Please enjoy browsing our gallery of pictures from MERCY & MAGIC, our third annual fundraiser, featuring Mary Gauthier and Wally Lamb.
Missed the show? Here's a recap by our Spring 2017 Vanderbilt intern, Hannah Fowler:
Following opening remarks from Porch founders Susannah Felts and Katie McDougall, as well as a few testimonials from Porch members, singer/songwriter Mary Gauthier opened up the show with what could be considered the unofficial anthem of the event, a song called “Mercy Now.” She set the tone for the evening splendidly by crooning, “Every single one of us could use a little mercy now.”
Gauthier wrapped up her first set with a few questions from Korby Lenker, who then introduced author Wally Lamb. Lamb read an excerpt from his 2010 novel Wishin’ and Hopin’, to which his most recent publication, I’ll Take You There, is something of a sequel. Both novels follow Felix Funicello, a distant cousin of the famous Mouseketeer Annette, and the bit he read involved Felix’s sister’s struggles with anorexia.
The intermission presented what I—and others I spoke to—found to be the highlight of the show, a reading from local poets Ciona Rouse and Destiny Birdsong. Rouse and Birdsong are both part of Poetry on Demand, a Porch program in which writers listen to the personal stories of participants and immediately churn out a poem. Prior to the show, Rouse and Birdsong sat down with Lamb and Gauthier. (Keep an eye—or in this case, ear—out! Poetry on Demand is soon to be a podcast called Versify, in partnership with Nashville Public Radio and PRX!)
Rouse presented a heartrending poem about Lamb’s longtime friendship with a man who initially wrote him to say that his work had saved his life. Birdsong read a lighter-hearted but no less breathtaking poem about Gauthier’s first performance at the Ryman, the Mother Church of Country Music.
The second half of the show focused on the impressive work that Lamb and Gauthier have done in helping others tell their stories. Gauthier is part of a program called Songwriting With Solidiers, an organization that pairs veterans, active duty military, and the partners of servicemen with musicians in order to craft songs about their experiences. For his part, Lamb has spent nearly two decades teaching creative writing classes in women’s prison. The performers rounded out the show by sharing the work they had collaborated on in these programs.