August 1 at 8:15 p.m.
Tickets available here.
A LITTLE BIT MARY
Playbill note by Emil de Cou, NSO at Wolf Trap Festival Conductor
It’s time for me to fess up: I am, in fact, an Osmond brother switched at birth. Somewhere out there in Utah, among a large, happy Mormon family, there is a California-born Catholic schoolboy of Portuguese descent dishing with Donnie and Marie. Dig deep into my iPhone and you will discover that, beneath that classical and pop façade, I am truly a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n roll. Which is why I’ve been a fan of tonight’s soloist, Mary Chapin Carpenter, for so many years.
Though Columbia Records began marketing Carpenter as a country singer when she signed with them in the late 1980s, and it is in that category that she has climbed the Billboard charts and garnered a shelf-full of Grammys, she is no coal miner’s daughter born in a Kentucky holler. The daughter of a successful publishing executive, she was born in Princeton, New Jersey, educated at fine prep schools, and graduated from Brown University in 1981. Like many dreamy teenagers of the era, she was greatly influenced by The Mamas & the Papas, Judy Collins, and that Goddess of Girl Guitarists, Joan Baez.
Carpenter cut her teeth as a performer at various clubs here in Washington, D.C., including the late, great Childe Harold pub just off Dupont Circle, where Emmy Lou Harris and Bruce Springsteen also played early gigs. Unlike Harris and Springsteen, Carpenter did not have a sandwich named in her honor, but like them she would develop a unique American voice not easily pigeon-holed. No matter what record company marketing executives say, to my ear she is a singer-songwriter who offers a unique blend of a little of everything: folk, pop, bluegrass, and country.
Her first album, Hometown Girl, made the public radio circuit, but it wasn’t until State of the Heart and Shooting Straight in the Dark when she started topping the charts and winning awards with hit singles such as “Down at the Twist and Shout.” Come On Come On would be a monster hit, easing her crossover to pop and adult contemporary. Performers like Joan Baez, Wynonna Judd, and Trisha Yearwood began performing her songs, and she even recorded a duet with Dolly Parton. By the late 1990s her repertoire expanded to include powerful statements on political issues that deftly touched the heart and soul without touching any live wires.
As she comes home once again to Wolf Trap under the baton of Vince Mendoza, Carpenter brings us “Songs From The Movie,” based on her album of the same name. Arranged by Mendoza, the album features classic Carpenter (“Come On Come On,” “On And On It Goes,” “I Am A Town,” and “Goodnight America”) as well as tributes to her favorite film and orchestral music. Her eclectic inspirations ― from film composer Elmer Bernstein to orchestral composer Tobias Picker ― ensure that at this concert, in the waning days of summer, we will hear a little of everything wonderful from our Mary Chapin Carpenter, our hometown girl.