Lady Luck

"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn't." – Mark Twain

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Hi, Lionheart,

I want to share a story with you about that one time when I played Lady Luck at the Montreal casino for an Italian gambler washout. I wrote a song that's partially about that experience, and it won the Grand Prize in the Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Competition. It's called Lionheart. Listen here.

You know the saying that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction? That's what's up here.

After I graduated from training to be an opera singer the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montréal, Canada, I stayed the summer to enjoy the pulsing streets in the Plateau and Mile End, the green gardens and parks, the endless music and parties, and the vibrant artistic livelihood of the city.

The thing is, I'm from the States and didn't have a student or work visa anymore. I was living there on a tourist visa. I found a cash-based job as a cafe waitress at a little cafe on Rue Beaubien in Little Italy, 3 blocks from my $225/month shared apartment.

This wasn't your fancy cafe. This was an Italian cafe that had a back room of slot machines. My job was to serve cappuccinos to its patrons and I'd get an additional $1 tip/person on top of each $50/shift.

My boss was a heavyset, older, Italian man named Luciano who was addicted to gambling. I thought he might have previously been in the mob. He'd even tell his daughter that he was at "the bank" to cover for him really being at the casino. He didn't speak English, and we spoke in broken Italian/French.

Now, Luciano knew I was hard up for cash, and he offered to teach me Roulette and take me to the casino. What's more, he offered to give me $300 cash to bet with. The proposition: if I made it back and then some, I could keep the profits and return his $300. If I lost, I lost.

I---curious, naive, and thinking I had nothing to lose---accepted. 

Night after night for about a week, Luciano would sit me down at the cafe and explain how he thought he could conquer the game at the Roulette tables.

If the table was in a rectangle with the dealer at the head, he wanted me to sit directly on the dealer's right or left to get chummy so that the dealer would play in my favor. 

He showed me some combo moves to play.

On the day of the casino trip, I dressed up in a pink lace dress. It was to be my second time at the casino and I envisioned it with old Hollywood glamour. (The first time I went was on a first date with a pro hockey player who lost $400! Eesh.)

Luciano picked me up in his Dodge minivan (I won't get into cars with strangers anymore - though everything was fine), and off we went to the casino. 

He thought the security at the casino was watching him, and he didn't want us to be seen together, so he gave me the cash, dropped me off, and met me at the coat check. From there, we rode the escalators up and didn't say a word to each other. There wasn't even so much as a glance at each other. I followed him to the Roulette tables from a distance. 

I started playing. I won some, I lost some. I got nervous and spilled my coffee on the table. Luciano would signal me to move around the room and try multiple tables and dealers. 

What I SHOULD have done was pocket the cash and tell him that I lost it, but I'm an honest person. When I lost the money, I was out. I signaled to Luciano that I was heading back to the cafe. I told his daughter that he was at the bank. 

He stayed to try to win back his losses. I don't know if he did.

That's all that happened at the casino, Lionheart. 

In the weeks afterwards, I had to pack up and head back to the States. My 6-month tourist visa was ending, though I never told Luciano.

One night at the cafe, Luciano told me he loved me, grabbed my hand, and bit it.


That was the end. Luckily, I was moving back that week. I was scared to confront Luciano. Instead, he called me to pick up a shift but I was back in the States. So long, Luciano.

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I moved to New York City to see if I could be a singer in the city of dreams. I wrote a song about being lionhearted, and I included a part about this story. All photos in this email are from that summer in Montreal, save for the one at the bottom with my awards for Artist of the Year and Best Debut Album at the Wammies in Washington, D.C.



This blizzard of petals

Is my indecisiveness

So pretty, but with no way to go

But down, my lionheart

You brave one

The thrill of danger

Is a pulsation

A flirt with temptation

Growl, my lionheart

You brave one

My fear of light fades away from me

Shooting, moving through me


Lady luck plays

With mafia, survival on roulette

Your game now, Alouette

Courage, my lionheart

You brave one

Get up and get in it

You have come into your way

Your muse welcomes the day

Be, my lionheart

You brave one

My fear of light fades away from me

Shooting, moving through me


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I'm thinking back on this story and noting that sometimes the craziest adventures and risks have great outcomes.

If you've been wanting to express your own stories through music, now's the time, Lionheart.

