Her songs? They’re about as idiosyncratic as anything in the wide world of “popular music.” They’re painfully personal, yet they somehow infiltrate the souls of her listeners, no matter how different the paths they’ve followed through their lives.
Songs aren’t so much written as harvested by Gauthier. Though she lives not far from the hit-making mills of Music Row, she admits to knowing nothing about how to write on command. She says, “I have to be called to write. The call comes from somewhere I don’t understand, but I know it when I hear it.”
That call first came to her a long time ago. Her life to that point had led her to extremes, plenty of negatives and a few brilliant bright spots. An adopted child who became a teenage runaway, she found her first shelter among addicts and drag queens. Eventually she achieved renown as a chef even while balancing her restaurant responsibilities with the demands of addiction to heroin.
Two more successful restaurants, an escalating addiction, and a subsequent arrest led her into sobriety. It was rehearsal for what was to follow, when she wrote her first song in her mid-thirties. From that point, Gauthier channeled a long line of eloquent works, including the achingly beautiful, “Mercy Now.” She says of her new CD, Trouble and Love, “I started the process in a lot of grief. I’d lost a lot. So the first batch of songs was just too sad. It was like walking too close to the fire. I had to back off from it. The truth is that when you’re in the amount of grief I was in, it’s an altered state. Life is not that. You go through that. We human beings have this built-in healing mechanism that’s always pushing us toward life. I didn’t want to write just darkness, because that’s not the truth. I had to write through the darkness to get to the truth. Writing helped me back onto my feet again. This record is about getting to a new normal. It’s a transformation record.”
Mary will be performing as a duo with Jaimee Harris — www.jaimeeharris.com