By Linda Sickler
From the time she was a child in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Ruth Moody has considered music to be an essential part of life.
Moody, who will perform in concert Dec. 3 at the Lucas Theatre, had a good instructor. “My mum is a music teacher,” she said. “We all sang and played together as a family when we were kids.
“She teaches Orff, so there were always xylophones and recorders and percussion instruments lying around,” Moody said. “We sang rounds in the car to pass the time on road trips.”
A trained classical pianist, Moody’s mother played for her daughters as they danced around the living room, where she also gave them their first piano lessons. “My dad sang in the opera chorus, so there was always opera streaming from his den,” Moody said. “Or jazz, which he loved to listen to.
“Music was just a normal part of life,” she said. “I feel very lucky.”
But because music was such a normal part of life, Moody didn’t realize how talented she was. “In fact, I worried sometimes when I was young that I wasn’t as good as my siblings because they all became such amazing instrumentalists,” she said.
“But I always knew that singing was a very important part of who I was,” Moody said. “It’s the thing that always felt ‘right’ somehow.”
As a teenager, Moody began exploring different kinds of music, including traditional Celtic music. “It was that connection to traditional and folk music that eventually led me to join my first band and start writing songs,” she said.
From the start, Moody knew she wouldn’t be an opera singer. “My voice was much more delicate and pure,” she said. “There are many things one can do with a non-operatic voice, but for some reason it was folk music and traditional music that really spoke to me.”
Moody taught herself to play the bodhran when she joined the roots group Scruj MacDuhk. “Later on, I taught myself the guitar and, with the help of a few starter lessons, clawhammer banjo, as well,” she said. “The accordion was a natural transition from the piano.”
Later, Moody founded The Wailin’ Jennys. “Scruj was breaking up and I decided I wanted to sing with women again,” she said. “I grew up singing with my two sisters, and missed that.
“I approached Nicky Mehta and Cara Luft, both prominent singer/songwriters in the Winnipeg music scene at the time, and asked them if they’d be up for doing some singing and playing together and putting on a show,” Moody said.
“That show turned into two sold-out shows and soon we were touring across Canada,” she said. “We just followed the momentum and the magic that always seemed to be there from the start.”
Moody loves performing. “The audience helps, too, of course,” she said. “Obviously it is an exciting thing to be able to share your songs and your voice with people who want to listen. There is nothing like it. It is a gift to be one part of that exchange and I appreciate it so much.”
Some of Moody’s songs come from her emotions. “Mostly I try and channel whatever it is that is speaking and try not to get in the way,” she said. “Although once that initial stage is over, I do love to go in with the editing side of my brain and play around with it like a puzzle.”
Moody loves writing, recording and performing equally. “I love writing because I am an introvert and it’s private introspective time that I really cherish,” she said.
“It’s odd that I like performing as much as I do, but I enjoy the challenge and I love connecting with people through music,” Moody said. “I am a studio junkie, I love recording because I’m a bit of a perfectionist and it allows me to try different things and refine what it is I want to express with my voice or convey in a song. I learn a lot about myself in the studio.”
In Savannah, Moody will play songs from her album, “The Garden,” as well as Wailin’ Jennys hits and some new covers. “I will have an amazing band with me — Adrian Dolan on fiddle, mandolin, viola and Mandola; Adam Dobres on electric and acoustic guitar and ukulele; and Sam Howard on bass,” she said. “The boys are singing with me more and more, too, so there will be lots of harmonies.”