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'Heart writers' David Francey and Mary Gauthier tell it like it is

07/26/2013 12:56 EDT | Updated 09/25/2013 05:12 EDT
All it takes is one song each and you know that David Francey and Mary Gauthier are the real deal: When either of them starts singing, everybody within earshot hangs on every word.

This was evident during their one hour set at CBC Vancouver Thursday afternoon, where the captivated audience spent the lunch hour listening to the powerful stories of these gifted troubadours.

It was a real treat considering it’s not often Mary and David get to play together.The two are good friends but they live far apart: Mary calls Nashville home and David lives in rural Ontario.

They became fast friends after playing numerous festivals together and realizing that they come from a similar place as songwriters.

Both Mary and David didn’t start performing professionally until they were in their 40s and they are grateful they waited this long to share their personal stories with the world.

Mary said it best during their show yesterday when she proudly declared, "we are heart writers, not hit writers." She also pointed out that in the music industry artists often have to make the choice between "hearts or charts."

Fortunately, both songwriters are thrilled to be doing what they love and they are looking forward to find out what the future holds for their music.

CBC associate producer Bianca Cervantes sat down with the award winning artists to talk about their careers and why they are not jaded by the music industry.

Q: What do you like most about playing music together?

David: Oh well I’m a huge fan. I was a fan of Mary’s from the moment she opened her mouth on that stage. I’ve followed her career and been happy for her. We get to bump into one another every now and again and I’d like to bump into her more often but in this life we can’t do it. Whenever I see Mary on the bill I think "a kindred spirit, that’s good, I’ll have somebody to talk to."

Mary: I second that. The first time I heard David I knew, this is a spiritual brother and we’re walking the same road. I listen to David’s music at home and I find it helps me when I’m depressed and it uplifts me. I also deeply appreciate the opportunity to be friends with someone I admire.

Q: You both started your professional music careers as adults. What was that like?

David: Well it was a hell of a good change going from construction to this. I’d written so many songs on the job site and I was ready to make a move so when it worked out it was great. I’m not jaded at all and I’m still enjoying the heck out of things. I wouldn’t want to trade it now that’s for sure.

Mary: Same thing. Song writing beats the heck out of being in a kitchen stirring pots. I think David and I are both examples of how it’s possible to have more than one career and how it’s possible in the middle of your life to walk away from what you do and try something new. I don’t want to speak for David but I think that we enjoy it more than people who have done it since their 20s because it’s exciting to us. It’s fun when people come to the shows and pay 20 bucks and sit down and listen. I can’t believe it! I don’t expect it and I don’t take it for granted. I’m honoured and humbled and thrilled by it.

Q: When did you start writing songs?

David: I’m sure Mary you are like me, you wrote all that time when you were just working and that’s what I think the nicest part is. I just wrote away in solitude and silence and didn’t expect to do anything with it and then fortunately it became the vehicle to get out of what I was doing. If I’d done it earlier I don’t know what I would have written about quite frankly. So it took a lot of years and the songs are mostly autobiographical. I mean we’ve lived and we write about living and people can hang their hat on a lot of the stuff we’ve written.

Mary: I think so too. With the type of songs David and I write it takes a lot of living to get to the universal truths of the individual experience. Instead of seeing it as my experience I understand it as a human experience. So I’m not just talking about me when I talk about me. In my 20s, when I was talking about me I was only talking about me!

If you missed David Francey and Mary Gauthier at the Musical Nooner Thursday, you can catch them at the Mission Folk Music Festival this weekend. Be sure to check out CBC’s Musical Nooners, a free summer concert series, every weekday from noon to 1 p.m. until Aug. 23 at 700 Hamilton Street.

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