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Mary Chapin Carpenter

Mary Chapin Carpenter was part of a small movement of folk-influenced country singer/songwriters of the late '80s. Although many of these performers never achieved commercial success, Carpenter was able to channel her anti-Nashville approach into chart success and industry awards by the early '90s.

Carpenter was born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey, the daughter of a Life magazine executive; she spent two years of her childhood in Japan, where her father was launching the Asian edition of Life. Her mother had begun to play guitar during the folk explosion of the early '60s, and she gave her daughter a guitar when Mary became interested in music as a child. Carpenter played music during her high-school years, but she didn't actively pursue it as a career. In 1974 her family moved to Washington, D.C., where she became involved in the city's folk music scene. After graduating from high school in the mid-'70s, she spent a year traveling Europe; when she was finished, she enrolled at Brown University, where she was an American civilization major.

Following her college graduation, she became deeply involved in the Washington-area folk scene, performing a mixture of originals, contemporary singer/songwriter material, and pop covers. Carpenter met guitarist John Jennings during the early '80s and the pair began performing together. They eventually made a demo tape of their songs, which they sold at their concerts. The tape wound up at Columbia Records, and the label offered Carpenter an audition. By early 1987, Columbia had signed her as a recording artist, and her first album, Hometown Girl, was released that year.

Hometown Girl and its follow-up, State of the Heart (1989), earned her a dedicated cult following, as well as two Top Ten singles, "Never Had It So Good" and "Quittin' Time." Country radio was hesitant to play her soft, folky, feminist material, but she received good reviews and airplay on more progressive country stations, as well as college radio. Shooting Straight in the Dark, released in 1990, managed to break down a lot of the barriers that stood in her way. "Down at the Twist and Shout" became a number two single and the album sold well, setting the stage for her breakthrough album, 1992's Come on Come On.

Come on Come On signaled a slight change in direction for Carpenter -- although there were still folk songs, she felt freer to loosen up on honky tonk and country-rock songs, which resulted in several hit singles. Two of the singles from the album -- "I Feel Lucky" and "Passionate Kisses" -- hit number four, and "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" became her first number one. Come on Come On would eventually sell over two million copies. Her fifth album, Stones in the Road, released in 1994, concentrated on the folkier material, but it was still a major success, selling over a million copies within its first six months of release. Place in the World was released in October 1996, and Time* Sex* Love* followed in spring 2001.

Carpenter's tenth album, 2004's Between Here and Gone, was produced with pianist Matt Rollings. The Calling was issued in 2007 by Zoë Records. Zoë also released a holiday album from Carpenter, Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas, in the fall of 2008. A new studio album, The Age of Miracles, appeared early in 2010. Carpenter followed it in the summer of 2012 with Ashes and Roses, an entirely self-penned collection that she co-produced with Rollings. In 2013, she teamed with Grammy-winning arranger Vince Mendoza to create an orchestral album of songs from her existing catalog. Songs from the Movie was released in January of 2014 ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Soul Companion (Single)

