EDISON, NJ – The Edison Arts Society is sponsoring a free concert, open to the public at The Coffee House located on Amboy Avenue in Edison on Friday September 26th from 7 to 9 p.m.
The featured artist, Mara Levine, whose folk album Jewels and Harmony hit the number 1 spot on the folk album charts in January 2013, will be performing. Two distinctive songs from the album received recognition; “The Dutchman” and “When I Sing With You.”
Renowned folk singer, Si Kahn, added his voice to “The Dutchman.” Of their rendition of this beloved folk tune, Michael Smith, composer of the piece stated, “Mara and Si sound great together, and the interpretation is honest, sincere, and tuneful.”
Levine began performing as a folk artist fifteen years ago when she paired up with Caroline Cutroneo, who hails from Staten Island. Cutroneo will be joining Levine onstage on September 26th. The duo has performed together at numerous venues over the years, including the Minstrel Coffee House in Morristown, the Good Coffee House in Brooklyn, and the Westerly Folk Festival in Staten Island.
Also joining Levine onstage will be her fiancé, Jeff Scroggins of Jeff Scroggins and the Colorado Band. Scroggins, a national banjo champion, and his group have produced two albums, including Jeff Scroggins and the Colorado Band and Western Ranches. Specializing in Blue Grass music, Scroggins and his band will be performing at the IBMA conference in Raleigh, North Carolina at the end of September. As a touring band, they have appeared all over the country.
Scroggins and Levine met several years ago at the Max Fest Bluegrass Festival in Denver, Colorado. Levine was impressed with Scroggins' musicality and they were soon bonded through their work. Scroggins assisted Levine in her arrangement of “Blackberry Time,” which is on the Jewels and Harmony album. Of Levine's work Scroggins commented, “She has a distinctive voice and an ear for beautiful arrangements.”
One of Levine's greatest artistic strengths is her ability to select the right music to suit her pure and gentle voice. Her first album, Mara's Gems, appeared at number 52 for 2009 on the folk album charts.
Of her decision to sing in the folk genre Levine explained, “I grew up listening to folk music. It's part of who I am. My parents listened to Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, and Simon and Garfunkle.”
Levine added, “I was also greatly influenced by a group called Herdman, Hills, and Mangsmen, a trio that had exceptionally great harmony.”
Aside from singing with Cutroneo and Scroggins, Levine is part of a well respected folk group called Gathering Time, comprised of Stuart Markus, Hillary Foxsong, and Gerry McKeveney. Levine joined Gathering Time for the recording of their album Leaves That Are Green, which reached number 1 on the folk charts in October 2011. Most recently Gathering Time, including Levine, performed in Chicago on WFMT Folkstage. Upcoming performances include Indiana, Ohio, and New York.
Levine's artistic talents go beyond her singing ability. She also owns a jewelry business, which has gained prominence in the Central Jersey area. Levine designs and makes one of a kind pieces, which she sells at craft fairs and festivals throughout the United States. Levine enjoys creating bridal pieces, and her work was featured on an episode of TLC's hit show Four Weddings in February 2013. Levine points out that she incorporates the theme of her jewelry into her music.
Coming from an artistic household, Levine's parents, both members and exhibitors of the Edison Arts Society, it is no wonder that Levine is so talented. Her father, Harvey Levine, who currently has an exhibition of 21 photos on display at the East Brunswick Public Library, recently won first place as the Middlesex County Senior Artist. He will now be entered in the statewide competition as a result of this honor. The elder Levine's photography has appeared in other Edison Art Society exhibitions, including J.F. Kennedy Hospital and the Edison Municipal Building. Linda Levine, Mara's mother, has worked in a variety of medium, including pottery, fiber art, stained glass, painting, and jewelry. Linda Levine has appeared frequently at readings of her poetry at local libraries as well.
For more information on Levine's work, visit her website, which is Mara Levin. Copies of her albums can be purchased at the site. For information and album ordering of Scroggins albums, go to Jeff Scroggins and Colorado.
The Edison Arts Society, which strives to bring programs to the public in a variety of artistic forms, including dance, music, literature, and artwork, is proud of its efforts to enrich the community. For further information regarding upcoming programs or membership in the EAS, call 732-548-9134.
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