Mary Beth Waldram has built a career in the music industry for the past thirteen years after graduating from Memorial University's School of Music and NSCC's Music Business Program. She has had a hand in organizing and supervising small to large-scale events including Halifax Pop Explosion, The Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival, and the Lawnya Vawnya Festival. Hot off the heels of being named Music NL's Industry Professional of the Year for 2022, Mary Beth has proven her qualifications for such an award through her lengthy list of credentials: Director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival, Logistics Coordinator for the Lawnya Vawnya Festival, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for Music NL, and most recently the Production Manager for Laughing Hearts Music Records, which is an award winning Atlantic Canadian Record Label based in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. To top it all off, Mary Beth is also the owner of Bakeapple Productions; a company that helps musicians with grant writing, artist management, bookings, tour organization, and social media & marketing. Did we forget to mention that she's also a professionally trained clarinetist?
- Tell me about yourself, who is Mary Beth Waldram and what do you do?
Hahaha who am I? I love this but it also reminds me of Alice in Wonderland. WHO are you??? I am a music industry professional in St. John's, Newfoundland. Events are my main passion and I also manage bands, book tours, do grant writing, and play music - which is how I started in the industry.
- Did you always aspire to be involved in the music industry? Or did you have dreams to do something else as a kid?
No, I came to the music industry in a funny way. As a kid I wanted to be a social butterfly (according to my mom) and switched careers every year. I always loved music. I played music in school and in a cadet band in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but like most 90's kids, going to university was a must. My cadet music instructor told me to apply to MUN. So, I applied to the MUN Music School and got accepted. After university I went back to Nova Scotia for a year and a half and did the NSCC Music Business Program and volunteered with many events and festivals. I moved back to Newfoundland after that and worked at the MUN School of Music for 3 1/2 years. After that I started off on a long journey of self employment and working part time to full time in bars. Slowly over the course of 7 years, I finally made it to where I was able to work full time in the music industry and not have a second job.
- How have your life experiences influenced your work?
My life experiences have greatly influenced my work. Not sure how in depth I'd like to get here. But my biggest life experience was seeing how much my mother influenced everyone. I always go back to this thought of “if I could be half the woman she was then I would be happy.” So, her influence is always at the forefront of 50% of my decisions. The other 50% is my other life experiences.
- You've been nominated for some amazing awards this year including ECMA Artist Management of The Year and long listed for Women In Music Canada, which celebrates and supports female identifying Canadian innovators and creators that have had outstanding success in their field. How do you stay grounded as your success continues to evolve?
Honestly, I'm pretty overwhelmed by these awards. It's amazing and I am beyond grateful but I still feel like I could be working harder, doing more. I'm a big believer in a work life balance but sometimes I feel like I could be working harder! I think Newfoundland & Labrador, as a whole, keeps me grounded. I don't want to live or work anywhere else. I don't want to go to a bigger city. Here is home and I love it and am just grateful for being able to have a successful career and stay in a place I am in love with.
- What are some community projects, events, or groups you are involved with now?
SO MANY! Lawnya Vawnya, Newfoundland & Labrador Folk festival, Laughing Heart Music (LHM Records), Silver Wolf Band, Music NL Board of Directors, and I also do lots of grant writing and consultations for artists in town.
- What do you want the community to know?
- Tell us something we don’t know about you!
Hmm, I am an open book. Sometimes it's a flaw. Most people know if you ask me a question you will get an honest answer. So, I think most people know my secrets. I wish I could be more mysterious.
- What is your favorite thing to do in your downtime?
I love to bake. That is my hobby outside of music. Putting a record on, having a glass of wine, and baking bagels. And hanging with my cats!
- There is a famous quote "Fashion is like a good meal, a good movie, and great pieces of music.” It’s pretty clear that you adore the art of music, and we adore the art of fashion. Do you feel that the two go hand in hand? (If yes, can you speak to how you feel art of all forms inspires your work?)
I feel like the two go completely hand in hand. I think in today's society with social media, etc., it is a big part of an artist's personality. Fashion is often considered a part of someone because it’s how the public sees you. Both are expressions of who someone is. Like other forms of art, it's all an expression.
- How would you describe your personal fashion style?
Mine is all over the place. One day I'll be wearing a suit, the next a short black dress, another a woods jacket and jeans. The biggest thing about my personal style is how I feel. I refuse to put on an outfit for the sake of it. I need to be feeling it. I do love black though. It's the best color.
- Newfoundland has a vibrant arts community; from musicians and songwriters, to dancers and painters, authors and actors, and every form of craft in between. Johnny Ruth tries to show continued support by carrying numerous pieces and forms of art designed and/or manufactured by both local and Canadian artists and has monthly live Artist Showcases in our shop window. How important do you think it is for the community to support local arts and local businesses that support the arts?
I think it's extremely important to shop and support local businesses. We are a community and we cannot survive without community. Supporting and shopping local is essential to having a vibrant community and downtown area.
- What’s your favorite thing about Johnny Ruth?
The atmosphere and how comfortable it is to shop there; the variety. My personal favorites are the cards, journals, and funny magnets.
- You are on a deserted island, what 3 items do you have?
IPod & charger
- What’s the next place on your travel bucket list?
Personally, Iceland has been super high on my list. Work wise I'll be hopefully heading to Spain in the Fall.
- What’s the one item you can’t live without?
Anything that plays music. I wake up to music, go to bed and listen to an album. I walk around the streets of a new city with a soundtrack in my ears. So, a music player.
- Why do you choose to call Newfoundland and Labrador home?
I will try to make this answer short but it's complicated and involves a bit more about myself. I was bullied my entire young life. To the point where I never left my house or a classroom until later in my school career when I started sticking up for myself. I remember stepping off the plane in Newfoundland for university and instantly feeling like something was right. I couldn't pinpoint what it was. Just a feeling. I felt like an outcast my whole life and Newfoundland welcomed me, my weirdness, everything about me. It let me grow, continues to let me grow, and has never held me back. Like any other city or province, it comes with challenges. But there are more pros than cons and I truly love everything about this province that I now call home after 16 years. I did try to move twice from here, but every time I left, everything felt wrong. I felt wrong. So here I am 16 years later still madly in love with this province. EVEN the weather.
- What's the most rewarding part of your career path?
Helping artists, putting off great events. I love being at concerts where I work, walking around and people watching and seeing joy on someone's face or singing along to whatever band is on. That brings such immense joy. But seeing artists succeed is the biggest reward. Oh, and still getting to play music! I never thought that would happen again after music school and now I'm playing again. That is also incredibly rewarding.
- Your career path is one of great inspiration here, as being successful in the business of music, as a woman, on a rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, is no small feat. What advice might you have for any women that might be interested in pursuing a career like you have fostered?
I think a good starting point is thinking about what success means to you. Of course, this is allowed to change and WILL change, but having a general thought of, what am I working towards? What does success mean to me? Is it moving away and working for a bigger company? Is it working only part time in the industry? For me the biggest thing was being able to stay in Newfoundland. That is non-negotiable. So, for me personally I am where I want to be and that is my success.
It's okay to rest!!! This life can be a short one, full of beautiful moments outside the industry, so don't forget to enjoy those as well, as sometimes it can be an all consuming industry. Take risks, be brave, and don't give up. Make mistakes because that's how you learn and if you feel like you need some guidance, reach out.