How Did You Discover Mary Catherine Lunsford

1971-03-08 Skip with Mary Katherine Lunsford

When you purchase one of my recordings I ask you to share with me how you discovered me. 

Here are some of YOUR stories.

From Mike: May 25, 2015

Dear Ms. Lunsford,

As with some other fans of yours that left messages, I first heard you on “wonderful Woxer” (WOXR) in Oxford, Ohio. That radio station played alternative music, everything EXCEPT Top 40 hits, from Leonard Bernstein to Phil Ochs to Led Zeppelin! I discovered it in 1974 after I outgrew Top 40 radio (at the “mature” age of 17). I did not know anybody else interested in the alternative music scene, so I learned everything at that time from WOXR. That’s where I learned to love the music of singer songwriters like James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Sandy Denny, Judy Collins, Janis Ian, and YOU.

I prefer singers with good voices and expression, songs that are melodic with layers of musical instruments that I can explore, and lyrics that challenge me to read between the lines, even if I have no idea exactly what experience they are writing about. I also enjoy music with lots of details that require many listens. Multiple instruments, played well, can each add subtle details that are a joy for me to discover when I listen to a song over and over again.

You have a beautiful voice, full of style and expression, and that got my attention in 1974. Your tunes are very melodic, and I could listen to them over and over. I confess in 1975 I recorded “Empty Changes” and “Parcels…” on my portable cassette recorder held to my cheap AM/FM radio. I’m glad I did; it was the only way I could hear your music for 26 years. The quality was too poor to understand the lyrics, but, from what I heard directly from the radio, they were challenging me to understand them. So, you see, your singing, musicianship, and lyrics were right up my alley.

WOXR succumbed in 1978. I was NOT happy, and I continued buying albums from the above artists, and others, but I could not find your album for sale anywhere! It became one of the few albums left that I just HAD to have to complete my “WOXR playlist.” Turns out I misheard your name from the DJs, and was looking for Munsford! No wonder nobody at the music stores could help me!

When I gained access to the “Information Superhighway” in 1997, I immediately searched for Mary Catherine Munsford, then and for years, with no luck. In 2004, out of exasperation, I clicked on one of the links that kept showing up farther down in my searches: Lunsford. There you were! Now that I knew your name, I quickly found your first album on Ebay, and won it with my first bid, about $22. It was in brand-new condition! Unfortunately, my turntable was too old, and all my attempts to fix it were futile. I could not find anyone to convert it to a CD, so I occasionally listened to your album on the old c. 1980 stereo with terrible background hum (yes, I tried to ground the components).

Over the years I have occasionally searched for you, hoping to find a CD. I never thought to search Facebook (I don’t even have an account), so I was euphoric when I found your website the other day. As with all my CDs, I will listen to yours over and over, until I know every note and word by heart.

Thank you for making beautiful music that I remember even from my distant past, and for making the CDs available so that I can finally get to know the songs so well in the present.
Mike in Florence, KY

From Mike: February 2012

Mary Catherine,

I attended Miami University in Oxford Ohio during the mid-70s. The local college town radio station was WOXR and during the evening’s mellow rock hours, they’d played your songs quite often. Your album was one of my favorites but I couldn’t find it, or was maybe too lazy to look.

After graduating and about to leave Oxford, I called the station one evening and requested they play the entire album so I could at least record it on my 8-Track unit. Known that 8 Tracks players had a tendency to stretch and slip, I copied this poor copy in the late 70s to cassette.

Yesterday, while cleaning old boxes in the basement, I found the cassette and enjoyed it again while going through my archives. What a trip.

Even more exciting is locating a CD copy. I’m looking forward to listening it once again with much better fidelity.

sincerely, Mike

From Celia: January 2012

I was listening to some old folk songs via YouTube and did a search on your name to see if anything came up. I don’t know if you remember but there used to be a radio show I Los Angeles in the late 60s and early 70s hosted by Skip Weshner. I listened faithfully and know he was playing your album when it came out. I loved the song “My Captain” and have always been sorry I did not buy the record. So over the years I have searched periodically on a handful of singers, hoping old LPs have become available again as CDs. So that was the search that led me to the Etsy shop.

