While Seattle’s Macklemore has gained national acclaim for his same-sex marriage anthem “Same Love,” it’s the female singer on the song who shines brightest on the moving track. And since the song hit it big, life hasn’t been the same for a formerly little known Capitol Hill poet, songwriter and bartender.
She dreamed about it, but it was the last thing Mary Lambert ever expected. She tells me in an interview for Seattle Sounds she’d never met Macklemore and his writing partner Ryan Lewis when a mutual friend suggested her to the duo for the song. They wanted someone who could write and sing a heartfelt chorus that conveyed the pain and hope of a gay woman defending her sexuality and pleading for the right to marry her lover.
“It’s delicate, you’re infecting something with that much weight and gravity you want to do this in a very delicate way and I totally understood what they were saying.”
Lambert, a 23-year-old gay woman who has frequently spoken out on the issue in her music and poetry, crafted what would become a simple yet absolutely stunning verse pulled from her heart, and the Bible.
She came up with the signature verses “I can’t change, even if I try, even if I wanted to, my love, my love, my love she keeps me warm.”
She also included a biblical verse to convey her own beliefs, including “Love is patient, love is kind” and “my conscience is clear, I’m good with God”.
“It’s always been my MO being a gay Christian. I think it was the first time my demographic really helps,” she laughs.
She admits she broke down in tears after recording the track, but she and everyone else could never have imagined the reaction. After the track was finished, she says they all thought “Same Love” would do well in Washington, especially as an anthem for R-74 and the effort to approve same-sex marriages. But little did she know just months later, she’d be singing the song for thousands in packed theaters and millions on the Ellen Show.
“I don’t think that we foresaw anything past that. It’s one of those things you joke about it was like, wouldn’t it be crazy if we did Ellen? Oh I can’t even think about that because I could never imagine doing that, and then it happened,” she says.
Since then, things have been a blur. Calls and requests have been pouring in for the “woman in that song.” But many are surprised to find her own music is a far cry from the powerhouse they hear on “Same Love.”
Lambert released her first EP “Letters Don’t Talk” last summer before “Same Love” came out. It’s admittedly much softer and quieter than the “belter” she’s become known as.
“I love doing that and it’s part of my musical theater and when I like to do any soul or blues, I bring that out but I would say that in my music it really beckons to a softer palette.”
Softer, but not shy. Lambert has been outspoken about both gay rights and body image, and just released a new book of poetry, “500 Tips for Fat Girls.” She’ll be reading from it and singing her songs Saturday night Jan. 19 at the Fremont Abbey before taking her solo show on the road for a national tour.
“I think body image is one of the biggest priorities women need to make in their lives, loving themselves and accepting themselves. This is an epidemic. Women are making themselves throw up and cutting themselves and binge drinking.”
Lambert says she’s incredibly grateful for the new found attention from “Same Love.” But she doesn’t want to forever be known as “that girl in that song.”
“I want to be able to go with the momentum that I have and show that my work is multi-faceted and there’s so much more I want to do.”
Seattle Sounds with Josh Kerns and Seattle Weekly music editor Chris Kornelis airs Saturday night at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM