PE Ledger

Saturday, September 23, 2023

P.E.I. singer-songwriter Tara MacLean says music helped her ‘process’ her divorce

‘We ended up being one of the casualties of the pandemic’

Tara MacLean credits the power of music with getting her through a tough time during the COVID-19 pandemic — splitting up with her husband. 

The pandemic has been hard on many relationships, and anecdotally, more couples have sought advice about separations and divorces since it began. 

MacLean, a P.E.I. singer-songwriter, and her husband were already separated physically when the pandemic began in March, he in B.C., and she here on the Island with their three daughters.  

“We realized the pandemic was really focusing us in on, maybe we didn’t actually want to be together,” MacLean told guest host Angela Walker on Mainstreet P.E.I. 

My mother always says, ‘You don’t lose a man, darling. You gain a record.’— Tara MacLean 

She said the pandemic forced them both to realize this was the best decision. 

“Maybe it’s that you’re in some kind of, you know, mortal danger. It really makes you, yeah, feel a clarity and seize the day.” 

‘I would just play piano for hours’ 

MacLean described her daily ritual of using music to help her heal. 

“I would get up in the morning and I would make coffee before the girls got up and I would just play piano for hours. And that was my time to sort of process the separation and really feel it,” she said. 

“Music really, really got me through that.” 

Back in the spring, MacLean, right, released a song co-written with Catherine MacLellan, inspired by her daughter’s suffering at being separated from her boyfriend due to the pandemic. (Tara MacLean/Catherine MacLellan)

As a songwriter, MacLean is used to transforming hard times into songs, and the divorce proved to be a creative outlet. 

“I wrote a song about it. It will be on my next album,” she said.

“My mother always says, ‘You don’t lose a man, darling. You gain a record.'” 

‘I just thought about all of the people who couldn’t be together’

For MacLean, it wasn’t the only musical inspiration to come out of the pandemic. She also co-wrote a song with another P.E.I. singer-songwriter, Catherine MacLellan.

This Storm, released in the spring, is a song of comfort and reassurance for people who couldn’t see their families and loved ones during the lockdown on P.E.I. 

One reason the song came about was because of a different kind of heartbreak in MacLean’s own household: her daughter’s boyfriend had to return to Newfoundland, keeping them separated as well. 

“It was really, really hard. And so I had a distraught child in my house and I just thought about all of the people who couldn’t be together,” MacLean said. 

Listeners said the song ‘got them through’ 

She was also thinking of Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.’s chief public health officer and a good friend. 

“I picked up my guitar and this song just started coming out,” she said.

MacLean says she feels grateful that she and her ex-husband still have a great relationship. (

After the song was released, MacLean said the response was touching. 

“People were writing both Catherine and I, just saying that that song got them through,” she said. 

“It was a really great, very deep and profound experience to put that song in the world at that time.” 

Grateful divorce was amicable 

Reflecting on her divorce and how it played out, MacLean said she feels grateful that she and her ex-husband still have a great relationship. 

“I think it would be even harder going through a divorce during a pandemic with something that was acrimonious,” she said.

“We’re just really supportive of each other.”

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