Metro Weekly

Editor’s Pick: Mary Gauthier at Jammin’ Java

Mary Gauthier is a singer-songwriter's singer-songwriter, with everyone from Jimmy Buffett to Blake Shelton to Bettye LaVette covering her songs.

Mary Gauthier -- Photo: Chad Cochran
Mary Gauthier – Photo: Alex King Stone

“Mary’s songwriting speaks to the tender aspects of our humanness: We need her voice in times like these more than we ever have.”

That quote from Brandi Carlile was one among a handful from some of today’s leading music luminaries — and also Sarah Silverman — singing Mary Gauthier’s praises as part of the promotion for her debut book Saved By A Song: The Art and Healing Power of Songwriting, published last summer.

Over the past 25 years or so, the lesbian artist has built up a reputation as a kind of singer-songwriter’s singer-songwriter, largely unknown to anyone else except intrepid fans of indie country and folk.

Although everyone from Jimmy Buffett to Blake Shelton to Bettye LaVette has covered her songs, which have also popped up on TV in shows including Nashville and Yellowstone, Gauthier didn’t garner official recognition from the Recording Academy until 2019, when the ninth full-length album of her career garnered a Grammy nomination as Best Folk Album.

Rifles & Rosary Beads was a powerful concept album collecting 11 deeply personal songs that Gauthier co-wrote with — and for — wounded U.S. veterans and their families exploring themes of combat, community, meaning, and loss, as well as what Gauthier refers to as “post-traumatic growth.”

Next week, the 60-year-old Nashville-based artist and New Orleans native returns to the area in support of her just-released 10th studio set, Dark Enough to See the Stars, a bold exploration of love and loss in the time of an unprecedented, world-changing global pandemic.

Throughout her career, Gauthier has mined her personal history for songs tackling everything from the complications of being adopted to overcoming substance addiction. Yet she never approaches songwriting as a therapeutic exercise.

“That would just be dreadful, wouldn’t it?” Gauthier said to Metro Weekly several years ago. “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.”

Wednesday, June 8.

Doors at 6 p.m. Jammin Java, 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna.

Tickets are $20 to $25.

Call 703-255-1566 or visit

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