I recently tracked down another song from that era that I’d been searching for and when I heard it, it sounded even better than I remembered. I bet yours will too. I’m really looking forward to hearing it again.

From Frank: December 2011

Hello there! I came across some old live recordings of you on my late friend Skip Weshner’s radio show from about 1971. I’d be happy to send you copies of this beautiful music!

From Diane: December 2011

I was a waitress at Gassy Jacks Tavern in Portland, Oregon in the early 70’s. I remember you well. You were great.

I even came in on my nights off to listen to your music. Gasy Jacks was a hip and happening bar in the early 70’s.

Great to know how well your career progressed. You probably remember Jack Stutzman the owner of the tavern.

Those were the good old days…The best days of my life.

From Wendy: December 14, 2011

Hello “cousin!” My husband, Doug, found your first album while we were in school in Durham, NC, before we were married, and decided you must be a distant relation. We always wondered what happened to you, and were delighted when he searched for you and found your website. We made a tape of your music (also have it on our Ipods) and have enjoyed it ever since! I always thought your songs were some of the most beautiful and haunting melodies, and the most interesting words, I have ever heard, and I’m really glad to be able to actually communicate that to you.

From Brent: May 14, 2011

Oh. My. Gosh! Here you are on Facebook! I first heard you on WOXR out of Oxford Ohio in 1974, and spent two years looking before i could find a copy of your LP. I am still transported to a place that’s simpler, happier, and with just a twinge of longing every time i hear it. My daughter recently asked me what music would bring me to tears.

There are some wonderful pieces of classical that do it for me, but very little popular music will. I realized that some of your songs will do that to me…thank you for sharing your gift with me.

From Lloyd: March 3, 2011

Hey MC!! Just wanted to let you know I’ve really enjoyed the ‘Cowgirl…’ and ‘You Men’ cd’s. I apologize for not having contacted sooner. I really liked “Indecision”, “La Naissance”, “Heartfire”, “Sid & Harry”, and your wonderful version of “Shenandoah”. I’m just very glad you had the opportunity to show off those pipes after the MCL release. It sure is something nowadays that the “young’uns” can make records at home and at independent studios, whereas we had to go through so much to get stuff recorded. Charlie Wilkinson and I can still be counted on as self appointed officers of the National MCL fan club, Virginia Chapter!!
best, Lloyd

From Nathanael: November 2, 2010

I work at a record store and someone sold a copy of your first record the other day. I put it on for about half a minute and took it home, listened over and over again and started raving to my girlfriend about how amazing it is to hear something that sounds so good in a time when it’s hard to find anything worth listening to. Really love the blog too. My new goal is to search out your other records, I can’t get enough! If you have any leftover vinyl, please get in touch. I would love to buy copies and I’m sure the store would buy stock if you had many. Hope you are well, thanks for the beautiful songs.

From Craig: September 4, 2010

I’ll bet ya don’t remember me…but….I played with you, along with John Jarvis, after Maury and Bruce decided to move on to their own projects back in 1971. We did some live gigs, no recordings, and played an outdoor event at Glendale College. What happened next, I don’t recall. One thing is certain though…I grew by leaps and bounds prepping for that gig with you. Of course, John Jarvis went on to become a studio musician extraordinaire. I still perform professionally here in Ventura County where I live.
It was truly a privilege to have played music with you…and as a lifelong Joni Mitchell fan, I’d like to assert that your music stands on its own and doesn’t make you sound like a “Joni wannabe” which I read somewhere 🙂 Craig

From Peter: August 31, 2010

Well, Ms. Lunsford, this is a letter that has been forty years in the making. When your album came out I was a DJ at WEBN, Cincinnati. We were an album oriented rock station with many eclectic qualities that each of us brought to our radio shows. It was a very creative, open, yet commercially driven format that did quite well and won over a large audience in the Queen City at the time. I played the hell out of EMPTY CHANGES, I’M AWAITIN’ & TOGETHER SOMEDAY off your initial album. I still have my original copy which I am listening to at the moment. The cover has he look of 40 plus years, but the record is pristine.

