She's been a troubled teen, a runaway, a drug addict, a drunk, resident of a Kansas City jail, an accomplished student of philosophy at Louisiana State University, a graduate of the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts and founder/owner/chef of the award-winning Dixie Kitchen Restaurant in Boston. But for the past eight years or so, Mary Gauthier (pronounced Go-Shay, the Louisiana way) has focused all of her energy on reinventing herself yet again, this time as a singer-songwriter. And after three albums, each better than the previous, it looks like she's once again scripted her own success.
A Louisiana native, Gauthier currently calls Nashville home, but her roots are ever-present, showing up in her dusky drawl, in her lyrics and, occasionally, in a odd twist of instrumentation. Gauthier often gets compared to Lucinda Williams, and for good reason. But her songs tend to lean more toward outlaw tales than mere dusty road observations. Think Steve Earle-meets-Beth Orton.
With a voice that's hypnotic and a penchant for straightforward lyricism (often to the point of being self-effacing), Gauthier is already establishing herself as one of the finest singer-songwriters of her day. Her latest release, 2002's Gurf Morlix-produced Filth and Fire (Signature Sounds) is a near perfect distillation of Gauthier's autobiographical tales and her newly discovered talent for telling a story for the story's sake. It also represents her finest collection of songs yet.
Constant touring over the past several years has made a consummate performer of Gauthier, who's played nearly every major folk festival in the United States and Canada. In short, it hasn't taken her long to become the complete package and the very definition of renaissance woman.