Mary Lambert inspires during MHC performance

February 20, 2014 5:00 pm0 commentsViews: 50
Mary Lambert performs in Chapin Auditorium on Sun., Feb. 16 for MHC and Five-College community members.

Photo by Malika Phanda ’14.
Mary Lambert performs in Chapin Auditorium on Sun., Feb. 16 for MHC and Five-College community members.

After a stunning year rising to the top of the music charts, Grammy Award nominee Mary Lambert performed at Mount Holyoke College on Sun., Feb. 16 in Chapin Auditorium. The event was planned by MHC Femmepowered and co-sponsored by the Conscious Poets Society, Doing it Live and WMHC Radio.

“[Lambert’s] name was brought up at the last meeting of last semester, and we decided we wanted to make it happen,” said Marnie Murray ’14, co-event coordinator from MHC Femmepowered. Lambert came straight from a week of recording in London to the East Coast, so she kindly and willingly fit Mount Holyoke into her schedule. “It was really convenient how it all worked out,” Murray commented. This was Femmepowered’s first event as an SGA funded student organization.

Lambert, a singer, songwriter and poet from Seattle, WA found her way to stardom after writing the chorus to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ chart topping song, “Same Love.” As an artist, Lambert presents a unique viewpoint as both a Christian and a lesbian. Her songs and poems discuss subjects ranging from LGBTQ issues to bipolarity to sexual assault.

“The way that she became famous gives her the clout to talk about issues that other people can’t,” Jocelyn Mosman ’17 said of the now widespread popularity of her songs, usually about taboo subjects. “She’s using her talent and fame to discuss situations that need to be discussed.”

The doors to Chapin Auditorium opened at 6:15 p.m. and the long line of people who had been waiting rushed in. The Nice Shoes gave a pre-show performance to a comfortably-filled Chapin, performing songs like Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and Sara Bareilles’ “Kaleidoscope Heart,” songs that complemented Lambert’s messages of love, acceptance and change.

Mosman gave the opening remarks to the concert on behalf of the Conscious Poets Society and performed a poem that she wrote, inspired by Mary Lambert’s work. “I didn’t know much about Mary Lambert before I knew she was coming,” Mosman said. “So I immersed myself in her [work] and now I absolutely adore her. She blows me away.” Mosman’s poem was extremely powerful, shocking the audience into a reflective silence when she delivered beautiful lines like “women are keeping their hearts like angel wings.” Her poem spoke of all of the pain, struggles and beauty in women that Lambert discusses in her own work—a perfect introduction to the artist herself.

After these introductions, Lambert unassumingly walked out onto the stage and was greeted with a roar of applause and excitement. “You know how to treat a lady!” she said, touched by such a warm welcome from the audience. Lights strung across the balcony and her warm personality made the performance feel like a concert in the park on a warm summer night. Her inviting anecdotes kept the audience on their feet through the night.

Lambert’s genuine smile struck a stark contrast with the somber messages of many of her songs. She introduced her first number, “Sarasavati,” with a bubbly voice saying, “I’m going to play you some really sad songs!” She followed with “Just Got Home” and a stunning spoken word piece about abuse. Her rich, silky voice caressed the air with her songs “Forget Me” and “This Heart,” while she pushed out the words to her spoken word pieces about rape and abuse that bounced off the walls and shattered the hall into silence.

Knowing the gravity of her work, she tried to keep the atmosphere light between songs, talking about her love for a cat, entertaining everyone with a rousing story about her encounter with Madonna at the Grammy rehearsals and even doing a cover of the “Pizza Bagel” jingle. “I legitimately feel bad doing shows sometimes,” she said half-way through the concert, “but I’m clinically bipolar and I want you to suffer!”

“She’s so honest about a lot of the experiences in her life,” Murray commented of Lambert. “Her message is really personal. She’s such a bubbly personality and then she speaks about issues that so many women can relate to.”

After her songs, Lambert would look up coyly at the audience to let them know she was done. But after a particularly powerful poem that left many with tears on their faces, she thanked the audience. “I always like to say thank you for letting me be vulnerable and letting yourselves be vulnerable, too,” Lambert mentioned.

She ended the night with her heartwarming “She Keeps Me Warm,” the song she adapted from the chorus she wrote for “Same Love,” and the audience brought her back for an encore of “Born Sad.”

Lambert had a stage presence that was perfect for the welcoming hall of Chapin and the audience that came to see her. At times, the hall was silent from everyone holding their breath, trying not to release their pent-up tears. Then at other times, the cheers of her old and new fans were deafening.

After her last bow, the crowd let out a collective sigh of amazement. “Mary Lambert is the type of person who can say things that can change your life,” Mosman said. It would not be a stretch to say that everyone left the concert Sunday night touched by the amazing presence of Lambert and reflecting on her ability to make difficult, relevant issues accessible.