After four years at WEBN, I traveled on to Chicago and then to LA, where I lived and worked in network television for over twenty years. Music stayed in my profesional life as I worked on, among others, DON KIRSHNER’S ROCK CONCERT, SOLID GOLD, THE GRAMMYS, and spent a year with Michael Jackson and his family, (minus Jermaine), on the CBS TV Show THE JACKSON’S. I’ve had the opportunity and pleasure to work with many from Sinatra, to Joe Walsh, Ringo, to Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins and the band Chicago.

You are extreemly talented, a wonderful collaboration of writing and performing capabilities…and your voice climbs inside me and lets me soar. I have always wondered what became of you.

I was raised on classical music, grand opera and jazz. I added rock and roll as I came of age, (but not all of it). I need melody, lyrical in nature, (with or without words) in the music I love. I could hope that there is more to come of your talents, as in more M.C.L. music!

Feel free to contact me…need a video producer-director.

From Deborah: June 7, 2010

In the mid- to late-70s, I listened to a wonderful radio station based in Oxford, OH, tagged WOXR; they played a fabulous mix of music of the genre currently termed “adult alternative”, and it included such artists as Tom Rush, Tim Buckley, Judee Sill, Rotary Connection, the Strawbs, Ralph McTell, and Fairport Convention. I still remember the first 2 songs of yours that I heard the station play: “Empty Changes” and “Together Someday” – I thought I was hearing the voice of an angel! The music went straight to my heart. I rushed to my favorite “cool” record store (back when they still had those!) and placed a special order for the album. It immediately became one of my favorites, and I wore it out! Because I’ve stored all of my music on my computer for years, I’ve searched to find thealbum on CD, and to my extreme delight recently purchased one. Oh, happy day! I only wish I’d ever had the opportunity to hear you in person. Thank you, Mary Catherine, for all the pleasure your music has given me!

From John: May 25, 2010

I heard about you from a guitar player friend named “Butch” Keeney. He said you were recording an album with him and to bring my drums to the studio to see if it all clicked. I was blown away when I heard your voice. The beautiful, thoughtful, intelligent lyric’s. Your musical insight and phrasing was a joy. Your interpretation of “Windy Wednesday” was awesome.

The whole experience could only be described as magical/mystical in scope and magnitude….. maybe it was just me…. but then again, some friends came to the studio from Newport Beach and wondered how you could “just walk around and act like ‘normal’ people”. hehehe

From James: May 25, 2010

Good story, I bought your album from a music shop that I frequented. The clerk knew my tastes and every time I went in she had a few recommendations. She played the first cut “Care…” then I asked her to play a random one which was “My Captain.” I bought and played the grooves off. Of course, it didn’t hurt that your cover portrait was of a beautiful, haughty woman.

With digital music today, I could never get a CD until searched Google today and found your site.  Made my day. I don’t know why you weren’t a star because you certainly had the voice.

From Len: May 22, 2010

I haven’t been on my Yahoo account since I purchased the CDs, so sorry for the delay in responding. Thank you very much for signing the CDs! It must have been in the early 80’s…. I was listening to a radio show late one night on WMUB-FM, Oxford, Ohio, I believe (then run by Miami University). Anyway, I heard a song that really caught my attention (it was “Care, Care, Care”, as it turns out, I found out years later), and I listened all the way through as the album played. As fortune had it, I was recording that radio show that night; they were playing your self-titled album. I noted your name (remembered with help of having friends named Lunsford here in SW Ohio), and began a quest to locate your album. This was before the internet, so my search was through all of the used record stores I often visited wherever I went. The search continued when I moved to France and went to many record conventions throughout Europe. I kept searching, just with your name and with that tune in my head, for many years, but I could not locate a copy.
Eventually I returned to the USA and the internet came along. I finally found and purchased a vinyl copy thru GEMM on the internet. Lately, I found your website and found that that album is now available through you on CD, along with other works.

