Artist Bio

Mary Lambert had just quit her third job as a barista when her whole life changed. An aspiring singer-songwriter who also worked as a brunch waitress and bartender, she got a call from her friend Hollis Wong-Wear, who had sung and written on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “White Walls.” Wong-Wear had recommended her to the duo, who were struggling to write a chorus for their new song, a marriage-equality anthem called “Same Love.” “Hollis said, ‘Ryan’s going to send you the track. You have three 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.”

The result is the transcendent chorus to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ double-platinum hit “Same Love,” which Lambert wrote from her vantage point of being both a Christian and a lesbian. “The song already had a brain,” she says. “I wanted to give it a heart and make a very simple statement that my love is valid, too.” Writing and singing the hook led to Lambert’s first Grammy Award nominations (for “Song Of The Year” and “Album Of The Year”), performing “Same Love” with Macklemore and Lewis on the MTV Video Music Awards, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and The Colbert Report, and joining the duo on their fall tour. It also opened the door for Lambert to sign with Capitol Records, which releases her EP, Welcome To The Age Of My Body, in December, followed by a full-length album, produced by Eric Rosse (Tori Amos, Sara Bareilles), next year. The EP’s first single, “She Keeps Me Warm,” is an extension of “Same Love” that Lambert calls “the other side of the story.” It peaked at No. 2 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart. Its accompanying video sets the song to a visual of the romantic love experienced in a same-sex partnership. “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.”

In many ways, Lambert isn’t your typical major-label pop artist. Inspired by confessional folk singers as well as spoken-word performers, she is a brutally candid writer who deals directly in her art with such past traumas as being raised in a strict Pentecostal household, abusing drugs and alcohol before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, surviving a gang rape at 17, and being molested repeatedly by her father as a child. “It’s important for me to be completely and totally open,” Lambert says. To that end, Welcome To The Age Of My Body features the dark, desperate “Sarasvati,” which Lambert says she hopes “sparks people’s ability to be vulnerable and say, ‘Yeah, there have been times when I’ve thought about killing myself, too. Maybe I can talk about it.’” The EP is bookended with two versions of a partially spoken-word piece set to skittering rhythms and electronic textures called “Body Love.” Part 1 is aggressively critical about the self-destructive side of negative body image, while Part 2 comes from a softer place of acceptance. “You are no less valuable as a size 16 than a size 4,” she declares.

Because Lambert wants her art to lift people up, not take them down, she balances her presentation with healthy doses of humor. In conversation, she is upbeat, funny, and engaging. She often kicks off her live show with her saddest song, “Sarasvati,” and asks the audience, “Okay, are you ready to get fucked up?”

“The shows are really intense,” she admits. “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.”

Lambert always wanted to be a performer, but figured it was a long-shot. Growing up poor in Everett, Wash., she began playing piano and writing songs at age six, taught herself to play guitar at 10, and fell in love with such folk-inspired artists as Tracy Chapman, Indigo Girls, and James Taylor as a teen. She studied classical composition at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts and planned to be a middle-school music teacher. “Yes, I wanted to sustain myself through my art, but less than one in a million musicians gets that life,” she says. “So rather than being like, ‘I’m an exception!’, I thought I’d get a real job.”

At 19, Lambert experienced a pivotal moment when she discovered spoken-word poetry. “I was on a manic stint for three days and partying real hard without sleeping,” she says. “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. I watched a couple of different poets, Anis Mojgani and Shira Erlichman, and I became obsessed. I knew I had to do it, that it was another part of me that needed to be explored.” 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 and has independently released a book of poetry, entitled, 500 Tips for Fat Girls. The book is a frank depiction of rape, incest, bi-polarity, body image, and homosexuality that has, along with her music, established Lambert as a fearless and outspoken gay voice in contemporary culture.

“The fact that my work has affected people on a personal level is what I’ve always wanted as an artist,” she says. “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.”

93 Responses to Artist Bio

  1. lindsay dean says:

    Hey now that you’ve denigrated, negated and made bi-polar people look like idiots with your song, “Secrets,” I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next for people suffering from cancer!

    • Victoria says:

      I don’t think she’s denigrated, negated, or made an idiot of people with bipolar disorder. She’s admitting personal “secrets” in a song who’s lighthearted sound and inclusion of humor balance its seriousness. Society makes it hard to share or admit some thing about ourselves, and this song encourages that it’s ok. It might be different if she were making spurious claims or mocking the situation, but instead it seems to be a heartfelt declaration of self in support of others being themselves.

    • Vicky says:

      I have bipolar disorder. I am not well managed and its a daily struggle to live my life and act “normal”. One of the hardest things is pretending I’m fine, hiding my illness from friends, professor, members of the community for fear of rejection. I love the song because it inspires me to love the me I am and hope the world can do the same realizing we all have “secrets”.