I have ONE space left in my studio this February for singing and songwriting lessons.

Many people have this fear, and I'm here to guide you. I've been there. Approach it with the simplicity and wonder of a kid. Let go of your self-judgment. The most important thing is to show up and everything will unfold from there.

Lessons are available in-person in New York City and online. A package of 12 private lessons is $2,000, and if you sign up before 9pm February 28, you'll get $500 off.

If you're interested, respond to this email and let's get in touch!


This experience is designed for the intermediate / advanced musician who can play piano, guitar, electronic instruments, or other instruments.

Your one-on-one experience will be unique and personalized, but these are some of the topics we may cover:


  • Work through structured exercises around creating rhythmic melodic hooks to further develop song ideas - without sacrificing your lyrics

  • Determine the top things to avoid and consider when writing a melody

  • Create interesting melodic and harmonic contours

  • Write a slow song without losing momentum. Keep your listeners at the edge of their seats at slower tempi

  • Link sections together smoothly

  • Analyze your favorite songs and identify patterns of rhythmic and melodic hooks

  • Write memorable melodies and hooks

  • Patch your knowledge gaps and weak spots in your songwriting ability that prevent you from finishing and developing songs

  • Write phrases, hooks, and choruses that creatively combine lyrics with melody, rhythm, and harmony simultaneously without sacrificing any elements to another

  • Create interesting rhythmic motifs in your melodies and complete lyrics to fit them

  • Draw upon a tool box of concrete actionable microtasks and exercises that support your ability to develop and integrate all the layers of new song creation without getting frustrated and giving up

  • Create effective song arrangements that connect, contrast, and flow together in a unified whole

  • Singability: learn how to modify your vowels for your writing and singing so that you AND your listeners can effortlessly pour your heart out on high notes

  • Learn how to use numbers to visualize your melodies and create consistently

  • Arrange lyrical ideas

  • Learn the structures behind the hits

  • Use song structures to enhance the emotional intent of your lyrics

  • Generate emotionally expressive rhythmic ideas for your lyrics

  • Learn common chord voicings and inversions on piano and guitar to expand your musical palate

  • Develop your voice with breathing fundamentals, posture, tone production, articulation, and delivery

  • Increase your range, stamina, and overall vocal facility

  • Find your unique style, express yourself, connect with and emotionally move your audience

  • Discover your unique sound and writing style

  • Write even when you're not inspired


  • Develop your voice with breathing fundamentals, posture, tone production, articulation, and delivery

  • Increase your range, stamina, and overall vocal facility

  • Find your unique style, express yourself, connect with and emotionally move your audience

  • Anchor in a solid speech singing and/or bel canto vocal technique that you can rely upon

  • Sing pop, R&B, soul, jazz, musical theater, and classical repertoire

  • Learn to sing in French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, and other languages

  • Build your confidence for public speaking


  • Get clear on how to blend your passions, skills, and experiences in your music so that you feel on fire and resonate with your audience

  • Break through your limiting beliefs

  • Implement powerful routines into your practice and performances

  • Bridge the gap between where you are now and the musician you are becoming

  • Define your songwriting desires and goals

  • Identify clear action steps

  • Learn through challenging questions

  • Support in your recordings and/or performances


I'm going live on Instagram and Facebook Live on Mondays at 8pm now. Just a reminder. ✨

Dare a bit, Lionheart.

As always, I could never and would never do it withoutcha. Love ya.

Mad love. Wishing you inspiration and expansion.


P.S. I have ONE space left in my studio this February. My teaching rates for a package of 12 private lessons has gone up to $2K, though if you want to claim your spot before February 28 before 9pm EST, you'll receive $500 off! 

Go here to learn more about lessons and the incredible successes of my students.


Mary Alouette (AKA Alarke) stands out with her compelling twist of experiences as an international opera singer turned Gypsy jazz singer turned award-winning electronic pop singer and songwriter. 

Throughout her 25-year professional career, Alouette has mesmerized audiences from the Kennedy Center, the Rainbow Room, and Carnegie Hall to Fabrica Del Arte in Havana, Cuba, Romani caravans in Samois sur Seine, France, and castles in the Italian Alps.

Her music is an exciting, vibey, future-forward melt of pop, electronic, dance, and world music.

Photos by Daniel Cooper and Mavel Valdes.

Mary Alouette