Comments

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One of the best female singers.
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I just love her music.
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Saw MCC last night here in Santa Fe. Great concert with guest Aoife O'Donovan.
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I never understood the last few lines of this song. It sounds like, having made the bravemove to independence , she's being punished by working for minimum wage. Tin-eared ending.
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Excited to go her concert tonight!
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jcook7141
Why have you stopped printing lyrics with the song?
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cv55
My favorite female country vocalist.
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Not since Joni Mitchell has there been such a descriptive writer. Mary's songs are small movies: moments in time captured and visualized every time you listen. I love them all!
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Wow She is Amazing!
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I just bought my ticket for her upcoming concert in Santa Barbara.
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I love Mary and her music, come back to Ravinia, Mary Pleeeeease
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thelive version is better
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Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life. However if you don't read this you will die in two days. Now that you've started reading this don't stop. This is so scary. Put this on five songs in the next 143 min. when your done press F6 an your lovers name will pop up on your screen in big letters. Trust me it works
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What a great PIANO SOLO oh yeah :o))
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Great sounds from this group and Mary C. can't hurt either.
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I have always enjoyed the idea that someone might know me better than myself. MC- you awesome :)
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I have only discovered Mary this year and play her music in this car, bedroom and in the rest of my home.
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Love your music Mary
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What a song what s great singer
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So proud of her for staying true to her heart. Her lyrics show her deep emotions and her angelic voice has no comparison. What an amazing artist!
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lmmschell2
My favorite musician -- I've seen her in concert many times and I have followed her since the '80s! MCCC is a talented writer and gifted performer with countless amazing songs -- my favorite is Halley Came to Jackson. My grandma lived a similar story.
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Excellent song, excellent female musicians!!
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marybrown999
Real nice in concert. Her voice has a distinct quality live that is stunning. Saw her with Jackson Browne and Shawn Colvin and she was the star of the show.
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So cool! Wish we had more like her!
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She is Gifted and Graced!
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Yes, I have had the chance to see her live twice and she is an incredible singer but Halley's Comet has to be one of my favorites.
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ndbruce3591
Mary
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Come On Come On is a flawless album. Hard to believe it's 20 years old now.
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coolmusiczon e _ 3 3
Awesome artist
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kleiny149
This is really a cover of Lucinda Williams who is one of the best female songwriters ever!!
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anne_e_kimbe r
Saw her perform in Madison, WI, this summer - you could feel the love, going both ways.
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dchesley2
Saw MCC Sept. 2012 in Michigan.... . . w h a t a talent,what a voice!....fa n t a s t i c show!
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My stones in the road turned into diamonds that flattened my tires and threw me face down into the road. Finally, I can relax, heal and stroll with my angels alonmg the path that takes us to the rainbows.
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Her songs give my heart a life and a smile. Her singing carries me to live what she sings. And she just gets better.
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spent a lot time traveling for work in my 20s and 30s ..many miles on the road listenting to Mary since she first came out ...1 of my favorite artists of all times ..LOOKING FORWARD TO HER NEW ALBUM !
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what an amazing artist. I hav never had the chance to see her in concert and would certainy love to. At times funny, she can still make this curmudgeon cry. Lord there is so much wonderful music out there to discover and so little time........
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dawn1916
Saw her in concert when introduced for first time by Jonathan Edwards at Constitution Hall in early 80's. Still impressed as I watched her career blossom.
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dsjma2011
MCC is my favorite artist; been hooked since Hometown Girl. Come On, Come on was on of the best albums of the 1990s. Hope everyone has heard her Christmas CD put our a few years ago--an instant classic. Can't wait for the new album out in June 2012.
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bike2work200 0
Met her before she hit it big, in a record store in Alexandria, VA. It was just the two of us chatting. Got a signed copy of Hometown Girl as a result. Been smitten ever since...
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sassygrl_va
Love everything she sings. :) When I lived in the D.C. area, trekked out to Wolf Trap every summer for her annual performance in her hometown. :) :)
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I Am a Town is about a real area like the song says-in North Carolina. Always enjoy hearing it.
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marybrown999
No relation to Harry Chapin...but she did marry a carpenter. Don't think that worked out too well. She was a Carpenter before she married the carpenter so Timmy didn't change that.
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Love this song I Take My Chances and always enjoy hearing her sing it.
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I was also at O U Sunday evening and agree. . . fabulous performance, especially considering her father's passing. She is such an awesome story teller by song, just can't get enough of her music. Saw her at Kent Stage earlier this summer, also a fantastic performance. She is such a wonderful, 'feelings-ev o k i n g ' artist. . . just love her!
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kczack21
Watched her last night at Ohio University.. . s h e was wonderful! And only two days since her father passed, she still gave one hell of a performance! Such a lovely soul!
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Enjoy her music so much. She never disappoints and reaches a deep, deep part of my soul.
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dbex99
Have loved her music since the Come On Come On days. She hasn't lost a step. Saw her a few years back at Wolf Trap; GREAT show. My only regret is that I've never been able to find a recording of her rendition of "Flying Red Horse." :(
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Her voice is like a cool summer breeze, It comforts
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I love your music,the lyrics and melodys awesome -love the steel!
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jstoneaz
MCC never back down from life ~ she has an amazing capacity to render others lives in terms any of us can relate to if we choose. I"m thinking "Houston". i think joieqrrlherb a l s says in just right.
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