Something about your album really struck a chord with me; I don’t really know why. Of course it’s a solid album and you have an extraordinary voice. You efforts with Hide a Heart are also commendable.

From Clarke: May 20, 2010

Dear Mary Catherine:
I was just playing the album pictured on this site and now with the internet thought I would see if you could be contacted. In approx. the year 1970 I saw you perform live in a small club in Glendale Calif. (near los Feliz where I was living at the time.)

I sat through a few hours of your wonderful performances. Shortly thereafter I purchased the album and worked in Palm Springs, Calif. for the next 4 years. I met a local disc jockey and loaned him your album, requesting him to play it on his station in hopes of promoting you, I considered you that good. Unfortunately,(he DID listen to it), but decided not to play it on his station. I wanted you to know that I did this for you many years ago. People come into our lives and we never know what becomes of them, what they mean to us, or how they are instrumental in our lives. I’m glad you are doing well. Best wishes

From Beth: December 9, 2009

Thank you! I really enjoyed the cuts. Sorry I didn’t get back to you about your questions about the radio broadcast. I am a little hazy because I haven’t heard the tape lately (my copy broke several years ago). I think it aired sometime in the 80’s if I had to guess but it could have been earlier. Forgive me if I don’t get the facts exactly straight, but they told the story of how your record was made on Polydor & then got lost in the shuffle when they merged with another record company. They had gotten an advanced copy of the record & thought it was a shame that it did not get distributed on a wider scale because they really liked it.

I can ask my dad after Xmas because he would know more details & has the tape. Thanks again

From Beth: November 23, 2009

Hi! My dad is a huge fan of yours. He has your first album & I don’t think he knows you have more albums. I would like to purchase CDs for “You Men at the Bar” & “Cowgirl in the Wind” if they are available. They would be the perfect Christmas gift! Please let me know details about availability, cost, shipping & payment options. Thanks,

From Lloyd: October 7, 2009

Hello finally!!
I got one copy of the Polydor release when it arrived at Va.Tech’s radio station. Knowing that their only existence was to play the Archies and top 40 pop, no college album scene, I promptly lifted it, taking it back to our apartment, and proceeding to share with the rest of the music hounds. Resulted in a dozen or so special orders for it. Wore my copy out and have replaced it twice.

Having searched for years and years to find out whatever became of you, and as a musician myself, I found your site yesterday. That record was and still is, fabulous. Also know first hand just how fickle the music business is, regarding support of their artists. Killer production on Care Care Care, and all songs are very strong. We all just wished we had a chance to see you perform these songs. And no way to find out anything about your later work. I’m so glad to see you still working with music things, given what life throws at us all over time.
My friends Litt Roden and Charlie Wilkinson figured a way to transfer the Polydor LP onto a disc. So yes, we have bootleg copies of Mary Catherine Lunsford on disc. I’ll order the other two, and if you get around to re-releasing the first one, I would order it too.
Thanks very much for the website, as it’s solved a nearly 40 year old riddle for a group of us in Richmond, Va. take care and best

From Charlie: October 7, 2009

Well, there you are! You have a considerable fan club here on the East Coast and were once almost the object of a “Bug the Star” phone call after we used internet devices to unearth your phone number a few years ago. (It turns out that although we are guilty of many things, stalking, even by phone, isn’t one of them.) Your debut album is still in rotation, stands up after these several years, still makes us shake our heads at its beauty and then at the mysteries of the music business. I can’t wait to listen to the other releases, now that I know they are out there. It’s good to know that you, too, are out there. Thanks!

