Music News & Reviews

A Durham stop in the middle of Mary Lambert’s ‘moment’

Mary Lambert, best known for her singing on the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis hit “Same Love,” will perform at Motorco Music Hall in Durham on Friday.
Mary Lambert, best known for her singing on the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis hit “Same Love,” will perform at Motorco Music Hall in Durham on Friday. GETTY

Mary Lambert is having a moment.

It’s easy to tell when a musical artist is having one: a simple email request for an interview soon requires eight people cc’ed to find the correct person in charge of said requests. Schedules quickly fill up with appearances on VH1, or with tours of multibillion-dollar companies that may sponsor a tour somewhere down the line. Squeezing in 15 minutes to do local promo work is nearly impossible.

Thankfully, the artist best known for her appearance on Macklemore’s huge hit “Same Love,” seems to be taking it all in stride. When we finally connect to discuss her new headlining tour, which makes a stop at Motorco Music Hall in Durham tonight, and her new debut full-length album “Heart on My Sleeve,” Lambert acknowledges her situation.

“This is my biggest moment as an artist,” Lambert says. “Obviously there will be another album, but I wrote all of the songs for ‘Heart’ over the last 10 or so months, so it feels good to show my evolution as a musical artist. I’m just so proud.”

Lambert has already led a more eclectic artistic life than most singers twice her age. At 25, she has written and self-published a critically acclaimed book of poetry (2013’s “500 Tips for Fat Girls”), and has watched as a song she helped create led to one of the more talked-about moments in recent Grammy history – “Same Love” performed live onstage with Madonna while Queen Latifah read wedding vows for the 33 couples, many of whom were same-sex.

Lambert says she had no second thoughts before the big Grammy show.

“I loved it,” she says. “It wasn’t just the scale of it, or just because it was the Grammys, or just because it was Madonna; it was the effect of the performance itself, because in the weeks leading up to it, I realized it was less and less about my career, and more to do with social change and the impact on society. I am proud of that moment, and it gave me further direction in where I wanted to go and solidified my path, and my path has always been to make an impact for good.”

Making a positive impact is something Lambert strives for in all of her live performances. The singer references her troubled childhood in the emotionally charged songs she writes – songs that touch her audience members. Lambert has said publicly that she considers her performances to be “a safe place where crying is okay, even encouraged.”

Some fans consider an experience like this to be cathartic, but others may view it as a bummer of a night.

“I try to tell a lot of jokes and be as charismatic as possible when I’m onstage to sort of balance the heaviness that I’m singing about,” she says. “I don’t want anyone to go home feeling bad . . . I want people to come out and feel uplifted and joyous, but I think there is a wide spectrum of things that people need to feel that they are scared to feel, or are uncomfortable feeling.”

So while Lambert is having her big moment, fans can still catch her shows in an intimate setting. And though she resists acknowledging that those days of small venues may soon be over, she does recognize that her career has had a remarkable trajectory.

“I don’t know what’s in store for me in the future, because I’ve had a very interesting touring career so far,” she said. “I started with Macklemore doing clubs the size of the ones I’m doing now, and then when ‘Thrift Store’ blew up for him, we went immediately to arenas. Then I went on a small solo tour, with my best friend opening for me . . . then I opened in the Midwest for Gavin DeGraw’s amphitheater tour, where no one knew who I was.

“But this for me has been the most rewarding, because I get to do exactly what I want to do – to put on the show that I’ve always wanted to do. That means more to me than the size of the club, because I’m more interested in connecting with people. Actually, the size of these shows really lends themselves to making intimate connections with people, which I really, really like. I’m okay if it gets bigger, but I’m really okay in this spot.”