This is Mary Lambert. You know her as the female voice on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ hit “Same Love.”
1. Before she became well-known for her chorus on their song, she was an aspiring singer-songwriter who worked as a brunch waitress and bartender.
2. Her friend, Hollis Wong-Wear, who has sung on the duo’s “White Walls,” knew Mary was a struggling songwriter. She recommended Mary to the guys, who were trying to write a chorus to “Same Love.”
“Hollis said, ‘Ryan’s going to send you the track. You have two hours,’” Lambert recalls. “I got off the phone and ran across the street to the bar where I worked and told my boss everything. We did a shot, then I sabered a bottle of champagne with a sword. Then I was like, ‘Okay, I’ve gotta fucking write this thing.’ Priorities.”
3. She wrote the chorus for “Same Love” from her vantage point of being both a Christian and a lesbian.
4. She was nominated for two Grammy awards for “Song of the Year” and “Album of the Year” with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
Macklemore, Mary Lambert, Madonna, Ryan Lewis and Queen Latifah perform “Same Love” at the 56th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles Jan. 26.
5. “Same Love” also got Mary a recording contract with Capital Records.
Her EP, Welcome To The Age Of My Body, was released in December, and she has a full-length album, produced by Eric Rosse (Tori Amos, Sara Bareilles), coming out next year.
6. Her first single off her EP, “She Keeps Me Warm,” is an extension of “Same Love,” that Lambert calls “the other side of the story.” The music video features a relationship between two women.
“She Keeps Me Warm” peaked at No. 2 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart.
7. “The video is about visibility,” Lambert says. “I could be wrong, but I’ve never seen a relationship like mine accurately portrayed in a music video.”
8. She was raised in a strict Pentecostal household.
9. She began playing piano and writing songs at age six and taught herself to play guitar at age ten.
10. She abused drugs and alcohol before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
11. She survived a gang rape at age 17.
12. She was molested repeatedly by her father as a child.
13. She discovered spoken-word poetry at 19. After watching poets Anis Mojgani and Shira Erlichman on YouTube, she became obsessed.
Anis Mojgani (left) and Shira Erlichman (right)
“There I am chain-smoking and watching YouTube videos in my bedroom at 6 a.m. when a spoken-word video comes on the screen,” she wrote. “I knew I had to do it, that it was another part of me that needed to be explored.”
14. She sprinkles each show with humor to liven the mood.
“I have a very specific poem about rape that maybe I’ll be able to release someday, but it’s really important for me to perform it at my shows. You can literally see people sobbing. And I’m sobbing. So I feel like the only way that people are going to go home and not be severely depressed is if I start telling them jokes.”
15. She was hesitant to put her song “Sarasvati” on her EP because she wrote it around the time she attempted suicide at 19.
“I wrote this as sort of a love song to death that also contains the sentiment of being sickly co-dependent within a relationship – in a way that you would allow yourself to totally self-destruct for another person,” she wrote on her website. “I don’t recommend listening to this for light background music with your mee-maw, but maybe if your grandmother is hard of hearing and likes a lot of chord changes, then go nuts for cowboy butts and take it to grams and gramps house for an after-pie listening party! Truthfully, my hope is that rather than seeing this as a sad song, you might see it as an exploration of vulnerability.”
18. She studied classical composition at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts and planned to be a middle-school music teacher.
“Yes, I would loved to have just sustained myself through my art, but less than one in a billion musicians gets that life,” she says. “So rather than being like, ‘I’m an exception!’, like a moron, I thought I’d get a real job.”
19. In 2008, she represented Seattle in the Brave New Voices International Poetry Competition, which was filmed for HBO. She also won Seattle’s Grand Slam Poetry Competition in 2011.
20. She independently released a book of poetry, 500 Tips for Fat Girls, about rape, incest, bi-polarity, body image, and homosexuality.
21. She wants to help people feel safe enough to come out.
“After a show over the summer, a girl came up to me who was a pastor at her church, which was not accepting of same-sex relationships. She said that ‘Same Love’ allowed her to come out regardless of the consequences. The fact that music was able to do that? That I could have been a part of that, and that she felt safe enough to tell me? I know how strong you have to be to do that. If I can give that fight to somebody, then I want to keep doing it.”