Mary Chapin Carpenter and Previews of her Lincoln Center concert

“My eyes were full of tears, I cried like a baby; I mean I was overwhelmed. I’m still shaking my head over it today, it’s like, How’d “that” happen?” A very honest and candid response from Princeton, NJ native Mary Chapin Carpenter as she described the euphoria of winning her first of five Grammy Awards.

A 2012 inductee into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, this amazingly talented lady has garnered fifteen Grammy nominations, two CMA “Female Vocalist of the Year” Awards as well as two Academy of Country Music Awards, countless TV appearances, performances at The White House, The World Series, Super Bowl XXXI and The Grand Ole Opry. Carpenter‘s music has been featured in film as well. “Tin Cup,” “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “Dead Man Walking” as well as others have all used her material for their soundtracks.

This Friday, February 28, 2014 and Saturday March 1, 2014 at 8 p.m., Carpenter will be making an appearance in New York City at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in Avery Fisher Hall, along with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra  and some very special guests, as she tours in support of her latest release Songs From The Movie.

Reprising ten songs from her past, reworked, rearranged and redone by producer/arranger and her “collaborator” Vince Mendoza; one gets the feeling that Carpenter has exceeded even her own expectations with this effort. “This is so different,” she explained, “So different from the original recordings. This is an entirely different way to present my music. All of these years playing music and making records and I’m still on a learning curve.”

Quick to heap praise, Carpenter speaks with near reverence as she can’t hide her appreciation for Mendoza. “It was an honor, an incredible honor to work with him. Vince transformed and added so many beautiful passages to my music; it was emotional. He transformed them the way that I wanted them done; he’s wonderful.”

Utilizing a fifteen voice choir to go along with a 63 piece orchestra during the recording process, Carpenter elaborated on her time spent at London’s prestigious Air Studios; an old church converted into a music lab, which she calls “Phenomenal.” “I’ve been there once before,” she said, “It’s a special place, phenomenal really.” “I’ve played London so many times in the past but never, other than that one time really spent any length of time there. The rooms are divided up and the acoustics are just beautiful, fantastic  sound and a testament to the facility.”

Along for the ride on Friday will be some very special friends, beginning with drummer Peter Erskine. “Peter is just amazing,” she gushed. “He is a world class, revered musician and human being; just such a nice man. One can not help but feel joyful being around Peter and I consider myself lucky that he’ll be performing with me.” In addition to Erskine, Joan Baez, Shawn Colvin, Jerry Douglas, Tift Merritt, and Aoife (pronounced EEF-ah) O’Donovan will be joining Carpenter and her band mates. “Each one of them are seminal and it is an honor and I mean an honor that they are joining me. I hold every one of them in high esteem; I look forward to being on stage with them.”

Although having performed at Lincoln Center in the past, Carpenter sees this next appearance as “unique and more exciting,” much like her childhood memories of growing up in Princeton. “I was born in Princeton Hospital,” she said with a small laugh, “Right there in the middle of town.” “Growing up there? Gosh yeah, I have fond memories; it was a small town and a great place to grow up, to ride your bike as a kid; there was lots of freedom, just a beautiful place. One of my best memories was when my mother had us, my siblings and I, in community theater; I was really young, maybe age six or seven. We were in “The King and I” at McCarter Theater and I remember being overwhelmed at the time, so young and in front of so many people. I’ve performed there now as an adult and it’s a cosmic, wild feeling standing on the stage where I was as a child, or where  my family and I would go to see ‘The Nutcracker’ every Christmas season. I look out at those chandeliers and just think….”

As her voice trailed off, a sense of calm and confidence seemed to permeate the conversation as I asked Mary Chapin about her future and what she hopes to  accomplish. “Well,” she started, “I’m writing new songs.” “New songs for a new record, I’ll be touring all of this year and into the beginning of next year. Yeah, that’s what a musician does. I am very happy with what I do, what I’ve done and will do, it’s who I am. I am proud to call myself a working musician.”

With that, we parted ways. As I sat back and the reality sunk in a bit, a smile came to my face. You see, I too am very happy with what I do, so on a certain level I could relate to this incredible lady; isn’t that what it’s really all about?

About Author /

Danny Coleman is a veteran musician and writer from central New Jersey. He hosts a weekly radio program entitled “Rock On Radio” airing Sunday evenings at 7 p.m. EST on multiple internet radio outlets where he features indie/original bands and solo artists.

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