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U.Va. alumnus Mary Moore pursues music in Nashville

The McIntire School of Commerce graduate turned folk-pop singer-songwriter reflects on her career

<p>The music video for Mary Moore's "Moonstone" will be released on Oct 27.</p>

The music video for Mary Moore's "Moonstone" will be released on Oct 27.

Folk-pop singer-songwriter Mary Moore’s time at the University had a significant influence on her music career, both by showing her what she wanted to do and by revealing what she definitely did not want to do. While doing interviews with various companies just before graduating from the McIntire School of Commerce in 2017, Moore realized she did not fit into the business world. 

“I was just, honestly, very depressed and was like, ‘I can't believe I'm going to do this for the next 50 years,’” Moore said in an interview with The Cavalier Daily. “And I was just like, ‘You know what, I'm not going to do this for the next 50 years. And I'm actually going to go and do music.’“ 

During her time on Grounds, not only was Moore in the McIntire School of Commerce, but she was also the music director for the Virginia Belles acapella group. “Over the four years at [the University], that was the thing that just brought me the most joy,” said Moore. “And I would stay up until like 5 a.m. and push studying for tests and doing homework, so I could do arrangements and work on music. And it just kind of showed me like, this is the thing that I can keep learning about. And I'm so passionate, there's so much joy in it.” So instead of pursuing a career in business, Moore moved from her hometown in Richmond, Va. to Nashville, Tenn. to pursue a career in music, where she became a singer-songwriter and released her first single in 2018.

After releasing two more singles, Moore released her first EP, “Rooted Heart,” in 2019, which leaned heavily into Moore’s folk and indie influences, including Florence + the Machine. Recently, the coronavirus pandemic has made pursuing music much more challenging. Moore, who had to cancel a tour in Europe, went without playing a single live show from March to early October and has even struggled to safely co-write music. In spite of these obstacles to performing and collaborating, she has not stopped continuing to create music. Moore released the single “Cold Hands” at the end of August, with an accompanying music video in September, and just released a new single, “Moonstone,” on Oct. 15, the music video for which is coming out Oct. 27. While her August release “Cold Hands” ventured more into pop-rock territory reminiscent of Paramore than the folk sound prominent in her earlier music, her newly released single “Moonstone” has a pleasant mix of folk, indie and pop that maintains the earnest and honest lyricism common to all of her music.

Moore derives most of her musical inspiration from one of two places — emotions that she knows others can relate to or objects around her, such as a picture of redwood trees on her wall that inspired her most popular song on Spotify, “Redwoods.” But in the case of her new single “Moonstone,” a very specific, and “very gross,” event provided her inspiration by prompting self-reflection. 

“The compliments I get the most [are] that I'm a very sunny sunshine person and have a very warm demeanor,” Moore said. “And I think 95 percent of my life, I do feel very warm and have a little light inside of me. But sometimes I definitely don't feel that way. And I went to the doctor because I was grinding my teeth, and my gums were receding” — an issue evidently caused because of high levels of stress. “A moonstone is a gem that reflects light, and it looks like it fell from the moon. But a moonstone actually produces no light. And so I felt like that's kind of how I was. Giving off this warm, sunny demeanor, but actually having no real light or warmth for myself.” 

Even though gum recession might not sound like the most appealing inclusion for song lyrics, Moore refused to shy away from this “very gross” incident, beginning “Moonstone” with lyrics exactly as she described her experience — “I grind my teeth at night / The doctor says I’m stressed / My friends think I shine bright / But I am dull at best.”

The music video for “Moonstone” comes out Oct. 27, which, according to Moore, is exciting for its usage of “blue alien body paint … That's like the crazier, we-put-more-money-into-it video [than the last video for “Cold Hands”], so I'm pretty pumped about it,” Moore said. She also has another upcoming single set to be released in January 2021.

While Moore’s music career is her priority, her time at McIntire has nonetheless proven useful.

“Being a musician in the beginning stages, you make no money,” Moore said. “So I still do a data job. I do data analytics for a software company that does healthcare compliance. Very sexy.”