December News: Home For The Holidays
I looked through my 2018 calendar to try and remember where I've been this year, and it amazed me to see I've played 134 shows this year, and spent over 300 nights in hotel rooms. 13 Festivals. 6 Countries. 2 TED Talks. 5 week-long Songwriting Workshops. What a year, whew!
2018 has been the busiest traveling year of my life, and I have been in constant motion. I now know the TSA folks at the Nashville airport by name!
I had a short few days off the road for Thanksgiving, and I'm back out playing shows again with Michele Gazich on the West Coast. I’ll head south on the 10th, for benefit shows in North Carolina and Tennessee with Greg Brown and Malcolm Holcombe, for folks who could use a hand this Christmas season.
I am so grateful that Rifles & Rosary Beads was nominated for Record of the Year this September by the Americana Music Association in Nashville, and grateful to be nominated for the 2018 International Artist of the Year by the Americana Music Association in the UK.
2018 has been a whirlwind for me, and the wind is still blowing!
What do I remember most?
To be honest, right now my memory is a blur. That said, I do remember moments of kindness, moments of love, moments of genuine human connection. I remember the day that Kees, one of my long time Dutch promoters who’d had a deeply debilitating stroke this year that left him in a wheelchair told me over lunch that he’d just returned from seeing the leaves change in Montreal, and that he’d decided he was going to opt for assisted suicide this May. All in one sentence, a sentence that took my breath away. He told me not to worry, he is ready, and that he is not afraid. After the show, when I hugged him close and said goodbye, I remember meeting his eyes and knowing I will probably never see him again. I will not forget the feeling of deep love and connection to a man who’d brought music to his village for many years, who’d promoted multiple shows for me, whose love of music and songwriters was his true passion and introducing them to other people was his gift to the world.
I remember the day Paolo Caru’, the getting-on-in-years legendary publisher of Buscadero Magazine and owner of a beloved little record shop in Italy took us to lunch. Out of nowhere, he told us to order dessert without him. He needed to walk his wife of 40 years to the beauty shop across the Village to get her hair done. He left his credit card with the waiter, and left the cafe holding his dear wife’s hand. My heart exploded. Seasoned, enduring love, the kind that continues to deepen with time. Seeing this kind of love can make me cry. Paulo returned in time for a post tiramisu double espresso, and while the coffee and sugar took effect, we talked and talked. He walked us back to the shop, and we talked about the condition of the world today. There was a swastika and racist, anti-immigrant, hate-filled graffiti spray painted on the wall of a building we walked past. I asked about it, what it meant, and he said, “The darkness is expanding again, yes?" It is terrifying, but at least we have the music.” He paused, and with his deep, wise voice, said one more time, “Maria, we still have the music.” He looked me in the eye with a sad smile, grabbed my hand, squeezed it, and kissed me goodbye on my cheek. I hugged him close. I do not know if I will ever see him again either. But he is right, and I am like him - I believe it is the music that will see us through.
SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR VETERANS
This year I was blessed to be able to talk about the redemptive power of song WITHOUT having to talk about myself personally. The Veterans’ stories and songs have carried me through 2018, taking their stories to audiences around the world and pointing to the power of song to build empathy and understanding. The Veterans’ songs brought me a deeper purpose when I needed it most.
I know for certain that successful song writing is not about technical skill, it’s not about the tricks of the trade, following trends, or whom you know in the music business. Songwriting is about something so ineffable almost no one names it: it’s about courage and emotional truth. Emotional Truth is what allows us to access that strange and beautiful holy grail of human connection: Vulnerability. From there, we access the bigger mystery and become alchemists. A great song is magic. And songwriters, at times, are magicians. What a job, what a ride, what a life!
GIFTS FOR THE MERCY-MINDED
I have a few Holiday gift ideas for Mary Gauthier fans from my web store, including handwritten lyrics to any of my songs. I will return home to write them in time for you to give to a loved one for Christmas. I have Mercy Now T-Shirts, CD Bundles, and this year’s Rifles & Rosary Beads on CD and Vinyl. Plenty to choose from!
I hope all of you have a wonderful Holiday season! Thank you for your support along the way. It keeps me going. Onward!