Mary Lee Kortes Creates A Folk Biography For ‘Will Anybody Know That I Was Here: The Songs Of Beulah Rowley’

[Cover photo credit to Barry Sutton]

Singer, songwriter and author Mary Lee Kortes has announced the upcoming release of her new album, Will Anybody Know That I Was Here: The Songs of Beulah Rowley. Recorded with the Grammy-winning producer Hal Willner, the project presents the story of the fictional dustbowl-era songwriter Beulah Rowley. Kortes has also shared the new track Born A Happy Girl.” The record will be released on April 22nd, 2023 as a Record Store Day vinyl exclusive.

Kortes comments on her process:

As a writer, you get in a zone. You get possessed by something. If you’re lucky.

Will Anybody Know That I Was Here: The Songs of Beulah Rowley was born because Kortes wanted to expand upon a typical album format to create a work with a sense of character that could incorporate her love for writing fiction.

She explains:

I went to sleep with all of this on my mind and I woke up in the morning with this woman in my head named Beulah Rowley, a depression-era singer-songwriter, from the Midwest like me, and I immediately started writing the song ‘Born a Happy Girl.’

Kortes then created the biography of Beulah Rowley and her complete songbook. The story includes Beulah’s regional fame throughout the 1930s playing at county fairs and her father’s Michigan movie theater, and her tragic death in a house fire with her husband and infant daughter, only to be survived by her songs which are discovered by Mary Lee Kortes and brought back to life.

Though the album uses a fictional voice, its themes of “trauma and grief, dreams of life beyond small Midwestern hometowns, mortality and legacy” are deeply personal to Kortes.

Over her 25-year career, Kortes released four original albums as the frontwoman of Mary Lee’s Corvette.

Mary Lee Kortes Tour Dates:

3/11/23 – New York, NY – Pete’s Candy Store

4/20/23 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge

6/19/23 – New York, NY – City Winery Loft

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