Most songwriters start writing in their teens and THEN accumulate the life experience that give their work insight and heft. Mary Gauthier flipped the script. Like fellow American musician Louis Armstrong, she was orphaned in New Orleans. Her youth was, to use the euphemism, troubled. At 15 and 16 she was addicted to alcohol and drugs and in rehab. She famously spent her 18th birthday in a jail cell. She didn’t start writing songs until her 30s and when she did, there was a remarkably, fully formed artist who was quickly recognized by an influential record label and the nation’s leading folk and roots venues.
Mary’s journey of recovery and reconciliation has been widely told and documented in her songs and her candid, moving on stage performances. What’s notable about her current chapter is how her experience with her own trauma and writing about it therapeutically helped steer her toward her current project.
It’s a volume of songs co-written with veterans and active duty soldiers processing their complex and often traumatic experiences with stories and music. The album, arguably the most anticipated of Gauthier’s impressive career, is called Rifles & Rosary Beads.