Carpenter rebounds from hardships for joint tour
By Bruce Ingram For Sun-Times Media October 2, 2013 5:58PM
Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin play the North Shore Performing Arts Center Oct. 8.
Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. $65-$72.
(847) 673-6300; northshorecenter.org
After major hardships the past few years including a heart embolism, a divorce and the death of her father, singer/songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter has rebounded with a regional Emmy, induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and “Ashes and Roses” — a successful album addressing her recent issues of loss and grief.
Now, the progressive country artist is winding up a tour with her longtime friend, fellow Grammy-winner Shawn Colvin. Carpenter and Colvin will perform Oct. 8 in Skokie’s North Shore Center for the Performing Arts.
We caught up with Chapin to talk about her current record, performing with Colvin and getting through hard times.
Q. You’ve gone from a period in your life that was extremely challenging to one that’s been very successful. How did you manage the transition?
A. I had some bumps along the way a few years ago but when I felt it was time to get back to work I just put my head down and went to it — and tried to write songs that were meaningful to me. It’s been so rewarding when people hear them and say, “I’ve felt that way, too.”
Q. Did “Ashes and Roses” feel different, more personal, than your previous albums?
A. Not really. I’ve always written about things that are important to me. So, while I knew that some people might feel this was a pretty dark record, I also knew that life really is sometimes dark.
I believe you go through these things in order to get past them. It’s not overnight, it’s not immediate, but as time goes on, and you get farther and farther away from the event, and the emotions of loss and grief eventually become a part of you. You go forward as something of a transformed person.
Q. This tour you’ve been on with Shawn Colvin sounds like fun.
A. Oh, it has been so much fun. We’ve been all over the world with it the past year and a half. Shawn and I have been friends for almost 30 years and we’ve played on each other’s records and performed together. But we realized a while ago that we’d never been on a formal tour together.
This is just us trying to replicate what we do when we get together and hang out in each other’s living rooms — singing harmonies on each other’s songs and pulling out songs from other artists that we’d grown up loving.
Q. So, now that this tour is winding down, what’s next for you?
A. Well, I’m not sure how much I’m supposed to talk about it, but I have a new record coming out in January and I’m very excited about it — it’s very different.
Q. Can you give us a hint?
A. Let’s just say it involves a really big band. (Laughs) How does that sound?
Bruce Ingram is a local freelance writer.