Singer and songwriter MaryBeth Doran traded
New York City for an Adel farmhouse.
Written by Chad Taylor
Photos by Duane Tinkey
Five things to know about MaryBeth Doran
1. She’s been around.
Doran grew up in the Twin Cities area in Minnesota, then moved to Washington, D.C., where she attended George Washington University. From there, it was on to New York City, where she fronted the band Milly Beau and met her boyfriend, bassist Ben Mars. When Mars moved back to the family farm in Adel this year, Doran came with him.
2. Music is in her blood.
“My whole family is musical,” says the 27-year-old Doran. “None of them have ever pursued it (professionally), but they can all sing. They can all play guitar.” Doran has been a singer since a young age but was in her 20s before she started
learning to play piano and guitar.
3. She figured out her calling early.
“I remember exactly when it was,” Doran recalls. “I was on the playground one day with some friends, and they asked me to sing a song. So I did, and everyone was like, ‘Wow, that was really good.’ I think we’re all given some way in life that we’re good at expressing ourselves. That was when I knew that singing was my way.”
4. She’s ready to go it alone.
Doran’s first experience with music outside of school was with Milly Beau. The New York-based quintet was signed to Green House Records and produced two albums for the label. Though Doran loved the experience, she decided she was ready for a solo project. “For a while I tried to do both at once,” she says, “but it was made clear to me that I wouldn’t be allowed to make my own thing a priority.” The chance to write and perform her own songs proved to be the bigger pull, so Doran left Milly Beau and moved to Iowa.
5. She enjoys farm life.
Doran and Mars live on a small farm just outside Adel with a gaggle of barn cats. There, Mars works on his motorcycles and Doran makes homemade granola and writes music. She even recorded her new songs in the farmhouse living room. “It’s kind of a yin/yang sort of thing,” she says. “I’ve had this very fast-paced, East Coast life for so long that even on days when I think, ‘Where is everybody?’ I still know that there’s something about the farm that’s very good for me.”