Sexy, smart, sassy, sultry, superfragilisticexpialidocious: five words Big Mama Lele uses to describe her music, and it’s pretty spot on. With titles like “Dirty Old Man” and “Montreal Boys,” as well as soulful pipes to go with her twangy ukulele tunes, it’s hard to stop listening.
Big Mama Lele, a.k.a. Amelia Merhar, started singing and busking with a harmonica when she was hitchhiking and train hopping across Canada and the States from 2004 to 2007. One day, she came to a realization.
“Ok – I need to learn how to play an instrument because I have all these songs, and I can’t just do a capella all the time, ” she says.
Due to her lifestyle at that time, which included backpacking with a dog – who also had a backpack – she chose the ukulele.
“I didn’t want to be another idiot on the side of the street busking who couldn’t play guitar,” she says. “I’ll be the idiot with the ukulele who can’t play.”
Drawing inspiration from real life moments, Big Mama Lele’s songs are often full of sexual innuendos and double entendres. One of her favourite songs from her upcoming double EP release is “I Know What I Do.”
“It’s a song about being really smart, but still catching yourself doing the same dumb things, even though you totally know better,” she says. “It’s a play on words because the whole chorus is ‘I know what I do, I don’t do what I know.’ It’s got a bit of a doo wop vibe, and I like that. It’s kind of a shift from the straight ukulele strumming for me.”
One of her upcoming EPs, GDFC, features older songs, with all the chord progressions of the title. The second is called Singles, and were songs she had written over the summer and the fall.
“They feel stronger too me, that’s why I’m calling them singles,” she says. “They’re all independent songs.
“The guy I was dating this summer, he gave me the idea to [have] a self-referential song where I talk about who I am. I thought about it, and I was like, ‘Yeah. Yeah I should. That’s a good idea.’ I talk about why I call myself Big Mama Lele, and then it all came together with “Do I Look Fat In This” …which is really fun.”
Big Mama Lele is ecstatic about her upcoming double EP release party.
“It’s going to be a fun time,” she says. “My last CD release, there was a really big line up to get in. So that’s made me excited to do another one, to throw another good party.”
The event is by donation.
“So if you’re poor like me, hey, you can still come,” she says.
What will her music will accomplish?
“Appeal to the crafty. Appeal to the thrifty. Appeal to the smart. Appeal to the horny. I do it all.”
Big Mama Lele’s Double-Wide Back Door CD Release Party has been re-scheduled for Thursday, April 17 at the Yukon Arts Centre’s Studio Theatre. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.