Any conversation with Mary Lambert this season starts with one word: “Congratulations.” That could come because of her recent Grammy nomination for her role on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love,” (she lost, but her turn singing that song with Madonna was the broadcast’s musical highlight).
It could be congratulations because she is the first artist from the Macklemore camp to get a major-label record deal. Her debut is due later this year, and her Grammy exposure will help her quest for individual stardom.
Or it could be “congratulations” for 20 other reasons, one of which is that Lambert has an exceptionally beautiful voice, and her singing often brings audiences to tears.
She promises tears most certainly when she headlines the Showbox for the first time on Saturday. “I cry a lot when I have feelings,” she said from L.A., where she was working on the new album.
“This is a very vulnerable show,” Lambert said. “It’s inherently going to be a show with a lot of feelings, and some crying. I know it will be a beautiful homecoming.”
At least some of her emotion comes from the setting. Lambert lives in Belltown and walks by the Showbox and looks at the marquee. “I always see the names up there, but the day I walk by and see my name, will be emotional,” she says.
Lambert, 24, grew up in Everett and suffered an abusive childhood. Many of her songs address her struggles as a gay, Christian woman. She released her first EP in 2012 with Kickstarter funding, and quickly gained a reputation at poetry slams, and open mics around town.
Then a call came to sing on Macklemore’s “Same Love.” She wrote the chorus in two hours, and the song was a big part of the success of “The Heist.” “The idea that this one chorus I wrote is sung by people everywhere, and I was able to help facilitate that, that’s really meaningful to me,” she says.
Lambert’s new songs also explore the political, but mostly she writes about the emotional landscape, which isn’t exclusive to any one type of person. “I believe that human connection is the most important part of life, and that there is a disparity in our culture,” she says.
Lambert’s goal is to make her music a bridge between people. “I make sure I’m vulnerable and sincere,” she adds.
That kind of rare human sentiment — which isn’t about Grammy gold — is why Mary Lambert continues to make fans. And that sentiment alone is reason for “congratulations.”
9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1. at The Showbox, 1426 First Ave., Seattle; $15-$18 (206-628-3151 or showboxpresents.com).
Charles R. Cross: firstname.lastname@example.org