By Matthew Breen
Originally published on Advocate.com July 21 2010 6:25 PM ET
Mary Gauthier’s life has been the stuff of heartbreaking songs. Frequently dubbed one of America’s greatest folk singer-songwriters, Gauthier was given up for adoption at birth and raised in a troubled, conservative household in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Struggling with growing up gay, she turned to liquor and drugs, ran away from home at 15, lived with six drag queens for a year, and spent her 18th birthday in jail.
At 35, after having been a chef and restaurateur, Gauthier wrote her first song, and she’s been on a roll since. Her first label album, Mercy Now, won rave reviews, was placed on dozens of top-10 lists, and many saw her as a latter-day Johnny Cash.
Her confessional songs are often expose raw nerves, and trace unrequited love, nasty breakups, and hitting the bottle. On her newest album The Foundling, Gauthier, now 20 years sober, focuses her unflinching gaze on a topic she’s been struggling to write about since she began performing: being abandoned as a baby. It was a chance visit to the orphanage where she spent most of her first year, and a troubled first (and only) contact with her birth mother that provided the spark she needed to create the album.
While in Los Angeles performing, Gauthier spoke about The Foundling, which is available in stores and online now.