Tara MacLean released her debut album, Silence, in 1996. The album release was followed by two years of touring with artists including Paula Cole, Ron Sexsmith, the Barenaked Ladies, and Lilith Fair. While on tour she carved her own style and astounded audiences with her honesty and unforgettable voice.
She has participated in numerous soundtracks and a benefit album for World Vision, as well as for various crisis centres. She was named Best New Solo Artist at the Canadian Radio Music Awards in 1997, and also garnered an impressive buzz for her showcase at the 1998 South By Southwest in Austin. Her second album, Passenger, was produced in New Orleans by Malcolm Burn and Bill Bell. Passenger reflects Tara's search to find her spiritual centre, a quest that led her to music as salvation.
"My first record was a reflection of my search for hope. Now I am so happy and my outlook has changed from always looking inside myself to looking at the world around me. When I stopped focusing on pain, the beauty that I was capable of just flowed out. I let go of this tremendous sadness."
At least two fellow Salt Spring Islanders feature in Passenger: Sally Sunshine, to whom the song Shakota was dedicated, and Simon Collins, who played djembe and shakers in the same song.
To say that Tara MacLean has moved around like a gypsy is an understatement. Born and raised in Charlottetown, P.E.I., at the age of nine she went to live in the Caribbean, then Toronto, then back to P.E.I. before moving to B.C. The latter part of her teens she spent studying and working in the U.K.
Music and the entertainment industry runs in Tara's family. Her mother was an actress, her father a singer and dancer, and her stepfather a country gospel singer. She started singing at a very young age, and some of her earliest appearances on television were duets with her father on local Maritimes shows when she was 11.
Nettwerk discovered Tara singing on a ferry between Victoria, B.C. and Salt Spring Island, where she now resides. She signed to Nettwerk in April of 1995 after coming to Vancouver to record her song "Let Her Feel The Rain" for Lit From Within, a Nettwerk benefit compilation for rape crisis centers. That song was also placed on a Nettwerk compilation titled Slowbrew and it received some radio airplay. Listeners contacted Nettwerk asking where they could purchase Tara's full length CD only to hear that the full length album had not even been recorded yet.
Her first live appearance in Vancouver was at Nettwerk's 10 Year Anniversary Show at the Vogue Theater. Also to her credit, Tara made an impact opening for the Dave Matthews Band and she appeared at the East Coast Music Awards where she sang with her father, Marty Reno and Lennie Gallant.
In October 1995 Tara went to San Francisco to record her album at Brilliant Studios with producer Norm Kerner (American Music Club, Sky Cries Mary, Spain). The final touches and additional recording on the album were done in Vancouver.
Though Tara wrote most of the songs on Silence, she also collaborated with multi-talented Vancouverite Veda Hille and Jon Levine of the Philosopher Kings. Song topics range from child abuse and loss to self-affirmation and hope and travel to both the top and bottom of the emotional rollercoaster.