.
In the beginning...
Mcneill's first musical memories were of her parents folk and old country records being drowned out by her older teenage siblings recordings of Pink Floyd, Supertramp, and Black Sabbath.
The first cassette that she fell in love with (around age 5) was a Dolly Parton and Porter Wagner duets album borrowed from her mother's collection. She often lulled herself to sleep with its sad songs. One of her favorites being 'Jeanie's Afraid of the Dark'. A morbid little tale of a girl who dies young.
Her favorite morning music was another of her mothers tapes -- ABBA. To this she enjoyed dancing around in her Wonder Woman costume and playing air guitar while dreaming that she was either a powerful super hero or a pop star.
Skip ahead a decade...
By high school she had developed a fondeness for 'Gothic' music and older art rock and punk bands. Sisters of Mercy, Velvet Underground, Siouxie and the Banshees, The Cure, Blondie were among those in high rotation as she experimented with photography, poetry, and contemporary dance.
She continued her dance training at an arts college where she was exposed to avant garde composers, performance artists, jazz, and musical theatre. Inspired-- she began to write sparce piano compositions for her dance pieces and to develop several multi media pieces. She lists Steve Reich, Meredith Monk, Laurie Anderson and Tom Waits as influences.
During this period Wendy paid for her education by working evenings as a bartender in a live music club. The venue had a strong singer/songwriter culture and many characters well versed in the alt- country and folk traditions. While Woodie Guthrie, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, John Prine were frequently covered there was also a wide range of original material. These surroundings fostered her own fledgling songwriting and guitar playing.
Winning a song writing competition in 1997 awarded Wendy with the opportunity to record her first album, To Whom It May Concern, as well as her first major folk festival showcase -- The Edmonton Folk Music Festival. The critics enjoyed her percussive and unusual guitar style and she was labeled as, "a captivating performer" and, "talented newcomer".
At another festival in 2001, Wendy crossed paths with a French Canadian accordionist. She promptly fell in love with the accordion and added it to her musical mix. This in combination with years of performance experience has recently led one reporter at the Calgary Folkfest 2005 to comment, "Every festival offers someone to discover, and for me that was Wendy McNeill, an Edmonton musician whose sharp-edged songs with accordion and guitar seem like dispatches from a post rock cabaret." Robert Everett-Green, The Globe and Mail July 22/05
McNeill has recorded 5 albums, contributed her music to indie films, dance and theatre productions, been showcased on numerous compilation cds, and toured extensively through North America and Europe.
She no longer dreams of being a super hero or a pop star. She still likes Dolly Parton songs and hopes to dance around in a Wonder Woman costume again someday.