After going from a jingle singer (Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Red Lobster are among the corporations that featured her vocals) to a back up singer for A-list hit makers including Elvis Presley, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, to a duet partner with Merle Haggard and Charlie Rich, Fricke became an A-list singer herself starting with the 1981 solo hit Down to My Last Broken Heart. Now the singer, who has 18 No. 1 singles, is touring behind Country Side of Bluegrass and reintroducing her songs and voice to a new generation of fans.
At first when they asked me to do it, I thought it’d be pretty interesting, said Fricke of the album she completed with famed Nashville producer Bil VornDick. Then the whole plan came together that included [recording and some touring] with the Roys.
Combining the sound of the brother and sister duo of Elaine Roy and Lee Roy, two-time Inspirational Country Music Duo of the Year award winners, with the much-lauded Fricke whose awards include the much coveted CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Award, give the album’s 12 tracks (plus the Ring of Fire bonus track) true distinction.
Go to any Nashville songwriters’ circle and just wait”you’ll hear the name Mary Chapin Carpenter mentioned at least once and the speaker’s tone will undoubtedly be reverential. Go to a show on her recent tour in support of her last album The Age of Miracles and you’ll likely find the venue sold out or close to capacity even if it’s a rainy, cold weekday night.
In a world full of music that many contend is generally devalued, Carpenter’s work is specifically prized by many country and folk music fans for its genuine beauty and authenticity. How else to explain the standing-room-only shows in this age of economic despair when Carpenter’s twelfth studio album is almost a year old? Or why the country-folk singer-songwriter has had her songs covered by everyone from Joan Baez (“Stones in the Road”) to Wynonna Judd (“Girls With Guitars”) to Trisha Yearwood (“Where Are You Now”).
“I have always needed the songwriter part,” said Carpenter before the last leg of her current tour in explaining why she constantly juggles a heavy tour schedule and songwriting. “As a kid I always loved music and I loved to scream and shout. When I started to seriously write, though, that’s when it came together.”
And it came together fast. After she graduated from Brown University, Carpenter returned to the Washington, DC-area where she spent much of her childhood. She re-entered the area’s music scene, which she had joined before she went to Brown, and soon had a recording contract with Columbia Records. She spent nearly twenty years at the company and sold over 13 million albums before moving onto Rounder Records where she continues to release much-loved, critically-acclaimed albums. A multi-GRAMMY-winning singer-songwriter, Carpenter also recently joined the ranks of Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Judy Collins and Joan Baez as a recipient of the “Spirit of Americana Free Speech in Music Award” from the Americana Music Association. (more…)