Mary Gauthier On Late Starts, Transcending Trauma, and Her Searing Song Cycle.

Q: Are you specifically reaching out to people in the adoption community?

A: I don’t have to; the work seems to find them. And music business publicists don’t know how to do that. They’re running it up the same pole they run the Emmylou Harris record up and see what happens. Of course it’s a completely different thing. They wouldn’t even begin to know how to pitch it to Addiction Magazine or Psychology Today. So luckily the people on the Internet pass it on and the communities find me.

Q: Where do you go after a project like this?

A: Well, first move past the disappointment of not selling hardly any of these records. My manager says I’m exaggerating. We’ve done okay considering the market conditions, considering that there is no label pushed behind it, we’re doing it ourselves, I’ve been able to work the whole world with this. We’ve been in Europe four times this year, and Australia three times, and New Zealand, connecting with the subject matter and people affiliated with it much more than the music business in general. But we’re still doing the work. I’m grateful that it’s taken me around the world so many times, given the heavy nature of it.

Q: How has making The Foundling changed you?

A: It has cleared the deck in so many ways. Finally I’m able to name it. I’m able to see it. I know what the deal is now. There’s not this mysterious darkness following me everywhere I go that I don’t understand. You can’t ask more of art than that.

Q: I watched some clips of you performing the songs and there are moments when you have a big smile on your face. You look almost beatific. It seemed strange but it makes sense to me now, talking with you, that you would feel that kind of lightness. I don’t know. You look free.

A: It’s liberation.

Q: Right. You’re grinning the grin of a free woman.

A: Yeah. It’s so psychologically complex that even though I’ve been trying to articulate it for almost two years it’s still got me tongue-tied. I was listening to someone talk the other day in one of the meetings and the guy said, “You know, if you take a four-year-old and beat him within an inch of his life, he only has one option to deal with it, and that is to enter into the lie.” As an adoptee, and as someone who was adopted by people who were seriously mentally ill and had alcoholism and a lot of things in their life, I entered into the lie. And now I have exited the lie, into the truth, and the liberation there is profound. And art has been the vehicle. Recovery and creativity has been the vehicle.

Q: You’ve said that your whole life is built around recovery and sobriety. Does that get easier over time?

A: That remains a day at a time. It doesn’t get harder but it certainly is never going to be second nature to me. My nature is always going to be to try to medicate with something. And then I realize I just have to go through the emotion, whatever it is, and get to the other side.

Q: Your creative flowering is such an atypical storyline in this business. It’s inspiring.

A: Therein lies the blessing. Late start kind of sucks, but it’s like I’m getting younger instead of older creatively.

Q: I think a lot about aging and time and what people lose and what they gain over the course of their creative lives. A lot of people feel devalued and become bitter.

A: Yeah, I’ve seen that over and over again because they’re disappointed that it didn’t go where they wanted it to go. In a music business kind of way.

Q: You spoke earlier about the part of you that measures your success in conventional terms, and by that standard you’ve fallen short. How do you deal with that disappointment?

A: I go to the meetings and say, “Okay, what am I doing?” And the answer is, “Hey, you’re supposed to be of service. Your job is to be useful. Your job is to find someone who’s in more pain than you are and see what you can do to help.”  And that just puts me right back. That’s the rudder on the boat. And I quit spinning.

Filed under: Interviews Tagged: , , , ,


  1. Posted September 7, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Very beautiful. Both of you, Betsy

  2. MJ Laraway
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Mary’s work is a blessing in my life. To be in her presence while she is performing her music is a true revelation onto oneself.
    Remarkably moving.
    MJ Laraway

  3. Melissa
    Posted December 22, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    I have seen Mary live three times. I was fortunate enough to meet her and have her sign my CD. I hadn’t heard much of The Foundling when I saw her live the last time but it made me cry because it was so sad and beautiful and honest.

  4. Posted January 24, 2012 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    Thank you SO much for the music Mary.
    Wonderful. SOLID. Great!

One Trackback

  1. By Adoptees…past and present « The adopted ones blog on November 19, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    [...] Mary Gauthier On Late Starts, Transcending Trauma, and Her Searing Song Cycle. A very moving interview worth reading in its entirety.  It also have a video of her performing one of her songs worth watching.  A snippet from the first page. Q: A lot of people use drugs and alcohol to fuel the creative process, but you had to get clean before you could write a song. [...]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>