    • Dawn says:

      Really? You find it negative? I find it promising that someone is bringing forward and talking about it. Why should we be ashamed?

  2. Nirmal singh says:

    Wow! Hi! I’m a straight woman, n I gotta say u rock. U r a person of substance, ur not a fake or show off and ur music is real n honest. Keep up the great work, I wish you and your gf nothing but great things.

  3. Sarah M. says:

    Sweet, humble, and truly awake. Mary’s performance
    On z100 gave me chills. Beautiful.

  4. Anghee says:

    I literally just fell in love with “she keeps me warm”. You have an amazing voice and I hope to hear more of you.

  5. Lillian Echols says:

    Hey Mary,
    I came out to my mother when I was 14 but most of my family did not know I was bisexual until I became engaged to a woman. She is the light of my life and I just wanted to tell you that we are planning to dance to She Keeps Me Warm as our first dance when we have our ceremony. This song is so wonderful because that is exactly how I feel about my fiancee and we love how the music video is about a loving lesbian relationship instead of two girls rolling around in lingerie. We also had a relationship that started like the music video, trying to catch each others eye when I would see her at her job, too nervous to talk, but then we finally started talking and fell in love. That is why we want your to dance together to your amazing song.
    THANK YOU!!!

  6. Katlin says:

    Hi I’m Katlin and I’m 15. Hearing your music just makes me smile. You accept who you are and aren’t afraid to show it. I love your song “Sarasvati” its beautiful and shows many things. I have thought and at one point attempted suicide myself hearing this song from one of my one and only favorite artist is great. Mary your a great inspiration for all and I hope you keeping going and showing everyone how great your music really is.
    ~ Katlin

  7. Sheryn says:

    I really respect and admired and love you so much Mary. For me someone’s sexuality doesn’t really matter. I care most about someone’s heart, their personality. I don’t care about someone’s body shape or size or anything else.
    I love you because of your heart, and I swear you’re beautiful regardless what anybody else says. I honestly think people say what they say is because they’re either frustrated that you are confident with yourself, self-conscious themselves or they are just narrow-minded.
    I always dreamed of performing for people, of being an artist and getting to write songs which can influence people’s lives and make the world a better place. I’m writing songs, but I don’t have stories for them. No matter. I will have them soon.
    Thank you so much for helping to change the world Mary.
    You’re beautiful inside and out, and God bless you.

  8. finestfox says:

    I’ve only recently discovered you, and I can’t believe I’ve gone this long without hearing your voice and your story. I am a queer woman, a sexual abuse survivor, and I have hips of destruction. You are the first musician that I’ve ever been able to truly relate to. Thank you so much for sharing your art. You’re going to change millions of lives.

  9. Nixon says:

    Mary Lambert, you are officially my idol for the rest of time, I am so sorry of what you went through during your teen years, no person should ever go through that, not even the cruelest person on the planet. I love your song Body Love Part 1, it makes me feel more comfortable about myself, even though I am the thinnest in my grade, but I have grow up being beaten by mother and called names, once I got bullied and ended up slapping him :). Mary don’t let people bring you down, I know what it is like to feel suicidal because, I have tried multiple times D:, I but right before I succeed I think of the people who love me.

    Thank you for letting me rant, you are amazing!

  10. Denise Quint says:

    Dear Mary,

    I am a straight, large, funny woman who is very happily married. I LOVE your music. I love your voice, tone, honesty and humor. Your collaboration with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis is genius. What a wonderful inspiration you are to so many, yet I just really dig your music, honey. Keep it coming!

    Denise in Maine

  11. DONNA says:

    Mary you were truly a shining star on the Grammies….YOU GO GIRL!!

  12. newarkschool says:

    You are so awesome Mary Lambert!

  13. Carolyn Hall says:

    KEEP UP KEEPING US UP ! YOU ARE GREAT WITH IN YOURSELF. GOD BLESS YOU. HE LOVES YOU SO MUCH. I LOVE YOU MUCH.

  14. janna says:

    Hey Mary,
    I love how your so comfortable with your self. I struggled with bullying, and about my size as well. You inspired me in so many ways, I can’t completely come out but i feel like i’m getting there! Thank you please keep doing what your doing! PLEASE don’t stop! <3

    • Nixon says:

      Are you homosexual? Because if you are, I love you even if you aren’t because people need to be less judgey more lovey!

