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Folk’s Wailin’ Jennys stand out as solo acts, shine as a trio

The Wailin’ Jennys land at the Bing Crosby Theater at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
The Wailin’ Jennys land at the Bing Crosby Theater at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Sometimes being apart is what makes the union so great. So it is for the Wailin’ Jennys, the Canadian-based folk/roots act known for its three-part harmonies, songwriting and voluptuous acoustic arrangements.

The trio – Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody and Heather Masse – plays the Bing Crosby Theater on Sunday, the last stop in Washington state after two sold-out dates in Seattle, plus shows in Yakima and Omak. It’s also the last show before the band takes a break for the holidays.

Although all three women are independent wonders, Moody agreed something special happens when they join together as the Jennys.

“We can’t be the Jennys without being who we are individually,” she said during a phone interview from her home in Winnipeg.

In the new year, the women will start working on new material. Their most recent album, “Bright Morning Stars,” was released in 2011. Since, they’ve been busy touring with the Jennys and with solo careers. As well as private lives: While Moody joked she’s married to her career (even teasing online she’d marry her banjo), Mehta and Masse both have young children.

When the Jennys formed, it was understood by all three that they were solo artists first. Then the Wailin’ Jennys stormed the roots world, winning a 2005 Juno Award (the Canadian Grammy) for the band’s first full-length album, “40 Days.”

“It’s challenging logistically to juggle all the different things,” Moody said. “I guess we are all workaholics but really passionate about what we do.”

Moody, who did her own Washington state shows in November, also plans to work on a new solo album. She released “These Wilder Things” in 2013. She hopes to use her December break to write and “do the things not possible on the road” such as eating healthy, getting rest, and seeing friends and family.

“I have grand hopes of doing yoga and meditating,” Moody said. “Truth be told, I’ll be in sweats a lot.”

Moody is a trained pianist, raised in a musical family that “expected results.” Yet she is quick to say she makes that statement with love, adding that her parents have “mellowed out.”

“Maybe they weren’t expecting me to be a folk singer,” she said.

For the past year, the Jennys have teamed with the National Alliance on Mental Illness to raise money and awareness about mental illness. Being on the road doesn’t allow much time for the women to volunteer, so they decided to connect with a national organization to help.

After the Oso landslide in March that killed 43 people, the band played five sold-out shows in Portland, Edmonds and Mount Vernon and raised more than $3,500 for NAMI and the Oso Landslide Relief Fund, according the band’s website (www.thewailinjennys.com). The post also includes a photo of Mehta hugging a large, mossy tree during the Northwest visit.

“Just simply talking about mental illness onstage in a normalizing way helps reduce stigma,” Mehta wrote in an email, “which is one of the key problems when it comes to overall support of mental health education.”

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