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Studio Session Artist Spotlight: Sweet Mary – My Road EP

Mary Porzelt, known by her artist name as Sweet Mary, is a soulful voice hailing from small town Florissant, Missouri. Florissant neighbors Ferguson, a town that has unfortunately been in the world’s spotlight for all of the wrong reasons. In an effort to shine a brighter light on products of Florissant and Ferguson as well as showcase a talented up-and-coming voice such as Sweet Mary, we’re taking you inside the studio as she works on her first professionally produced original EP, titled, My Road.
Sweet Mary is a self-proclaimed soulful bluesy singer who can bring it across multiple genres. No stranger to R&B, blues, classic rock, funk, hip-hop, and soul, Mary looks to escape tradition by blending multiple styles while retaining an old-school recording philosophy. And by drawing inspiration from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Beyonce, and Adele, Mary has primed herself for big name potential while remaining startlingly unique and close to her small-town roots.
Today, digital music has taken precedence over pure analog vocal talent in mainstream audio waves.  Some believe that we’re in dire need of a voice for the new generation. A voice that’s raw, that when heard resonates in the mind while sending a tingle down the spine That’s what Sweet Mary has always attempted to create. And due to the success of a recent IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign, she now has a real opportunity to make her mark. Mary has intelligently utilized modern technology, networking, and the rise in the popularity of crowdfunding to ensure that the world gets to hear her fresh take on classic genres that have fallen to the wayside. Smart indeed.
Let’s take a step inside of I.V. Lab Studios, one of Chicago’s premier digital and analog recording companies with some of the city’s best engineers. World-class artists of multiple genres have been walking through these doors since its 2004 founding by Manny Sanchez. Transformed from a former bank vault on Chicago’s North Side, this location is now the home of two studios and a creative lounge space. Every element of this space was meticulously selected to facilitate the creative process and capture high-fidelity audio. No shortcuts taken, no expenses spared, not even the artwork on the walls.

Lounge Artwork
Lounge Artwork

Lenny and Bobby
Lenny and Bobby


Enter a smiling Sweet Mary. Making herself comfortable inside of I.V. Lab Studios as night encroaches on a cool December Thursday. She looks at home. But of course, singers are humans too and are susceptible to the elements. Mary has been battling a cold. Some hot tea and plenty of water down the hatchet is necessary to prime her voice for work. Lenny Hooks, the evening’s vocal producer, and Bobby DiFazio, the sound engineer, run sound checks on the recording equipment as the talent goes through a series of warm-up exercises to smooth out any last second vocal impurities and fight off the effects of that cold.
Finally Lenny and Bobby take their seats at the control booth and Mary enters the studio, the door seals behind her and as she positions herself in front of the microphone and becomes motionless. The air seemingly freezes around her; the airtight room, a vacuum. Utter silence engulfs the space; lights fade to black.
“Sound-check, we’re good. Ready?”
An orange glow from behind Sweet Mary silhouettes her figure. The ticking of the metronome becomes audible. Background music for the track, “Money,” floods each headset. And at that precise moment in time, magic happens.
Sweet Mary’s s all-encompassing vibrations fill the studio. It’s naturally warm, bold, and shockingly original. Chills we’re felt and tingles originated on the arms and necks of everyone listening in.  And that kind of ear-drum tickling sensation that builds you up and then delivers when you’re listening to your favorite tunes… that’s what was going on here and it was genuine.  Sweet Mary is on to something, and judging by the looks exchanged throughout the studio, everybody was feeling it.
Sweet Mary continued to sing about the power of money and as she rounded out to the end of the song. Mary exited the studio to a momentary group huddle of smiles and high-fives before promptly getting back to business. DiFazio and Mary step away to discuss the recording. What needs work? What was perfect? Where can fat be trimmed? What sections need a little more oomph?
Section by section the track gets dissected in a way that only a professional can do it. Mary takes the feedback and provides her own perspective which leads to new bits of a honed collaboration. Patience and ambition are crucial to perfect verses in a song. This organic process is repeated time and time again until everybody is satisfied, and like a true professional piece, satisfaction doesn’t come easy, if at all. It’s arduous work, no-doubt, and exhausting on a singer. But the results speak for themselves as the near-mastered tracks approach completion.
The next song is titled, “Knock” and the process begins all over again after a short break. What seemed like minutes has actually been hours caught up in focus and drive. But no matter how much time passes, that familiar energy which filled the room at the onset of the session remains the same.
In the midst of “Knock,” Mary sings, “It couldn’t get better than this, no it couldn’t get better than this…” during one focal point of the tune. One could draw a contrast from those lyrics to Mary’s journey in professional music. She’s in the studio after years of grinding self-promotion and practice.  Finally getting an opportunity and some recognition alongside it to do something original, she has to feel like grateful. She claims it’s been her dream forever and right now those words she’s singing should be accurate. But we’re actually confident that it will get better than this for Mary Porzelt. As she continues to polish her EP in the studio, we all await the final product which is slated for a February release. In fact, this may be just the beginning of her road, a road that should take Sweet Mary’s voice from the studio and into thousands of concert halls, homes, headphones, and speakers around the world.
So be on the lookout for the new release, Sweet Mary: My Road EP and those same chills from the studio will undoubtedly transcend through to you upon hearing for the first time.
Sweet Mary
Sweet Mary: My Road EP

This piece has been a collaborative effort with Soul Source, LLC – a start-up in Chicago dedicated to helping up and coming artists reach their potential as well as providing music resources to Chicago area artists and venues looking to increase their network, output, and capabilities. Please follow, like, and share at
For a preview of Mary’s capabilities, check out her soundcloud page!
Check out I.V Labs Studios WebPagePage