Born in Wainwright, Alberta, Mavis McCauley grew up in a musical family, taking singing lessons, as well as learning piano and guitar after her family moved to Edmonton when she was a child. After graduation, she joined Daisy Hill Puppy Farm (the adoption centre where Charlie Brown’s parents found Snoopy) with Mo Boyer, Bob Ego (later of Painter, Witness Inc and Streetheart), Dermond Murray, and Mary Saxton. Although their tenure was short, less than a year, they had a top 20 hit in several markets with a cover of “Let’s Go To San Fransisco” in 1971.
From there she was recruited to join Southbound Freeway, one of the province’s most promising groups of the day, who’d already had relative success from one single. Their second and final 45 was a cover of Steve Miller’s “Roll With It.” The b-side was “Don’t Go Cryin’,” which McCauley had actually written prior to joining.
Once the band had run its course, she set out on a solo career and signed signed with London Records and released her first 45, “Love and Games” in 1972 which showed promising results in several markets across the country. Her next single was “Sweet Cowboy” b/w “Feelin’ For You” in ’74, which again got good reception in markets throughout Canada.
She signed with Wes Dakus‘ label, Vera Cruz Records and released the single “Don’t Burn Me” going all the way to #1 on Chum Radio’s list in Toronto, and also did well in Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. The flip side, “When It’s Over” also peaked high on several charts on the west coast, but because she’d just had a child, she couldn’t put a band together in time to tour and properly support the record.
Recorded at Edmonton’s Sundown Recorders by Dakus and Howard Steele, her debut album, a mix of modern pop with sprinkles of her classical background and heavy on the piano, was in the stores in 1978. Tracks included laid back covers of Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line” and The Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody,” as well as The Eagles’ “Too Many Hands,” and a re-release of “Sweet Cowboy.” It also featured guest appearances by most members past and present of One Horse Blue and former Southbound Freeway alumni Barry Allen.
Being a mother kept her busy for the next few years, but in ’79 she appeared on Ironhorse‘s self titled debut, singing backup on “Stateline Blues” with Allen. She also contributed to One Horse Blue‘s first album that year, singing bg’s and co-writing “Love Like A Fire” with future husband Ron Vaugeois.
She returned in the spring of 1980 with her second album, RACER. “Steal Away” b/w “That’s Hollywood” was released as a single and immediately shot up the charts across the country. The lead off title track, “Center Ring,” and “Say It’s Alright” had a harder edge than the album’s predecessor, while “Fool For You” and the cover of The Hollies’ “Writing On The Wall” still kept a soulful edge. Written in large part with Vaugeois, the album’s cast was actually predominantly from the One Horse Blue roster again.
Later that year, she officially joined them, as she’d satisfied the stage bug over the last couple of years playing with them live now and again in between diaper changes. Together, they released three more albums throughout the mid ’80s, but she eventually pretty much retired, but still occasionally performs, often with One Horse Blue. She’s also kept herself occupied in the studios, working with Steve McGovern (Orphan, Pumps), and on a Christmas album with Fustukian, among others.
A new album has been in the works for awhile. Tentatively titled LIQUID CAGE, the project reunites her with McGovern and Dakus, and is reportedly due in 2012. Two of McCauley’s children have also embarked on musical careers, with Megan McCauley and Troti Vaugeois-Bauer both earning their stripes in their respective endeavors.