Mary Lou Sicoly Sweetly Explains: Blame It On My Youth

The Toronto jazz singer has updated an old standard for her upcoming album.

Mary Lou Sicoly puts a new spin on an old standard with her sunny rendition of Blame It On My Youth — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

Written by Oscar Levant and Edward Heyman in 1934 and recorded throughout the decades since by the likes of Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole, Connie Francis, Chet Baker, Holly Cole, Aaron Neville and Jamie Cullum, Blame It On My Youth has clearly stood the test of time as a relatable tale of guileless love. “I fell in love with the lyrics and, of course, the gorgeous melody,” Sicoly notes. “Being raised in a household where a sense of humour was the recipe for keeping young at heart, I’ve always had a sense of whimsy.”

That sense of whimsy found its way into the recording. Originally a ballad, Sicoly’s bright version of Blame It On My Youth is full of sunshine and rhythm. It’s an intriguing musical dichotomy — a lyrical lament set against a sweetly festive soundscape. For that unexpected, treatment, Sicoly gives full props to her longtime colleague. “This song was arranged by my brilliant musical director John Ebata,” Sicoly shares. “In a completely different style than the original, he gives it a Latin feel — cradled in a blend of colourful percussion and driving, Cuban-style bass which makes the vocals pop.”

Blame It On My Youth is the first single from Lemon Meringue Pie, the 10-song album Sicoly and Ebata started working on pre-pandemic. For these two past Juno nominees, it’s been a labour of love and much-needed creative focus over the past two years. Lemon Meringue Pie is due for release on May 10, with a launch concert at Toronto’s Jazz Bistro. It will be as much a celebration of a great musical partnership as it will be a party for the music itself.

“I feel that collaborating and working with people has to begin with a mutual respect for each other’s talents as well as a genuine chemistry that allows the flow of ideas to make good music,” Sicoly says. “I am blessed to have that dynamic both with my musical director and the musicians with whom I work.”

Although it’s her first jazz album, Lemon Meringue Pie is just the latest accomplishment in a career of milestones for the Toronto singer-songwriter. She has written and recorded five children’s albums, including the Juno-nominated Chase A Rainbow. She and Ebata recently toured a “classic duets” album Nova Scotia vocalist Mark Riley, and are working on a project called Songs For Humanity with Dora Award-winning multi-instrumentalist, composer and vocalist Waleed Abdulhamid.

Also an esteemed music educator, Sicoly is a recipient of the CARAS Award for Music Education, a TVOntario Award for Innovation in Music Education and was the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence. She has also toured the Arctic with Strings Across the Sky, leading music camps in Tuktoyaktuk and Iqaluit. From singing with her dad’s dance band in Sault Ste. Marie to jingles and commercial spots and performing in various solo, ensemble and big band shows everywhere from the CNE to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Sicoly has years of diverse and exciting performances behind her and many more ahead.

Check out Blame It On My Youth above and below, and get in touch with Mary Lou Sicoly at her website, Facebook and Instagram.