Born Feb. 12, 1663 into a family of renown New England Puritan ministers, Cotton Mather would go on to become one of the region’s most notorious villains. His role in the Salem Witch Trials, considered to be one of the most horrific events in the nation’s history, led to the execution of 20 people in colonial Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693, all of whom were accused of practicing witchcraft.
Although Mather was not directly involved in the proceedings of the Salem Witch Trials, many scholars believe his fiery sermons about eternal damnation, and his book, “Remarkable Providences” (1684), which describes the supposed demonic possession of the children of the Goodwin family of Boston, led to the first cry of witchcraft among the young girls in Salem Village.
Upon learning of her ancestral connection to Mather, Mirabella was filled with both shame and remorse, the guilt of Mather’s misdeeds weighing heavily on her conscience. In honor of those who perished during that terrible period, Mirabella makes a yearly journey every fall to Salem and places flowers on the graves of each of the victims whose lives Mather had a hand in ending.
Her first trip after forming her band Passing Strange inspired her to write the song “Puritan Preacher,” which tells about her blood-relation to Mather and the impact it’s had on her life.
Like many artists, Mirabella uses her musical talents to exorcise the ghosts of her past and keep residential demons at bay. Writing “Puritan Preacher,” the first single from Passing Strange’s new album, Come Whatever Storms, was both a cathartic and creative endeavor for the young pianist/singer.
“I’ve always respected art that is honest,” said Mirabella. “I think people are most inspiring when they show you their vulnerability. So, in a lot of ways, this album is like reading my diary. Writing these songs has helped me find myself and leave these experiences behind me.”
Evidence of Mirabella’s newfound freedom can be seen on the album itself. The cover art depicts drummer and Milford resident Anthony Paolucci “leading her from the darkness and into the light.” The album name, taken from the Stephen King book series The Dark Tower, is a message of survival. And the back cover, a photograph taken by Anthony’s daughter Eden, depicts a garden statue of a young girl, meant to represent the stone-hard resilience of a female weathering adversity.
“This album is deeply personal, for both of us,” said Paolucci. “Our hope is that others will relate to these songs in a way that allows them to appreciate the music in a more meaningful way.”
Passing Strange is in the process of putting together a benefit performance Nov. 4 at the Milford Art Council to benefit Bridges, the local mental health agency.
Details have not all been finalized, but Paolucci said they will perform a 45-minute set, and there will be raffles and food.