It’s been awhile since I have had the chance to find a stranger, and the beautiful spring sun/air is always an inviting opportunity to get out and walk around. I was out in Notting Hill on Portobello Road, which on Saturdays is ALWAYS buzzing with people. As you’re walking along entertained by looking at all the things you can buy, the atmosphere is set by buskers sharing their art.
Sometimes life has a way of pushing you in the right direction. You couldn’t miss her clear folky voice floating over the top of all the street noise.
Marcia Mello. Stunning. Her feathers are what caught my eye first and then I stood and watched her for a while. She exuded joy as she played her songs and everyone around clearly appreciated her as well, many people walked up and spoke to her or dropped offerings of appreciation. In between songs I asked if I could photograph her for my project and smiling back at me she was more than happy to be apart of it.
Marcia has been playing guitar for forty-five years and loves to busk wherever she goes. Originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, she has been living in London for the past 12 years, has recorded twelve CDs and is starting a new one before she goes back to Cape Cod in May. She has been a part of many musical projects including an album David Gilmour (of Pink Floyd) co released with the Orb in 2010 entitled “Metallic Spheres” on which her original “Black Graham” was. She said, “David gave our royalties to a friend of his , Gary McKinnon who was a UK hacker with aspergers syndrome who hacked into the US government and NASA looking for UFOs. It happened right after 9/11 and he fought extradition as a terrorist for ten years. The UK government got him off a few years ago.” I knew nothing about this but I looked it up and it seems like it was quite a big story.
She mentioned that she has played with a lot of talented musicians. Marcia plays mostly prewar, ragtime , slide guitar blues, some old folk, classical and her own originals. She had a few teachers briefly when she was 15, 19 and 48 years old but did not attend music school and she has a repertoire of five hours.
For the Queens Diamond Jubilee Marcia wrote an instrumental called “Merlins’ Cave” and sent it to the Queen. To her surprise and delight she received a letter from Buckingham Palace that the Queen wrote saying “it gave her much pleasure”.
On the side Marcia also calls herself a glassblower and oil painter. Marcia talks about how she was married for 25 years and brought up two daughters. She grew all the familys’ food from seed to canning and freezing it for winter. Her husband had a tree farm and they used to cut and sell firewood and logs for the mill, she used to drive the tractor and threw the cordwood in the truck. Later she split from her husband to pursue her music, returning to her native Cape Cod. She always kept playing her guitar and now she is focusing on her music and loves what she does which is clear to see.
Her beautiful guitar is an archtop electric Kay guitar from 1966, she bought it 12 years ago for $300.00 in Cambridge Massachusetts at Sandys’ Music. She has had it refretted and has worn it out playing so much but says she calls it her “Big Fat Daddy “.
Marcia loves London as she has a lot of recording opportunities. She has such a deep, rich story of following her dreams and passions which I find so inspiring… but I also feel I can barely sketch it out for you! I feel so lucky to have met this stunning soul. If you ever pass her busking, stop for a moment to enjoy the music she is playing and appreciate the gift she is sharing! You can check out some of her music here.
I hope you have met someone recently who has been inspirational to you!
Happy International Women’s Day!