Cadell was born in Brooklyn, New York, but grew up in Waterloo, Ontario and later moved to Toronto in the mid-1980s. A graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design, Cadell re-released an independent cassette titled Mare-In Ka-Dell in 1988 while active as a performance artist in Toronto's Queen Street West scene. As a performance artist, Cadell was particularly known for performing with a heating duct to add reverb.
Cadell soon signed to Intrepid Records, and recorded with Jim Creeggan of Barenaked Ladies, Bob Wiseman and members of Rheostatics. Those sessions were released in 1991 as the album Angel Food for Thought, whose first single "The Sweater" became a surprise Top 40 hit in Canada in 1992. "The Sweater" is a spoken word monologue, with a musical backing track—the first 20 seconds of Syd Dale's "Walk & Talk." The monologue revolves around a girl's thoughts about a boy's sweater.
In 1993, Cadell released a follow-up album, Bombazine, on Sire Records. This album featured guest appearances by Rheostatics, Ben Mink, Tyler Stewart, Anne Bourne and John Alcorn. Following the album, Cadell took a hiatus from music to do human rights work with PEN Canada. Cadell also wrote an independent film, which was never produced.
In 1997, Cadell returned to music with the album 6 Blocks on the independent label Handsome Boy Records. Guest performers on this outing included Anne Bourne, Mary Margaret O'Hara, Chris Wardman and Jason Sniderman (Blue Peter), Paul Brennan (Odds) and Martin Tielli.
Following that album, Cadell retired from the music business. He publicly came out as transgender on Bill Richardson's CBC Radio One program Bunny Watson on October 2, 2004, although he had already been out to friends and family for a number of years.
In 2007, Bongo Beat released an expanded edition of Angel Food for Thought, including two tracks that were previously available only on cassette as well as the video for "The Sweater". The CD was remastered by Graemme Brown.
Cadell is also known for the Christmas song "The Cat Carol".
- MARE-in ka-DELL (1988)
- Angel Food for Thought (1991)
- "Barbie" (1992)
- Bombazine (1993)
- 6 Blocks (1997)
- Angel Food for Thought [bonus tracks] (2007)
- Erica Smishek (2003-08-07). "New Songwriting Course a First in Canada: Creative writing workshops teach lyrics and libretti" 49. UBC Reports. Archived from the original on 2009-09-20.
- "Artist: Cadell, Meryn". The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia. 2004-11-30. Archived from the original on 2009-09-20.
- "Tall Poppy Interview: Meryn Cadell". Torontoist.com, February 26, 2007.
- Maryn Cadell, Canadian Encyclopedia
- "Canuck Sick Of Being "Quirky"". Rolling Stone magazine. 1997-05-03. Archived from the original on 2009-09-20.