"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)


I don't write much in metaphor
And I'm not too good at telling folklore,
But SomeOne keeps me writing anyway.
I'm not terribly proud of my voice
And the range I've got was not my choice,
But SomeOne keeps me singing anyway.”
- from “Anyway” by Mary Schieferstein, from the album Things on My Mind

In a world where insecurities abound, Mary Schieferstein works hard to push past her fears of inadequacy and make music. She loves to write lyrics and melodies, pouring her thoughts, her feelings, and her self into the words and the notes. In spite of feeling that her music can never measure up, Mary continues to sing the songs she's written, playing around with accompaniments while sitting in front of a keyboard or leaning over a guitar. Her music is most often classified as folk, though the best description for her work would be “indie”, as all of her recording and mixing is done at her home and she does all of the artwork for her albums herself.

Mary's debut album, Things on My Mind, features songs written during her senior year of high school (2010). Many of these songs are the outpouring of her fears and insecurities as she struggled with leaving behind her friends from high school and moving into an uncertain future. A few, however, stem from quiet reflections on everyday blessings. Together, the ten carefully selected tracks provide a glimpse into Mary's thoughts and an introduction to her style.

I'm proud of Things on My Mind,” says Mary. “It was a great learning experience for me. I feel that I gained a better understanding of what really goes into making an album. It was also a wonderful opportunity to share the songs I'd been pouring my heart into.”

Mary's second project, an EP entitled Pour: Songs of Rain and Rivers, includes five tracks, most of which were written in 2011. The accompaniments are more intricate than most featured on the debut album, and the lyrics show some improvement as well.

Pour was an exciting project for me,” the singer-songwriter commented. “I had the opportunity to record some songs that I felt were better than those I recorded on my first album. I also ventured into the world of multiple vocal parts. 'With Me' has an important background vocal part near the end, and 'Peace Like a River' has harmony vocals throughout most of the verses. I also put a lot more work into recording the tracks for this EP than I put into recording the tracks for my album. Unfortunately, there is a down side: my breath support isn't as good on this project because I'm kind of 'out of practice'. It's one of the downsides of living in a dorm - people don't take too kindly to others doing vocal exercises while they're trying to sleep. I caught it too late to do better on Pour. Overall, though, I'm very happy with what I accomplished, and, as my worst critic, I'm glad to say that out of the five songs on this EP, I am pretty happy with three of them, whereas on my first album, I was happy with maybe two of the ten.”

Since then, Mary has been working hard on her third project, Masterpiece.

“I started working on Masterpiece in 2011, at the same time I was finishing up Pour," she states. "It took me a year and a half to get it all put together! The spring of 2011, God was bringing into my life over and over again the idea that we are His masterpiece. This comes from Ephesians 2:10. The word that most translations render 'workmanship' is 'poiema' in Greek. That is where we get the word 'poem' - we are God's poetry! The New Living Translation comes right out and translates it as 'masterpiece' - not just a work of God, but God's masterpiece. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around it. I still do. Needless to say, it was on my mind a lot, which led to a lot of songs about my exploration of the topic. I knew then what the theme of my next CD would be. The summer of 2011, a friend helped me select songs for the project. Of the twelve tracks, she picked ten of them. I think that really helped, because she picked songs that I would never have chosen, but others have told me are really good. The other two I added because I'd written them around the same theme. I spent the next year working on accompaniments, an entire summer trying to improve my breath support and get everything recorded . . . when school started again, I still had to do the cover art and get two flute parts recorded. I think we finished recording in October or November. By the time it all got mixed, it was too close to Christmas for a 2012 release.”

This project has been filled with interesting moments.

“I had my friend take pictures of me in work clothes covered in paint," she recalls. "I wanted to show that this is messy - that we are messy - but God knows who He's making us into. He still looks at us and calls us 'Masterpiece'.”
Although the project took a long time, it was magical to see it all come together.

“I remember listening to 'Song That You Sing' while Dad was working on mixing it. To this day, it's one of the only recordings from Masterpiece that I've heard in its entirety. I usually hate listening to myself sing, since I know what all of my mistakes were." She explains, "This time, instead of being uncomfortable listening, I was just amazed. I'd never heard the piano, the vocals, and the flute part all together. To hear how it all fit even better than I'd thought it would was just amazing!”

At this point, Mary's not entirely sure what the future will hold, but she has some idea.

“It's as if I've fallen in love with this, and that love grows deeper every day,” she states. “I just can't stop making music. It doesn't matter what anyone says, it doesn't matter how bad I think I am. I. Can't. Stop. I don't know where that's going to take me. I don't know where God wants me to take it. I think He's telling me to go. I think He's telling me to take it to the world. And, honestly, I'm scared. But I shouldn't be. He knows what He's doing. It's a new kind of Safe.”

So what is she planning next?.

“I'm hoping to have the opportunity to travel a bit with my music," says the artist. "I've never given a concert, only done special music in a couple of places. I'd love to do special music for various churches in my area, or even give a concert, if someone would be willing to have me. I'd be thrilled to use those opportunities to spread awareness about human trafficking. I'd love to do some recording in a studio, too. I have a Christmas song that I think I'd like to try to get on the radio, if I could get a studio recording of that. I know someone who has a studio, but, no matter what I do, it's going to cost money. That's the main obstacle at this point. If I make money off of Masterpiece, that'll be used toward a studio recording. If I don't, I probably won't do a studio recording. So, as I said, I'm hoping, I'd like to, but, really, I don't know if any of that will happen. We'll have to wait and see.”

An interview with Mary about her new album can be heard here.

. . . you can say that I am not good enough,
You can say that I'm not doing things right,
You can say that I should just give up,
You can tell me it's not worth the fight,
But I'm afraid I don't know how to stop,
'Cause this is what I love.”
-from “What I Love” by Mary Schieferstein, from the album Masterpiece

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