Mary Gauthier

If Mary Gauthier hasn't considered writing a book about her life she really should, and if there's an imaginative filmmaker out there looking for a true story of despair and redemption, then Gauthier should get a call. This is an artist who believes music saved her life and who says of her journey: "I know in my heart that I should be dead. Most of my friends are dead. The way I lived, I had no respect at all for my own life. So I'm living on borrowed time - and there's liberation in that."

A runaway at the age of 15, Gauthier stole her adoptive parents' car to escape Baton Rouge, Louisiana, only to find herself in detox, a halfway house and living again with her mother. She ran away again - once more experiencing detox and a halfway house - and says she was "off and running for a good ten years". She spent her 18th birthday in jail, and what followed were years of drug and alcohol abuse. But somehow during this time she managed to hold down jobs and had the determination to attend the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in Massachusetts and open her own Cajun restaurant, Dixie Kitchen, in Boston.

While Gauthier loved the creative part of running her own business, the rest was a chore. All the pieces in her life began to click into place, however, when she got clean and sober and wrote her first song at the age of 35. She released her debut, 'Dixie Kitchen', in 1997 and since then the plaudits have followed for 'Drag Queens in Limousines' (1999), 'Filth & Fire' (2002) and her latest, 'Mercy Now'. Through these albums Gauthier has become one of the most captivating American singer-songwriters recording today, who can summon a dark intensity few can match. Her career is a lesson for anyone: whatever it is that's wrong in your life, it's never too late to change it.