The voice of a ragged angel combined with the banjo playing of the devil ... you will want to run away with her.”

— No Depression


Iron Horse
IMA Vox Populi winner for best 
Americana song



Music (Downloadable)

Quotes from press and references:

Banjo NewsLetter Cover (Article - May 2016)

Tonight's guest was the incredible Mean Mary [Mary James] from Nashville. Those of us who bought tickets early were the lucky ones, as Fred could have filled the Cafe twice over, such was the demand. ... Starting her show on banjo, Mary blew the audience away."Faster than Scruggs" whispered one of the banjo fraternity in disbelief! Mary, however, does not confine herself to bluegrass banjo, she takes on many different styles, including folk, gospel and even Southern soul. She has an incredibly powerful voice which can range from folk to funk. - Peter Cowley & Colin Maddocks, FATEA Magazine/Grateful Fred's (Liverpool, England)

Startling talent - The Tennessean

Her personality and energy light up the room and the crowd goes crazy. - Chris Lash, Radio Veteran, Whiplash Radio LLC

I often say that this or that artist should be a household name but in the case of Mean Mary I genuinely cannot believe she is not known in every household worldwide! She has everything and more that is needed to attain huge worldwide success and this album is another that will be vying for my 'Album of the Year.' - (Sweet) album review, American Roots Music UK

Fantastic. I had chills from hearing your wonderful playing! Five Stars for sure! - Janet Deering, Owner/CEO, Deering Banjos

I was delighted and extremely honored to feature you on last October's opening concert of the Starlight Rhythms concert series.  Your You Tube videos helped me fall in love with your banjo playing and your performance in Hampden Hall was everything I had expected from a musician of your high artistry. Every word you sang and every note you played were in the heart of the pitch.  Your songs made sense melodically, harmonically and structurally.  More over, you have a stage presence that radiates with your extraordinary talent.  I could have listened to you for hours.  The performance was an inspiration to me (I drove home afterwards and practiced my cello playing) and a reason for Englewood Arts to forge ahead with the series. - Eric Bertoluzzi, Starlight Concert Series (Englewood, Colorado)

Perhaps “Mean Mary” James earned that moniker with her decidedly not-shabby banjo work, but meanness would not seem to factor into this singer/multi-instrumentalist’s skillful manner with pleasant, frequently downright pretty, folk-grounded melodies and earthy, warm-blooded lyric readings. - (Sweet) Album Review, Roots Music Report

Mary was the headline act at the Filey Folk Festival in 2014 and was a revelation. Most famous for her lightening banjo chops she proved equally versitile on guitar and fiddle. Playing many original songs from her large back catalogue she also played spirited renditions of several folk and bluegrass favourites. She connected with the audience many of whom were seeing her for the first time as well as anyone I've seen before and has an infectious disposition. Can't wait to have her back over to the UK in 2016. - Chris Lee, Festival/Concert Promoter, (Filey, England)

This young lady has a strong confident voice, as sweet, rich and full-bodied as sorghum syrup … Her playing can be fast – very fast – yet musical. No technical playing here just for the flashiness of it; Mary’s choices always make sense, musically. - The Lucky Lad, No Depression

Last night was just incredibly wonderful. I love hearing your incredible instrumental talents and your expressive voice fill that lobby. Thank you so much for bringing your talents to us. - Ellen Jones Pryor, Director of Communications, Frist Center (Nashville, Tennessee)

Mary is a consummate performer with a bewitching voice that is at once sexy, vulnerable, and yet as powerful as any man’s. - Jack Montgomery, The Amplifier

The voice of a ragged Angel combined with the banjo playing of the Devil ... The epic Death and the Maiden (9 mins. and 45 seconds) would have had me diving for the FF button in the hands of most other Folk singers, but here I have listened intently on several listens and each time the song unravels another secret; which is quite an achievement. ... Memphis Moon has a Country Blues feel to it and (my favourite track) Sweet Jezebel, which closes the record had me comparing Mary to both Nanci Griffith AND Joni Mitchell which may sound odd; but is the perfect description.  - (Year of the Sparrow) Album Review, No Depression


Tour Dates

Description & Bio

Award-winning musician/writer and fan favorite (over 12 million views on her YouTube videos), Mean Mary, literally grew-up in music. She evolved from a child prodigy who played for tips on the streets of Nashville (“startling talent” said the Tennessean) to a seasoned performer and headliner of over 4000 festivals and concerts (“the voice of a ragged Angel combined with the banjo playing of the Devil” says No Depression).

Deering Banjo’s named her their Goodtime Ambassador, and Janet Deering describes her banjo playing as giving her “chills.” Equally versatile on guitar, fiddle, and 8 other instruments, Mary is known internationally for her lightning-fast fingers, haunting vocals, and intricate story songs. As a high-energy performer that thrives on variety and as a songwriter that chooses unusual subject matters, anything from ghost pirates to demon guitars could romp through a Mean Mary show.

Mean Mary (Mary James), a Florida native now based in Nashville, began life as a musical prodigy—could read music before she could read words and co-wrote songs at age five. By age seven she was proficient on the guitar, banjo, & violin, and entertained audiences across the US with her vocal and instrumental skills. Her life has been one long road show interspersed with TV, radio, and film. 

Full bio:

Press photos

Photo credit: Johnny Giles
Click images to download

Social media


2014 IMA Vox Populi Winner Best Americana Song - Iron Horse

2014 IMA Vox Populi Winner Best Americana Song - Iron Horse

2014 Readers' Favorite International Book Award Winner
Mystery Novel - Wherefore Art Thou, Jane?

2014 Readers' Favorite International Book Award Winner Mystery Novel - Wherefore Art Thou, Jane?

Stage Plot

Stage Plot 176 KB