From Dave: June 25, 2009

I bought your album when is was first released.  I never compared you with anybody.  You were you.  It’s still one

of my favorite albums.  It seems there is no date stamp with this one.  I still love it.  Here is my problem.  Its made

of vinyl and is sounding pretty scratchy.  Can I get a CD or even a new album. I hope your doing great.  You know

as time goes by I have these old friends (albums) that just seem to never come out on CD.  Even if yours isn’t one

on them goofy old vinyl things will do. Let me know what I can do. Oh yea, as were all getting older I have this

memory that I thought I heard you play at the Ice House in Pasadena.  Could that be true or have am I just slipping

into….well something.

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10 Responses to How Did You Discover Mary Catherine Lunsford

  1. Jeremy Dunn says:

    I found a copy of your Polydor album in a local thrift store about ten years ago. I am an avid collector of music from the late sixties & early seventies and am always searching for obscurities that I havent heard before. Most of the time I give the album a spin and quickly move on to the next find. Your album has remained in front of my turntable since that day, I never tire of it’s purity & The timeless beauty of your crystal clear voice. Thank you so much!

    • Hi Jeremy,
      Thank you for your kind comments. I am always amused when I hear one of my albums is found in the dust bins of local shops, especially since I plan on having my ashes mixed with glitter and then spread about so I can keep ‘glittering up the world’ well into the future!
      MCL

  2. Susan Miller says:

    Mary Catherine, I began collecting albums a few years ago when I noticed my local Goodwill would get tons of them and at 99 cents each it was a fun, inexpensive hobby. Not like me to be contained however so I also found tons on eBay. I will
    just stroll through the soon to end auctions looking for intersting additions to my collection. About a year ago I found Cowgirl in the Wind and two weeks ago You Men at the Bar. Goodness girl, be proud! I sat out in my backyard last night at sunset and got chills in my skin and soul listening to your Shenandoah and know we are having a humid heat wave in So Cal. So glad to have found you. Just wanted to share, god bless you!

    • XOXO, Susan. You have raised my spirits immeasurably. I’m delighted you have 2 of my 3 albums. Perhaps one day you will eventually come across the MARY CATHERINE LUNSFORD album at the Good Will. Your comments are lovely.

  3. Katie says:

    Hi! Boy you sure started something with that post! haha! well, you also started me thinking… i knew you were family, we have some key people in common here on FB but i had wondered where on the tree are we… how do you & i describe our family tie? and i began to wonder why your name rang bells way back in some memory… and then a light-bulb dinged on! and i looked at your fb page and followed the links and TA-DA! there it was! the song that has been rambling round in my head for some 25 years now… Longnecks & Chili!!!!! how i remember when my Poppy (my grandfather, Hollis Lunsford) came in with a brand new record for dinner… he fired up the grill, shook his martinis and dropped the needle… and you filled the rooms downstairs. oh how they danced and sang and argued over the words!! haha! one of my favorite memories, i must say. and for 25 years that 1 song has been in my head but i didn’t know the name and always thought to look it up at the wrong times (just before sleep, in the shower, in the car… you know, all the places where/when you cant just Google it right then). i love music, i mean really love music is huge in my world, and when i get a song stuck it stays there till i either listen to it again (and again & again) or another, more persistent song takes its place for a while. so your song has been chased in and out of my head so long id just about decided i was the only one who remembered it! boy was i wrong! i linked the YouTube ‘video’ to my mom (Susie Lunsford, she married Ken who is Hollis’ youngest son) & then called her. we had a great laugh and shared memories and she just might be sending you a friend request sometime! my mom also said you might like to know we have this memory and that i should share it with you. your music touched us. thank you!

  4. Zhani Michaels says:

    Like Frank, I found you through Skip Weshner’s program, as well as other great musicians/singers.

  5. Tom Barrett says:

    My late wife, Elizabeth, and I lived across the street from Cathy and her late husband, Randy.
    We had tons of fun and I found out about “Cowgirl in the Wind”. Got the CD and it’s been in my
    car(s) ever since. I love the music on that CD!!! Great people, esp. ‘Randi-san’!!!!

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