by Mona Jhaveri - August 17, 2021

Growing up in a musical and creative family made becoming a singer-songwriter an organic, even necessary thing for Mary Loeffelbein. Songwriting is a natural outlet when life gets too loud, too harsh, OR even when it is too sweet! Words help her cope with life – but add music – and the tears flow more easily, the laughter bubbles up, the emotions that want to sit low and hide are allowed a voice and she can be free to express her stories.

Q: What was your original calling to music? How did you start out?

I was born into a family of musicians, singers, songwriters, poets and artists.  I don’t recall a time I didn’t sing.  My parents wisely encouraged all manner of noise and creativity for my 4 brothers and me.  It never occurred to me that life could be lived without music, so I can’t pinpoint a “start” in music – other than to say it began when I first breathed!

I have never really seen music as a career.  It is a means to beauty, clarity, sanity and ministry for me.  I have taught piano and voice for 3 decades and have also been a worship leader my entire adult life.

Q: Who or what is your musical inspiration? Which artist(s) do you look up to?

It may seem cliche or trite to say this – but my overarching inspiration is Jesus.  I love God and while He is my inspiration – the songs I write are not often directly ministerial in content.  I write to express something that words alone can not. This means that my songs are stories.

They stem from my life experiences and are often cathartic and even therapeutic for me.

As for artists that inspire me – they are many!  I teach singing, piano, songwriting, and improvising.  I am often in the company (prior to pandemic that is) of many musicians and singers – and it inspires me to see others giving of themselves through their music.  To be able to give them tools to reach their potential brings me incredible satisfaction!

As for something new – I have been lately working on embracing my ancestral roots in Scotland and Ireland by studying Gaelic, both in Scots and in the Irish dialects.  I have been writing more songs that lean towards the style of song in Celtic traditions.  This is so meaningful to me after losing my own sweet Daddy to cancer in 2017.  We laid his ashes to rest in Scotland and I recorded the Christmas Album “The Whole Year Long” in his honor because he had requested it before he passed away.  On the album I sing a single verse of one song in Gaelic because I was only beginning my journey of learning the language (and it is a tricky one!).  I hope to work on recording more in Gaelic or to at least record some of these latest songs I have written that have a Celtic vibe to them.

Q: Why did you become involved with Music Beats Cancer? Has cancer directly or indirectly affected you?

I have a Reverbnation account that regularly receives invitations from producers, podcasts, and other entities like Music Beats Cancer.  These are invitations to submit a song for consideration by the inviting party.  I saw the Music Beats Cancer invitation and immediately felt stirred in my heart to do this.  As I mentioned – my Dad died a few years ago – and the final blow for him after battling emphysema for years (he was a firefighter for 2 and a half decades and as a result had asbestos in his lungs) – the final blow was discovering lung cancer.  6 weeks after the cancer diagnosis – he was gone.  I can’t put into words how broken my heart is over seeing him suffer.  He lived his life serving others.  He was a firefighter, an army national guard serviceman, a hard working father, he served in soup kitchens, delivered bread to the poor, was a boy scout leader, – he served, and he served with kindness and respect.  I know he is with Jesus, so he is okay now.  I am not okay. He is missing from my life.  I look forward to seeing him in heaven.

In addition to losing Dad to cancer, both of his parents died of cancer, and as I go through ancestry – I see it is a genetic problem.  Currently – one of my older brothers is battling skin cancer and undergoing immunotherapy after pretty extensive surgery.  I too have had some scares with early skin cancer and to date have had 14 skin biopsies, thankfully none have gone far enough to warrant further treatment after surgical removal.

While participating in the fundraiser for Music Beats Cancer during the month of June of this year – my Dad’s little sister died – from lung cancer.  I felt crushed from the weight of this insidious disease that is so prevalent in my family – and also in my friends.  In recent months – I have seen 2 of my friends die from cancer, and a third had a double mastectomy to save her life.  She is so far doing well.

My teaching studio provided many years of music for our local Relay for Life Cancer Walk event.  I want students to know that their music is a gift that they need to give away, that the music was given to them for a purpose.

Q: What is happening next in your music career?

After this stupid pandemic – I intend to reopen my teaching studio. I hope to do more online teaching as well as Zoom lessons.  I continue to do music ministry and perform concerts (recently only online – but I do hope to get back to more public performing,)

I also will continue to write songs, work on the Gaelic language, teach and encourage others to share their hearts and give hope to others through their musical gifting.

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