Last year brought all kinds of surprises to the pop-music world, from JT’s big comeback to Kanye’s even bigger marriage proposal. Still, looking back, we’re inclined to give the “Most Unexpected Moment of the Year” award to Mary Lambert. The Seattle spoken-word artist took 2013 by storm by way of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s chart-topping hit “Same Love.”

For the unacquainted, Macklemore’s poignant rap about society and hip-hop’s take on same-sex marriage has been more or less inescapable since early this year. It’s also arguably gone on to become the gay rights anthem of the decade. For Lambert, an openly lesbian young woman who was called on to write and sing the chorus for “Same Love,” the reaction has been startling.

<b>SING IT:</b> Macklemore collaborator Mary Lambert performs at UCSB on January 9.

“I was shocked and still continue to be shocked at the reaction to ‘Same Love,’” she told a reporter for AfterEllen in July. “I was shocked that a gay rights song could go platinum and is still climbing the Billboard charts … there’s so many people behind it.”

This Thursday, January 9, Lambert makes her Santa Barbara debut on campus at UCSB, where she’ll perform songs from her solo album, Letters Don’t Talk, as well as her take on the “Same Love” chorus, “She Keeps Me Warm.” In solo mode, Lambert’s music highlights the honesty of Macklemore’s hit; she writes vulnerable songs that promote emotional release, and she isn’t afraid to make audiences cry.

“I think human connection is one of the most beautiful things we have on this Earth,” Lambert says. “As much as I can, I want to foster that and encourage that for my listeners — and have that for myself as well.”

Mary Lambert performs a free concert for UCSB students at The Hub on Thursday, January 9, at 8 p.m. Attendees must present a valid UCSB ID to be admitted. Call (805) 893-2064.


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