Ruth Moody is a two-time Juno Award winning singer-songwriter from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Founding member of the internationally renowned, Billboard-charting trio The Wailin’ Jennys, and former lead singer of the Canadian roots band Scruj MacDuhk, she has performed in sold-out venues around the world, made numerous critically-acclaimed albums, received five Juno awards nominations, and has appeared more than a dozen times on the American national radio show A Prairie Home Companion.
Although best known for her work with The Wailin’ Jennys, Ruth is an artist of exceptional depth and grace in her own right. Critics have lauded her ethereal vocals, impressive multi-instrumentalism, and her talent as a songwriter. Written with a maturity and wisdom that belies her age, her songs are timeless, universal, and carefully crafted, all sung with an intimacy and honesty that is unmistakably her own.
In 2010, Ruth released her first solo album, The Garden, to rave reviews. Produced by David Travers-Smith, it was nominated for two Juno awards, a Western Canadian Music Award and three Canadian Folk Music Awards. Its title track was the fourth most played song of 2010 on North American Folk Radio.
These Wilder Things, the highly anticipated follow-up to the Garden, is slated for release in April 2013. Once again produced by Travers-Smith, it features guest appearances by Mark Knopfler, Jerry Douglas, Aoife O’Donovan, Mike McGoldrick, John McCusker, and The Wailin’ Jennys.
Ruth has been recognized by the USA Songwriting Competition and the International Songwriting Competition for several of her compositions, including ‘One Voice’, which has gone on to be a signature song for The Wailin’ Jennys. It has been covered by countless artists and sung in concert halls, churches and schools throughout the world. Her song ‘Storm Comin’’, from the Jennys’ latest album Bright Morning Stars, recently won first place in the gospel category at the International Songwriting Competition.
Ruth recently showcased at SXSW in Austin, Texas, toured as the featured guest with ‘A Christmas Celtic Sojourn’ in New England in 2011, and toured through the UK and Ireland with the prestigious ‘Transatlantic Sessions’ in February 2012 (as part of ‘Celtic Connections’ in Glasgow, Scotland). She also recently completed a tour through Ontario, Canada, with the CBC’s The Vinyl Café. She continues to perform around the world with her own band as well as with The Wailin’ Jennys. In May and June she and her band will open for Mark Knopfler in England, France, and the Netherlands.
Australian born, Ruth grew up on the Canadian prairies, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She comes from a musical family and has been singing, playing, and performing since she was a child. Her mother a music teacher and orff-specialist, and her father an English teacher with a passion for Shakespeare, it is no wonder Ruth ended up a professional singer-songwriter who spends most of her time on the stage.
Like her siblings, violist Richard (The Bills), violinist Rachel (Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra) and cellist/psychiatrist Jane (keeping the family sane), she was trained classically, beginning with piano lessons at the age of four. Unlike the rest of her family, she was never drawn to learn a stringed instrument, and when she reached her mid-teens and found herself the odd-one out, she decided to study voice instead. Somewhere along the way she discovered a passion for folk and traditional music, and while still interested in the classical side of voice training, she built up a repertoire of folk songs. She was particularly drawn to Irish and Scottish songs, and learned to sing them in the ‘Sean nos’ style. It was this love and affinity for the Celtic tradition that eventually led her to decide on a career in folk music.
In 1996, after 3 years at university studying English and French literature and a year’s pilgrimage to her ‘home-land’ of Australia, Ruth abandoned the practical idea of becoming a teacher and turned to her growing interest in folk music Serendipitously, she discovered elementary school play-mate, Leonard Podolak, living across the street, and within weeks she was jamming with the boys from celtic/roots band Scruj MacDuhk. In March, 1997, she officially joined the band and her widely-praised vocals became a prominent feature in the group’s sound. She spent five years as their lead singer, playing theatres, folk clubs, and folk festivals across Canada, the United States and Europe. The band’s studio album, ‘The Road to Canso’, was nominated for a Juno for best roots and traditional album of 1999, and earned two Prairie Music Awards for outstanding roots recording and outstanding independent release of 1999.
In 2001, Scruj MacDuhk broke up and Ruth began focusing on writing songs. She taught herself to play the guitar and quickly initiated a new project: a collaboration with fellow Winnipeg singer-songwriters Nicky Mehta and Cara Luft. In January 2002, they took the stage as The Wailin’ Jennys, and soon became one of the most sought-after bands on the Canadian Folk scene. In 2004, they released their first full-length album, ’40 Days’, on Jericho Beach Records in Canada, Red House Records in the United States and Europe, and Shock Records in Australia. It earned multiple awards, including a Juno for best roots and traditional album of 2004. In 2006 The Jennys rejoined forces with ’40 Days’ producer David Travers-Smith and released ‘Firecracker’, which received international critical acclaim and multiple nominations and awards, including a Juno nomination for best roots and traditional album of 2006 and the North American Folk Alliance Award for best contemporary release of 2006. The Jennys, now Ruth Moody, Nicky Mehta, and New York-based Heather Masse, with Jeremy Penner on fiddle and mandolin, continue to tour and captivate audiences around the world. They have recently released ’Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House’ (Outside Music/Red House Records/Shock Records), and will be releasing their brand new studio album this coming fall.
Thought of by many as ‘the Soprano Jenny with the ethereal voice’, Ruth is becoming known first and foremost as a singer-songwriter, with her compositions being described as ‘divine’ (Roddey Campbell, Penguin Eggs), ‘classically elegant’ (Patrick Langston, Sing Out!) and ‘quietly mesmerizing and sensuous’ (Direct Current Music). She was one of ten finalists in the folk category of the 2004 USA Songwriting Competition and a semi-finalist in the 2005 International Songwriting Competition for her song ‘One Voice’, which has become a signature song for The Wailin’ Jennys and also appeared on Putamayo’s ‘Women of the World, Acoustic’ album, in 2007. Ruth is now releasing 12 new original songs on her brand new studio album ‘The Garden’, (Red House Records) which was produced by David Travers-Smith and features an impressive line-up of guest musicians, including Nicky and Heather of The Wailin’ Jennys, Luke Doucet, Oh Susanna, Kevin Breit (Norah Jones, Kd Lang), and neo-bluegrass band ‘Crooked Still’, who accompany Ruth on the title track. Look for the new album in the spring of 2010.
In addition to her collaboration with The Wailin’ Jennys, Ruth has also toured and recorded with Jeremy Penner (The Bills) and Oliver Swain (Outlaw Social) in Moody, Penner and Swain (their album is called ‘South Bound’), has recorded vocals for numerous Canadian artists, and sings with Renaissance and Early music group, Camerata Nova, in her spare time.