  15. Joy Daniels says:

    I just saw/heard you on Jay Leno for the 1st time. Wow a gorgeous young lady, talented and a lesbian to boot, triple win!! I wouldn’t have probably lingered too long from goofing off on the computer, but whoa, what a beautiful voice, then I started to listen to the lyrics…..hahahah! yeah honey!, you like girls & aren’t afraid to sing about it. Good for you, be comfortable in your own skin, surround yourself with people who truly care for you, & sing your heart out!!! btw, love the colorful ink.
    wrecked hip from texas
    (I’m recovering from the 5th hip surgery)

  16. Anna Salazar-Islas says:

    I love your music so much! You’re so inspiring and me being a 12 year old girl I have some challenges with school and friends. But I’ve had a pretty bad year and I can always just listen to your music and I ALWAYS feel better. I think you’re such a beautiful woman and you’re definitely my biggest role model! I love all of the truth that you sing about in your amazingly wonderful music. In “I know girls (BodyLove)” I literally cried the first time i heard it because it’s so true and it’s exactly how I’ve felt my entire life. Like i needed to fit into societies image of perfection but now I know that there’s nothing more beautiful than knowing that you’re beautiful. You give me so much courage and I love everything that you stand for. You are just such a beautiful, gorgeous, intelligent, courageous person. I hope that one day I’ll be just like you with all of your courage. I hope that one day I can look at myself and say “I am such a gorgeous person”. I hope that one day I meet you because you have no idea what just one song does to a young girl like me, it reminds me that I am a very strong person who doesn’t need to take crap from anyone. I just really hope that you see this because you make such a positive impact on people! I’m so happy that I have music to help me get through every heartbreak, every party, every kiss, every bad day, every good day, every moment of feeling like you’re not good enough and turning around and seeing the good in life. Music influences me and I just love everything about you. Because of you I know that it’s okay to feel sad and it’s okay to laugh, even when it’s a little unnecessary, it’s okay to talk about how pretty you feel in that dress and it’s okay to say you love yourself for this this and this because my generation is all about thigh gaps and how many followers you have on instagram. With all of my love and wishes and hopes, Anna.

    • Denise Dries says:

      Anna, I was looking up information about Mary Lambert, as I think ‘she is incredible as well’, and I came across this site. I am a Mother of 3, who has been married to my husband for 27 years….) After reading all about Mary Lambert, I continued down the page and saw the various posts that were written. I had no intention of leaving a post of my own, but after reading ‘yours’, I felt the need to. Anna, please, ‘read the post you wrote’ over….no matter how many times you’ve already read it yourself! I hope that when ‘you read it over’, you “see” what I see…..First of all, I cannot believe how well spoken you are for being 12 years old! You seem ‘wise beyond your years’ on so many levels! The Beauty and Courage that shines through your writing is incredible!! I can tell YOU are such a BEAUTIFUL person Anna! Trust me when I say that there is not one person out there that doesn’t struggle in their life now and then ~ and like you, I find music “lifts me” through the tough times and helps me to “dance along through the good times”!!! It doesn’t matter what age you are, (I’ll be 50 years old next month!!! Although I honestly don’t feel like I could possibly be THAT old!!! LOL!!!), what size you are, what color you are, what your sexual orientation is……I believe it comes down to ‘what is in your heart’. And for most of this ‘long, old’ life of mine :) – I have found that I am a pretty good judge of ‘good hearts’ ~ and I just wanted you to know Anna, that I believe that YOU HAVE A BEAUTIFUL HEART and you have SO MUCH to offer this world, and like Mary Lambert, ‘you can be an incredible role model for others’!!! Much LOVE and RESPECT being sent out to you!!! Stay true to yourself and keep the music turned up!!!

  17. Adriana says:

    I love you, if I do not get to see you one day, I will cry.

    • Debra says:

      JESUS loves you!! Cry for him, he’s the one who will
      One day save your life IF he is your idol not Mary.

  18. Cassi says:

    Hi Mary! My name is Cassi, and I’m a 16 year old girl.
    I read that you take all orders yourself, so I thought I would write to you about how much of an inspiration you are to me. “She Keeps Me Warm” helped me come out of the closet, and “Body Love” helped me overcome my eating disorder. I’m getting a tattoo of a treetrunk with leaves sprouting out over the word “Reborn” in your honor. Thank you so much for making your music! I was excited to see Welcome to the Age of My Body today on my Spotify, but was upset to see Letters Don’t Talk disappear.
    “Sarasvati” is helping me accept my depression and suicidal tendencies. The power behind your work is huge.
    Thank you so, so, so much for singing and writing! I owe you my life a million times over. I hope to meet you one day, and see you in concert once you become bigger.
    Keep singing and remember me.
    -Cassi

  19. Nikki cruz says:

    Hello there, random citizen! C:

    You are simply awesome in your performance last night at Portchester.

    I sat all the way in the back drinking my beer and next thing I know you just sang right through my heart and I was like wtf. This is the girl! Like in one of those Disney movies. Lol.

    This is a VERY long shot and an honor for me, to take you out for dinner,lunch and Breakfast every other day for the rest of your life if you let me.

    You just turn me into smitten mode! C:

    -Just a simple girl in Yonkers <3

  20. Mariah says:

    I saw you on Macklemore first part of his tour in Portland, Or. You voice is even better live and your beauty shines through every lyric. Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

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