Jul. 11, 2012 - Issue #873: The Big Cover-Up
Fri, Jul 13 (8:30 pm)
Blue Chair Cafe, sold out
It's difficult not to write about personal subject matter for singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier, who believes above all that it's important to tell the truth.
"I think it would be hard to write about something you have no idea what you're talking about," she states simply.
A long, difficult road brought Gauthier to this point in her career. After being given up for adoption at the St Vincent's Infants Home in New Orleans by her unwed mother in 1962, she was brought into a family where there was a great deal of turmoil. Her adoptive father was an alcoholic and her adoptive mother often had thoughts of suicide. At 15, Gauthier struck out on her own, searching for somewhere to call home.
Gauthier began a downward spiral into substance abuse, spent several stints in detox and found shelter through halfway houses and crashing with friends. She spent her 18th birthday in a jail cell in Kansas before she was kicked out of the state. Gauthier then enrolled in philosophy at LSU, but had to drop out in her senior year. She moved once again and settled in Boston, where she got a counter job at a café, eventually becoming manager.
With the help of her friends, she enrolled in school again at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. This gave her the training she needed to open her own restaurant, Dixie Kitchen, which specialized in New Orleans Cajun-style fare. This was when Gauthier got sober and began seriously working on her music.
"I just decided that I wasn't going to get good unless I went for it full-time, so I gave up everything I was doing and went for it," Gauthier says.
In 1997 at age 35, Gauthier released her first album, Dixie Kitchen, named after her restaurant. She earned several awards for the release and her career was off to a promising start. However, it was her second album that was her big break.
Drag Queens and Limousines earned a four-star rating from Rolling Stone and Gauthier quickly became a strong presence at festivals throughout the US and Europe. She doesn't regret her later start in the industry and says in the end, it really doesn't matter how old you are.
"You just start when you start and I'm not even sure we know what later or earlier means," Gauthier says.
Heartache struck once more when Gauthier hired a private detective to search for her birth mother. She found her, but when she called her six months later, her mother denied a meeting.
"If I had to do it again, I'm not sure I would do it," she says of the experience.
The ordeal with her mother sparked the inspiration for Gauthier's acclaimed album, The Foundling. The disc takes listeners through her journey with each song, from "Good-Bye," which describes the emptiness felt several years before the search began to "March 11, 1962," a spoken-word track about the final conversation with her mother. Other parts of the story include "The Orphan King,"
written about the trip Gauthier took back to her orphanage and "Another Day Borrowed," the album's epilogue.
"I think it's an important story to be told and I think there's a lot in it that relates to a lot of people," she says of the album. "I think there's a lot of adoption stories and you know, the
interesting thing for me is to find a universal experience, so I'm just trying to dig in and find ways to connect with other people through my story."
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