If you don't know who Mary Lambert is already, you will soon. The 24-year-old from just north of Seattle is best known as the singer on "Same Love," a gay-rights anthem featured on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' popular debut album The Heist. Lambert, who is openly gay, will be releasing her own version of the track entitled "She Keeps Me Warm," set to debut later this month. It has no doubt been a whirlwind year for the young artist, who sat down with SheWired to describe her journey.
Lambert had a tumultuous upbringing she and has spoken candidly about the abuse she suffered as a child. "I had a pretty traumatic childhood," she said. "I ended up being a depressed eight-year-old. I was really, really sad." Desperately in need of an emotional outlet, Lambert’s obvious choice was music, an inclination that runs in her family. "We always had a piano in the house, and Mom always had her guitar," she added. Lambert continued to struggle with overcoming sexual abuse, bipolar disorder, and realizing her sexuality, but said she considers music to be what she can pinpoint as, "an immediate turnaround."
Lambert caught the performance itch when she was just barely a teenager. Laughing, she reminisced about her youthful conviction, saying, "I was 13 years old, and I walked down to Starbucks, and I said, 'do you need a live musician?'" Nevertheless, the Starbucks manager saw something in her, and she began to play free shows every Friday, collecting tips in her guitar case and averaging $40 a night. After two years of that, she was hooked.
Lambert was raised Pentecostal, and saw firsthand the prejudices many within the church have against the gay community when her mom came out as a lesbian. "My mom started dating women when I was six," she said, "and the church ostracized us." Growing up in poverty, their forced severance from the church took not only a toll on their faith-based lives, but also on their finances. "We were sort of a charity family, and so we lost all of that, and that connection to that community."
Despite that experience, Lambert continued to grow in her faith, and she soon discovered the Evangelical Church, which appealed to her ever-growing passion for music and her love of community and family. When she was 17, however, Lambert began her own struggle with her sexuality. "Even though my mom was gay, it never occurred to me that I could date women, and it's so funny because I was always attracted to women," she recounted. "I was like, 'I think women are way prettier than men.'" When she met the girl who would become her first girlfriend in high school, she said her coming out was almost instantaneous.
Still, Lambert and her girlfriend were both deeply Christian, and while their religious beliefs didn't deter them from pursuing their relationship, they decided they would ask for daily penance, in hopes of finding understanding and mercy from a God they had been taught saw them as sinners. "We did that for a bulk of our relationship, and then it's like I woke up, and I was like, 'this is so screwed up!'" Her doubt about the teachings of her church paralleled her certainty about her newfound sexuality. "I was like, there's no going back. Everything makes sense now."