The first two dozen-plus years of the Louisiana life of exceptional singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier? They were clearly not the stuff dreams are made of.

Great songs maybe, but not dreams.

Hers was an odyssey of being given up at birth, adoption, abuse, addiction, you name it; even throw a night in jail on her 18th birthday and a stolen car in for good measure.

But in her late thirties, after finally wriggling free of her darkest demons, Gauthier (pronounced Go-Shay) embarked on a midlife musical journey that today places her along with her sweet Louisiana drawl as one of the Americana-folk-rock genre’s most respected and gifted artists.

Does Gauthier, who just turned 49 and wrote her first song at 35, feed off those rough beginnings for the bulk of her deep and emotional songwriting?

“You start in the dark, and you try to find something to pull from,” Gauthier told me. “I never know where it’s gonna come from, or if it’s gonna come. Early on, I wrote a lot about my past, and things that I went through. Now it seems like I’m writing more about real time things. And I know the spark comes from the creator, and I’m not the creator. I’m not the inspiration…I’m the perspiration.”

After leaving a rough life in the Bayou behind and escaping to Boston, Gauthier finally sobered up and became a restaurant manager then owner, while letting her musical talents take flight on open-mike nights in Boston’s legendary Back Bay clubs. Her closest friends finally encouraged her to set aside her culinary career and give music a real shot.

“But it wasn’t an overnight thing. The defining moment for me to do it full time, and let go of the restaurant, came from mentors, people whose opinion really mattered to me who said, “You can do this, it’s gonna be hard, and it’s gonna take a long time, but you can do this.” I didn’t know if I could. But as a young songwriter…well I wasn’t young, but I was new at it…you take the advice of people who mean something to you.”

Gauthier’s sixth and most recent release, The Foundling, is a concept album that tells the story about her own experiences as an adopted child. In support of adoptee rights, she released a series of performance videos on The Foundling YouTube Channel featuring music from the album. Filmed and produced by Jack Ballo at Ultravision, this is the first video series of its kind to premiere on YouTube. “A new video was released every few days as the story unfolded,” Ballo said. “To actually see Mary performing live as she sings these very personal songs about her struggles brings a whole new dimension to her story.” Committed to seeing change in current laws about adoptee’s rights, Gauthier is hoping to use the YouTube Channel to reach people with adoption concerns. “It’s a place for everyone to learn from each other’s experiences,” Gauthier says on her website. “We need to listen and we need to talk about closed adoptions and the problems that go with them.”  The Foundling Channel supports adoptee’s rights with news, updates and communication with subscribers.

Shades of her heroes like John Prine, Steve Earle, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen waft through Mary Gauthier’s sound; it’s music that you swear you’ve heard before, but then realize you’ve never heard anything like it before. Gauthier leaves the door open on how her music affects people. “I never really know how my work is gonna land on people. I’ve thought a song meant one thing, and then someone comes up to me with tears in their eyes, and tells me what the song meant to them, and it’s completely different.”

And Mary is no frills onstage, as she weaves her stirring tales. “It’s just a bottle of water, a barstool, a guitar, and a spotlight. It’s pretty simple and old fashioned in that way, but I’m just a storyteller. So if there’s people who want come listen to stories, that’s what I do.”

To go to Mary’s website, click here.


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