At an age when most girls are writing in their diaries, 14-year-old Margot MacDonald has found a wider outlet for self-expression. The Arlington singer-songwriter released her debut album, "Rising," last year, and she got John Jennings, known for his Grammy Award-winning work with Mary Chapin Carpenter, to produce it.

Her musical resume includes two Washington Area Music Association Wammie nominations (Best Gospel/Inspirational Vocalist and Song of the Year for "Fly Away") in 2004 and honors from the 2004 Mid-Atlantic Song Contest.

She has performed at the Kennedy Center and appeared in shows featuring the Corrs, Judy Collins, Josh Groban, Cher, Chuck Berry and Chic, among others. On Wednesday, the rising star is the featured performer at Steve Key's weekly music showcase at Stella's in Old Town.

Her CD's 10 original songs are sure-footed pop tunes with accents of rock, folk and jazz. Driven by MacDonald's lovely voice and supported by Jennings's clean guitar lines, the positive-message tunes are presented with a sophistication that would do much older music veterans proud. (People can hear song samples at, which also links to her Web site.)

Key, a tireless promoter of local musicians and a folk music star in his own right, generally graces the showcase stage for a few songs, and there are usually a half-dozen or so other acts playing short sets through the night, which finishes about 10 p.m.

According to Key, this week's lineup also includes Christina Van Norman, a Maryland-based songwriter who has a new CD coming out this fall, and Barclay Martin, a touring artist from Michigan making his first visit to the area. Others scheduled to appear are Walter Bain and Fritzi Alwin -- friends of MacDonald's -- and Billy Clements, an Alexandria-based country musician and host of the monthly open mic night at St. Elmo's Coffee Pub.

There is no admission charge, but a donation basket is passed around during the featured act's set.


Stella's is at 1725 Duke St., Alexandria, near the King Street Metro station. The showcase takes place in the Starlight Room. Because Stella's Cafe closes at 7 p.m., enter through the restaurant. Paid parking is available in the underground garage (ask for validation for up to three hours of free parking). For more information, call 703-519-1946 or visit

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Margot MacDonald, 14, was nominated for two Wammie awards in 2004.