Singer Jean Carne's career has had various incarnations, as well as a slight name change similar to Dionne Warwick's (adding an "e" to the end of her last name as Warwick did for a short time). Born Sarah Jean Perkins in Columbus, GA, she was raised in Atlanta. She began singing gospel music in the church choir at age four; she also took piano lessons and learned the clarinet and bassoon. Carne won a music scholarship to Morris Brown College and began her recording career in 1969 with her husband, keyboardist Doug Carn, on the Black Jazz label, where she was one of the last vocalists to work with jazz legend Duke Ellington before his death.
Carne popped up several times during the early-to-mid-'70s, singing with Earth, Wind & Fire on two albums, recording several times with Norman Connors, and reaching the charts via George Duke's hit single "Reach for It." In 1977, Carne was signed to Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International Records; her debut album, Jean Carn, was a classy affair that merged the best of '70s soul and jazz with solid songwriting and tight instrumental support (MFSB, Instant Funk). The debut single "Free Love" went to number 23 R&B. Though the follow-up single didn't chart, several of the album's tracks received considerable radio airplay, and some tracks made the disco charts. In June 1978, her second album for the label was released; Happy to Be With You included the hit single "Don't Let It Go to Your Head."
Carn's final Philadelphia International album, 1980's When I Find You Love, was more of a return conceptually (musically and sonically) to Jean Carn. Produced by Dexter Wansel, the album rates as one of Carne's best efforts. The smooth and halting "My Love Don't Come Easy" peaked at number 35 R&B. Released in August 1981, Carne's Sweet and Wonderful featured a remake of the Spinners' "Love Don't Love Nobody," which went to number 35 R&B. Carne moved to Motown Records in 1982, making her label debut with the album Trust Me. The single "If You Don't Know Me By Now," a cover of the Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes hit with backing vocals by the Temptations, went to number 49 R&B.
By 1986, Carne signed to Omni Records; Closer than Close was released in July of that year and the title track that went to number one R&B. Her 1988 album You're a Part of Me included a hit cover of Aretha Franklin's "Ain't No Way." Carne later signed with Place One Entertainment, which reunited her with former Omni Records president Steve Bernstein, with her Love Lessons album being distributed by PPI/Peter Pan. Carne continues to tour with Connors, among others, and makes her home in Atlanta. ~ Ed Hogan