Just ahead of the release of her new album Chosen Daughter, singer and songwriter Maz O’Connor performs at Gorilla as part of Manchester Folk Festival.

Chosen Daughter is Maz O’Connors first new studio album since 2016 and is released via Restless Head/Hudson Records.

Maz O’Connor firmly established herself as a rising star with widely praised LPs The Longing Kind on which she addressed Millennial angst, and its predecessor This Willowed Light, a folk set released during her year as recipient of a BBC Performing Arts Fund Fellowship.

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Latest album Chosen Daughter saw Maz initially struggling for direction.  Despite writing prolifically since 2016’s The Longing Kind, she couldn’t find a clear path for the album.  But once the themes that shape Chosen Daughter started to come together, the whole process was unlocked when travelling back to her grandmother’s childhood home in Ireland.

The album marks a highly personal collection of songs, exploring the connection between several themes: the affecting stories of Maz’s Irish grandmothers, her reflections on grandmother-mother-daughter relationships and how female trauma can be passed down through generations, and her own reckoning with her experiences of being a young woman now.

The seeds of Chosen Daughter were sown in a chance conversation Maz had with her mother as they watched the film ‘Philomena’ (about a woman’s search for her forcibly adopted son in Ireland), which revealed that her mum had been adopted from a Catholic mother and baby home run by nuns. Her mum’s birth mother had been an Irish domestic servant in England when she fell pregnant. Her story inspired ‘Predator’ and ‘Finer than I’ on the new album.

Also from Ireland, Maz’s father’s mother was born in Waterford one of five girls, who were left destitute when their father died. Her eldest sister moved from Ireland to San Francisco, aged 16, to become a nun, and in return the Order educated and housed all of her sisters in England, effectively saving the family. The track ‘San Francisco’ was born from her story.

Discovering that both of her biological grandmothers were Irish immigrants who had suffered due to their gender and their poverty was striking to Maz, who felt a real need to tell their stories. Added to this, the previous 3-4 years had been transformative in terms of Maz’s own relationship with her gender. Like many women, The MeToo movement was very important to her and she’d also been deeply moved by the book ‘Women Who Run With The Wolves’, which made her re-examine her thoughts on patriarchy. The song ‘Loved me Better’ came out of that exploration.

When does Maz O’Connor perform at Gorilla, Manchester?

Maz O’Connor performs at Gorilla, Manchester, as part of Manchester Folk Festival on Friday 18 October

Image of Maz O’Connor courtesy Elly Lucas.