Louisiana native Mary Gauthier (pronounced go-SHAY) had several dramatic pit stops along the way to becoming a critically-lauded singer/songwriter. She came out as a teenager and ran away from home, spent her 18th birthday in jail, went to rehab, enrolled in Louisiana State University as a Philosophy major, attended culinary school, and then opened the first cajun restaurant, Dixie Kitchen, in Boston. The wild tales and rambling journeys make for great storytelling, and Gauthier has done just that since she began her songwriting career at the age of 35.
Gauthier put out four acclaimed albums (Dixie Kitchen, Drag Queens In Limousines, Filth and Fire,and Mercy Now) over the course of five years, and this week released her fifth record, Between Daylight and Dark, to rave reviews. She is currently on tour in support of the record, but recently spoke to AfterEllen.com about making the record, her songwriting process, and why she prefers Southern gentility to the alternative.
AfterEllen.com: When did you start performing your new songs from this album?
AE: Have you ever made a point of specifically including gay press into your publicity rounds, or is this the first time?
AE: I would have said Americana, because it blends folk, country, and rock.
AE: Do you think the fact of that inclusivity and diversity makes it easier to be an out artist in that realm?
AE: You’re not one of those people who had a big coming out event, because you were never “in.”
AE: It is, but it’s not just generational. There are artists your age or younger who haven’t had that experience. It’s also a choice. We’re you advised against being out when you first started in the industry?
AE: You started making music at age 35, which is later in life compared to a lot of other artists. And it’s pretty hard to mess with someone when they are 35. They know who they are, they’re not going to stop being who they are. I wonder if that — in addition to your personality, of course — had something to do with it being a nonissue.
When I got the record deal I had dinner with the guy that runs the company, and I said, “Now you know I’m gay.” And he said, “Yeah.” I said, “And you know I’m out.” And he said, “Yeah.” And I said, “And you know that’s not gonna change, right?” And he said, “Mary, thank God for you. Do you know how many gay artists I have that lie about it? That’s the worst thing.” The record company doesn’t want me to lie. They choose to lie. Nobody tells you to lie. I don’t think people are aware of just how much people don’t give a shit about you being gay. It’s boring. Let’s talk about something interesting!
AE: I’ve never really understood how those artists who are singer/songwriters and who are working with autobiographical material very openly all the time can do that separation of “Oh I don’t talk about that. That’s personal. This is business, us talking about this music.”