Alt-country singer/songwriter Mary Gauthier exploded onto the scene in 1999 following her self-released sophomore effort, Drag Queens in Limousines. The album, which garnered her a Crossroads Silver Star and a four-star rating in Rolling Stone, had critics comparing her self-described "country noir" to the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, John Prine, and, not surprisingly, Lucinda Williams. The success of Drag Queens led to main-stage shows at festivals around the country and multiple tours in Europe. Embraced by critics, folkies, and No Depression fans alike, Gauthier's warmly candid treatment of her fringe-dwelling subjects rings true, as it never verges on sentimental; her characters' downtrodden lives are never coldly exploited. Instead, these are people she knows, who she met after dropping out of her Louisiana high school and stealing the family car at the age of 15, only to find herself in detox at 16 and jailed in Kansas City at 18. Her own wayward path led her to culinary school and, eventually, she opened a successful restaurant in Boston's Back Bay -- Dixie Kitchen -- which she sold after her music career started to take off. Filth & Fire, Gauthier's third album, was produced by former Lucinda Williams sidekick Gurf Morlix and released in July 2002. Mercy Now was issued in 2005 by Lost Highway, followed by the Joe Henry-produced Between Daylight and Dark in 2007. Gauthier next released the autobiographical The Foundling, produced by Mike Timmons of the Cowboy Junkies, on Razor & Tie Records in 2010. ~ Kim Reick Kunoff, Rovi