By David-Elijah Nahmod, Sept. 25, 2014.
You’ve heard her name, you’ve heard her voice and, earlier this year, when she took part in the groundbreaking mass wedding at the Grammys, the you finally saw Mary Lambert in action.
As Queen Latifah officiated the on-camera nuptials for 33 couples — many of them same-sex couples — Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed “Same Love,” their heartfelt ode to marriage equality on which Lambert belts the powerful (and unforgettable) hook.
And, as Lambert and Madonna took to the stage alongside the Seattle-based hip-hop duo, the Grammys audience jumped to its feet and cheered for the couples that said their on-camera “I Dos.”
“Same Love” samples Lambert’s “She Keeps Me Warm” — perhaps the first lesbian love ballad to become a hit pop song. From there, Lambert and Madonna launched into a duet of Madonna’s “Open Your Heart,” before segueing back to the final bars of Lambert’s first single to hit airwaves. Lambert appeared to be fighting back tears in this as the shouts of approval from the audience escalated to a fever pitch.
On the heels of “She Keeps Me Warm,” Lambert released her next single, “Secrets,” in which she sings candidly about her battle with bipolar disorder and her dysfunctional family. It’s a brave piece of music that allows listeners a peek inside her private life.
Lambert, 25, spoke with Echo about her career-defining appearance at the Grammys, her musical journey and her upcoming full-length album, Heart on My Sleeve (read Cait Brennan’s album review here).
Echo: How did it feel, so early in your career, to perform with Madonna at the Grammys wedding?
Lambert: It was really huge, pivotal, an affirmation of what I do and what we’ve accomplished. As the date came closer to the performance I realized that it has nothing to do with me. This is about the shift in our culture.
Echo: At what age did you realize that you’re a lesbian? Was the process difficult?
Lambert: My mom came out when I was six or seven. That’s not difficult to process before you’re tainted by society. I came out much later. Before that I was boy crazy, so it hit me like a ton of bricks. The only lesbians I knew in high school were very femme, not my type. I like more of a tomboy type, so I thought, “I’m not gay.”
One of the people who helped me come out was a close friend who was thrown out of a Christian school for being gay. His parents sent him to Exodus (ex-gay ministry).
Echo: Wow, do you find it difficult for you to balance your Christian faith with your lesbianism?
Lambert: Our faith is our own personal story. I have a strong faith that I prefer to keep personal.
Echo: You seem to be very much in the vein of the singer/songwriters, like Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez, who were popular in the ’60s and ’70s.
Lambert: I like to say that I never intended to be a pop singer, I intended to be a healer. I hope to urge people to be empathetic and compassionate. People don’t relate to each other or see each other as equals, and this causes problems. I want to open up and be vulnerable, and to encourage others to be vulnerable.
Echo: Your new song, “Secrets,” is so personal and revealing. What kind of responses have you gotten from listeners?
Lambert: I’ve gotten nothing but support. It’s all about love. If I had heard songs like “Same Love” and “She Keeps Me Warm” at age 17, it would have been life-changing.
Mary Lambert is bringing “Heart on My Sleeve” to Arizona! She will play Tempe’s Club Red Nov. 9, click here for ticket information.