Songwriting with Soldiers

NPR's 50 Best Albums of 2018

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

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL LIST

“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

Saved By A Song: TEDxLincolnSquare

"Trauma goes deeper than words. But music can get into those places."
 
TEDxLincolnSquare has posted my TED Talk "Saved By A Song."  I spoke in New York City recently about the process of using songs and songwriting to articulate difficult stories to create resonance and human connection. It was not easy to get it all said in the time allowed, but I think I came pretty close.

A huge thanks to Tricia Brouk for being an amazing TED Director
and Talk Leader!

Click HERE to Watch

Americana Album of the Year Nomination

Wow! What an honor to be nominated for Album of the Year by
The Americana Music Association! 

Neilson Hubbard produced Rifles & Rosary Beads beautifully, and brought in the perfect band for these songs. Michele Gazich came in with his violin from Italy and we had an amazing week recording in the little recording studio Neilson built in my house. The tracking came together fast, and I knew right away that the sound he got was right for these songs.

I am deeply grateful to the Americana membership for nominating this project.

MAJOR CONGRATS
to all the Veteran co-writers and to the wives.
WE DID THIS TOGETHER!

Thank you to SongwritingWith:Soldiers for letting me be a part of your visionary work with Veterans.

Good luck, love and deep respect to all the Record of the Year nominees:
Brandi Carlile, Margo Price and Jason Isbell.

All Award Winners will be announced September 12th at the Americana Honors & Awards Show at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

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).

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?

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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