Mary Gauthier

NPR's 50 Best Albums of 2018


Rifles & Rosary Beads Named One of NPR’s 50 Best Albums of 2018!


“Few singer-songwriters have mined their own autobiographies with a stronger belief in the unifying potential of human affliction than Mary Gauthier, but she arrived at her most compelling expressions of empathy to date by fixating intently on others' stories. Rifles & Rosary Beads, her eighth proper studio album, was the fruit of songwriting retreats with American military veterans and their spouses and partners; with the participants' permission, what began as a therapeutic exercise led to a riveting collection of testimonies, recollections and vignettes. Gauthier is a tough, almost surly singer who makes her emotional commitment to the material felt, and her choice of producers, and multi-instrumentalist Neilson Hubbard, framed it with bristly folk-rock gravity. The greatest source of the 11 songs' power is how they capture contradictions in excruciating, unshakable detail: the feelings of fierce camaraderie beneath heroic displays of stoicism; the mixture of pride and anguish that service leaves in its wake; the trauma that alienates vets and their loved ones even after they're reunited beneath the same roofs. That degree of attentiveness was an especially needed salve during a year when differences in experience and perspective were treated as unbridgeable, hostility-stoking barriers.”
Jewly Hight

Album of the Year Nomination: September Newsletter


Welcome to my September Newsletter!

Hello from New Mexico, where I'm teaching songwriting and playing shows with Eliza Gilkyson this week! 

I've been on the road all month with Michele Gazich, who plays violin and viola, and Jaimee Harris, who has been singing background vocals for us. We covered a lot of ground in August, and it has been a great joy to share the stage with them all month!

From playing
Rifles & Rosary Beads songs in front of music supervisors in the HBO Offices in Santa Monica, to teaching songwriting at the Targhee Bluegrass Festival in Wyoming, to teaching and performing at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons, Colorado, to the big stages at the Philadelphia Folk Festival and the Fayetteville Roots Festival in Arkansas, we've been burning up the highways all month.

One of my favorite memories of this tour is meeting Nolan, the young man in the picture below. At just 8 years old, he was a student at The Grand Targhee Music Camp.


After Jaimee, Michele and I finished playing our set, Nolan came up to me and asked me if he could sing me a couple of songs. We went out to the patio and he proceeded to sing me EVERY verse of Folsom Prison Blues, and then sang Somewhere Over The Rainbow. His beautiful voice soared, and he stole my heart.

The next day at lunch he sat with us, and I asked him why he decided to learn Folsom Prison. 
He said he learned it because he liked that Johnny Cash went to the prison to sing for the guys inside. He said "I think it was kinda like what you are all doing with the Veterans." I said, "Nolan, I would have never thought of it that way, but yes, you're right."

He smiled and my heart exploded into rainbows.

What a beautiful moment, with a wonderful young man.


Rifles & Rosary Beads Nominated for Album of the Year by Americana Music Association

We are so honored that Rifles & Rosary Beads has been nominated for
Americana Album of the Year!

I will be performing The War After The War, from Rifles & Rosary Beads, at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville during The Americana Honors & Awards Showon Wednesday, September 12th. I will also be playing quite a few showcases during the AmericanaFest Conference. 

Please make plans to join us during the week of September 11-16th in Nashville for AmericanaFest.



Special thanks to Kathy Mattea for recording "Mercy Now" on her new album Pretty Bird, out September 7th. What a beautiful rendition. Thank you, Kathy!

"Like a hand extended to help you on your path, Kathy Mattea's new song, 'Mercy Now,' reaches out to touch the listener with a message of empathy."  -



What an honor for "Mercy Now" to be chosen as the closing song on the "Yellowstone" Season Finale!

"The scene at the end of the Yellowstone finale, as Kevin Costner walked toward the beautiful mountains and the music played in the background, really touched many fans' hearts." -




As always, thank you for your support! ~ Mary

"Mercy Now" Closing Song on Yellowstone Season Finale


Does anyone out there watch "Yellowstone," the TV Show? Starring Kevin Costner, Yellowstone is set on the largest contiguous ranch in the US, on the border of Yellowstone National Park. The show has been very popular. This year it was the "second-most watched TV series on ad-supported cable, only behind The Walking Dead," with close to 5 million viewers per episode. I am honored to have "Mercy Now" placed as the final song of the of the 2018 season finale!

