Mary Lambert: Honest, Vulnerable, Refreshing

By Francesca Lewis
ML1

If, like us, you’re desperate to see more of rising star Mary Lambert, fear not – your prayers will soon be answered. Lambert has big plans for next year, including the release of her highly anticipated full-length album and what promises to be a show-stopping performance at The Dinah Shore.

The Seattle-based artist, a self-proclaimed femme lesbian, hit the headlines in mid-2012 when her collaboration with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the gay rights anthem “Same Love,” accumulated 350,000 YouTube views in 24 hours and reached number 11 on The Billboard Hot 100, selling over a million copies in the US alone. A sincere appeal for tolerance, the song was written and recorded in just two hours during the campaign for Washington State Referendum 74, which resulted in legalizing same-sex marriage.

Following the success of this ground-breaking track, which boasts some very unusual hip hop lyrics – “When I was in the third grade I thought I was gay” – Lambert went on to expand upon the song’s mega-catchy “she keeps me warm” chorus, with a song of the same name. Accompanied by a heartwarming video depicting two women falling in love, the song’s openly, unabashedly lesbian lyrics have made it an instant classic, certain to crop up at most same-sex weddings.

Lambert has had a rather fascinating, and challenging, life so far. Brought up in the Pentecostal church in an abusive household, her family was excommunicated when she was six after her mother came out as a lesbian. Drawn to passion and conviction of Evangelicalism, Mary went straight from one disapproving environment to another. As she hints at in “Same Love” – “Not crying on Sundays” – she would leave church every Sunday in tears and pray to be forgiven. After she was raped at the age of 17, she spiraled into depression and self-destruction, later discovering that she was bipolar. It is this painful troubled past that makes Lambert’s achievements, and her positive attitude, all the more impressive.

Mary Lambert "She Keeps Me Warm"

What you may not know about Lambert is that as well as being a talented singer-songwriter, she is also an award-winning spoken word artist. In fact, she represented Seattle in 2008’s Brave New Voices International Poetry Competition and won Seattle’s Grand Slam Poetry Competition & the Northwest Regional Poetry Slam in Portland. Earlier this year, she released a book, 500 Tips for Fat Girls. Often mistaken for a self-help book, it is actually a book of poems surrounding body image, rape and relationships. The title poem, which Lambert describes as “about misogyny, self-hatred and media pressures” is a scathing, powerful litany of the rules we think we have to follow in order to fit in.

always turn the light off before fucking
always lie on your stomach, always be on a diet,
always be generous, always smile,
don’t be a bitch- don’t be a fat bitch”

Lambert’s debut EP, released not long before “Same Love,” Letters Don’t Talk, is a beautifully melancholic collection of five songs, equal parts angry and hopeful. She has stated that her favorite song from the EP is “I Know Girls (Body Love)” – a mix of spoken word and traditional song-writing, and we have to agree. 

“take your hands over your bumpy lovebody naked
and remember the first time you touched someone
with the sole purpose of learning all of them
touched them because the light was pretty on them
and the dust in the sunlight danced the way your heart did
touch yourself with a purpose”

As a poet and as a singer, whether she is talking body positivity or queer rights, Lambert’s focus is on the spectrum of human experience. Her honest, vulnerable voice is refreshing in its willingness to show not only her strength and her politics but also her insecurity and rage. Already known for her emotional performances, during which she frequently cries, she is not only in touch with her own emotions, but able to coax out those of her audience. Lambert is like some kind of cathartic goddess, helping us purge our sadness and fear, all the while reminding us that humanity is a beautiful, precious thing.

Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs, CA, the largest lesbian event in the world, will be the perfect setting for Lambert’s first major solo live performance. She will perform on Sunday, April 6, 2014 in the official host city of The Dinah, Palm Springs, CA, at the Hilton Hotel, for the grand finale of The Dinah’s fabled series of pool parties (marylambertsings.com).

Get your tickets to see Lambert live at The Dinah here.

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