Metro Weekly

Torch and Twang: Mary Gauthier’s country

Mary Gauthier has found her place in country music

Mary Gauthier Photo by Jack Spencer

Mary Gauthier Photo by Jack Spencer

Since first pursuing a career in country music nearly two decades ago, Mary Gauthier has noticed big changes in Nashville.

“There are more opportunities for people that don’t fit the traditional mold,” says the singer. “And that’s encouraging.”

One such opportunity is ABC’s drama series Nashville, which regularly features songs penned by under-the-radar songwriters. In two weeks, the show will feature a Gauthier song, performed by one of the leading characters. “I love the way that they recorded it,” she says. “I’m thrilled.”

The song, “How You Learn To Live Alone,” is drawn from last year’s Trouble and Love, which Gauthier calls “an intense breakup album.” The set, her eighth, follows the Gauthier tradition of sharing deeply personal reflections. She’s explored everything from the complications of being adopted to overcoming addiction. But her songwriting is never used as a therapeutic exercise.

“That would just be dreadful, wouldn’t it?” she says. “I find that to be narcissistic. I don’t use songwriting for therapy — I use therapy for therapy. I use songwriting to try and make beauty out of something that didn’t exist in a beautiful form before I created it.”

Gauthier, who performs at Jammin’ Java next Thursday, March 19, calls herself “an old-fashioned troubadour type. I tell stories and play my songs and make it into a cabaret-style thing.” Her live set touches on her experiences, which doesn’t really include coming out — in general, let alone in country music.

“I was gay in junior high,” she says. “I never came out, because I’ve never been in.” Which is not to say she didn’t struggle. In fact, while country music and America as a whole may be a bit more accepting of gay people today, it’s still no walk in the park.

“I don’t think we’re in a place yet where it’s easy for anybody to come to terms with being gay,” she says. “I think it’s still hard — especially coming from a small town in the South — to find peace with it.”

Mary Gauthier performs with Allison Moorer Thursday, March 19, at 7:30 p.m. at Jammin’ Java, 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna. Tickets are $25. Call 703-255-3747 or visit

Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

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