"If you’re like me, then that song at the end of the Yellowstone really moved you. The singer talked about mercy, a man’s work almost being over, and how people in power will do anything to keep their crown. The scene at the end of the Yellowstone finale, as Kevin Costner walked toward the beautiful mountains and the music played in the background, really touched many fans’ hearts." -


Finding Emotional Truth: April 2016

Finding Emotional Truth: April 2016

“Extracting the true from the false is at the core of songwriting, and even when the writer works through fantasy and fiction, (and most of us do) emotional truth is the right basis of it. It’s paradoxical, but oftentimes the best way to demonstrate emotional truth is through made up tales. We use melody and metaphor to point to experiences that there are no words for.

Inspiration In The Rockies: March 2016

Inspiration In The Rockies: March 2016

 have drawn inspiration from this beautiful landscape and creative environment for my book, and am excited about the potential for a new project affiliated with The Banff Centre and friends Sam Baker, Jim White and Minton Sparks.

Thank You, David Bowie!

Thank You, David Bowie!

From ABC News, "Bowie Lauded as an Artist Who Made It Ok to Be Different," 1/12/2016: "David Bowie showed this queer kid from Baton Rouge that gender outlaws are cool," wrote singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier on Twitter. "Androgyny=rock&roll, not a reason to kill myself."

Working For The Greater Good = Joy

Working For The Greater Good = Joy

I  was honored to perform on the Grand Ole Opry at The Ryman Saturday, November 28th - the night of the Opry's 90th Birthday.

I brought some friends with me, including Combat Veteran Josh Geartz, who fought in The Iraq War and co-wrote "Still On The Ride" with me, and Singer-Songwriter James House, both of whom I met through Songwriting With Soldiers (SW:S).

Drag Queens & Limousines: July 2015

Drag Queens & Limousines: July 2015

This past week was a big week for outsiders like me in America, a big week for those of us who never really expected to live to see the day when our lives would be honored and respected by the law of the land. I celebrate for the kids especially - the next generation of gay kids.

Magic at The Cloister of St. Giovanni: June 2015

Magic at The Cloister of St. Giovanni: June 2015

Michele Gazich recently accompanied me on my two-week tour in Italy and Ireland, playing violin and viola on the songs I have written for soldiers as well as some of my recent songs from Trouble & Love

Rifles & Rosary Beads

Rifles & Rosary Beads

I was in a SW:S writing session a few weeks ago when Joe Costello, a young soldier, looked me in the eye and said, “I don’t know how to explain how I feel except to say my soul hurts.” Then he looked down, and there was a long silence.

Why Do Songs Matter?


Most of life’s joy comes from love and connection, and most pain comes from love lost. In this, all of us are alike, and songs are a universal language that connects our hearts. Songs do matter, they’re important, and there’s nothing else nothing quite like them. They are our mother tongue. I was recently asked to write about why songs matter. I immediately think of Woody Guthrie’s guitar, with the saying, “This Machine Kills Fascists” hand-written on it. Woody believed singing truth to power is ultimately more persuasive than violence.

I also think about the soldiers I work with in the songwriting workshops, how writing a song about their war experience lifts a heavy weight off of their hearts. At the deepest level, songs can change lives. They help us heal. We can grab a song and say YES! LOOK! This is how I feel. Songs are human emotion dressed in melody and story. Songs express our hopes and dreams, our concerns, our playfulness, and they help us voice our values, anger, and frustrations.

Songs sing our truths, highlight our shared experiences, and help articulate the full range of human feelings. Songs can give us the hope we need, and the faith we are lacking when we are struggling. Songs see us, and we see ourselves in them. They don’t require an education to understand, they transcend language, race, age, sexual preference, nationality and religion, and they are timeless. When we feel a song deeply, we claim it as our own and can play it hundreds of times.

Songs can also be conduits for compassion and empathy, a road map into a stranger’s heart, which upon inspection - mirrors our own heart. Songs help us know each other and they also can plug us into the spiritual and sacred realm of faith, hope, compassion, mercy, charity, forgiveness and humility. Through the alchemy of song, even sad songs create the feeling of connection because we are reassured that we are not alone. Songs are what feelings sound like.

Why do songs matter to you?

"Without music, life would be a mistake." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Stage It Show, with Gretchen Peters


I’m really excited to be doing my first StageIt show with my good friend Gretchen Peters. We’ll be trading songs streaming live on the internet at 6PM Central Time on January 23 – this show will NOT be archived! Anyone, anywhere, with and internet connection can come to this live performance. To learn more & buy a ticket, go to StageIt.