Mary Gauthier Was Lost & Now She’s Found… find her too.

by Staff / JA SOURCE Bio / YouTube

“There’s freedom in knowing that you don’t have to know it all,” says Mary Gauthier, “which is why to me, a song should end with a question, not an answer.”

"Mercy Now" from Gauthier's the title track from her 2005 major label debut.

It might seem that after six groundbreaking albums of original songs, more than a dozen years of recording and touring around the world, a harvest of music industry awards, and covers of her songs by a roster of great artists – that Mary Gauthier (say it: go-shay) should have a handle on some of the big answers.  Yet with each new album, with each new cycle of songs that illuminate her soul, with each old and new set of characters and life changes she introduces, Mary is always ending up with more questions.  Where do her people come from and where do they go?  How can they find shelter from the storm?  What is the truth?

It is said that the master songwriters – the “truth tellers,” as Mary refers to the likes of Bob Dylan and Neil Young, and Patti Smith – those writers always put a piece of themselves into every song.  They first shined bright light on the truth and lies of her world before she began to put pen to paper herself, and it’s up to the listener to imagine what is real and what is a dream.  This sense of autobiography has always loomed large in the work of Mary Gauthier.  On her most recent album, The Foundling (released May 2010), her first concept album, Mary opened the door on the defining circumstance of her life, the emotional journey and aftermath of finding the mother who abandoned her in New Orleans after her birth.

The story of The Foundling resonated across the country, literally, and was named in many year-end Top Album lists.  In the Los Angeles Times, music writer Randy Lewis picked the album and noted: “The acclaimed Louisiana singer and songwriter tackles the most powerful story of all – that of her own life – in this extraordinarily powerful and clear-eyed song cycle encompassing issues of abandonment, adoption, identity, blame, forgiveness and love set to music as richly diverse as the thematic content.”  On the opposite coast, critic James Reed ranked the album at the top of the Boston Globe’s boston.com survey, describing it as “by far her most revealing album… a heartbreaking work of powerful storytelling, a blueprint for how modern country records could – and should – sound.  By the end of The Foundling,’ you realize Gauthier wasn’t just in search of her mother; she was looking for her own identity.”

Mary was orphaned at the St. Vincent’s Infants Home in New Orleans in March 1962 .  Mary was eventually adopted by a couple from Thibodaux – Italian, Catholic and doomed.  Raised in Baton Rouge, Mary felt a deep alienation – from her cookie-cutter neighborhood of little boxes, from school, and from her adoptive parents.  “I felt like I was dying.  My father was an alcoholic.  My mother cried all the time.  Both of them were suicidal.  There was chaos and pandemonium in the family.”  The only thing that was saving her was the music, the “truth-tellers.”