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Carlene Carter


Carlene Carter

Carlene Carter

photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Description of Carlene Carter's music:

Singer-songwriter, Americana, country


Fans of the legendary Carter Family (i.e. AP Carter, Sara Carter, Mother Maybelle Carter, June Carter Cash, etc.) may be interested to hear the music of Carlene Carter. Indeed, Carlene carries on the family tradition of straddling the line between folk and country music, even moreso than does her half-brother John Carter Cash (daughter of June and Johnny). Fans of each of these artists would enjoy Carlene's work, as would fans of the other arm of the family tree - Rosanne Cash, Chelsea Crowell, Rodney Crowell (who was formerly married to Rosanne) and similar Americana/roots singer-songwriters.

Recommended CDs by Carlene Carter:

I Fell in Love (Reprise Records, 1990) compare prices

Little Love Letters (Giant Records, 1993) compare prices

The Platinum Collection (Rhino Records, 2007) compare prices

Purchase/Download Carlene Carter MP3s:

"I Fell in Love" (from I Fell in Love)
"I Love You Cause I Want To" (from Little Love Letters)
"He Will Be Mine" (from Little Acts of Treason)

Carlene Carter Biography:

Carlene Carter was born Rebecca Carlene Smith in Nashville, Tenn., the daughter of June Carter and her first husband, Carl Smith. Though she grew up in a highly influential folk and country music family (with one of the most influential family bands in the history of the genre), Carlene didn't cast her hat into the ring of the mainstream music industry until the late 1970s. Her debut album dropped in 1979 and enjoyed marginal success.

In the 1980s, for a time, she joined with her mother June, her grandmother Maybelle, and June's sisters to sing with the Carter Family Sisters on their tours and albums. But it was 1990 when she finally released a solo album of considerable reknown. She had been married to British singer-songwriter Nick Lowe until she divorced him in 1988, moved back to the states, and got to work on the album which would earn her a Grammy nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for the album's title track - "I Fell in Love". The disc was co-written by bassist Howie Epstein (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) with whom Carter would be romantically linked for some time. Indeed, they became engaged sometime toward the middle of that decade but never married. Epstein eventually died in 2003 after a battle with drugs, and his death was attributed to a suspected drug overdose. Following his death, in 2006, Carter married soap opera actor Joseph Breen, known for his roles on Guiding Light, Loving, and As the World Turns.

Epstein worked with Carter on her follow-up to I Fell in Love, a disc called Little Love Letters which also enjoyed considerable mainstream country success. Though the music was decidedly towing the line of the Nashville country music sound, Carter always approached the songs with a certain familial authenticity which belies Music Row. In later years, her sound has been thoroughly embraced by the bloggers and fans in the Americana and contemporary roots music world. Despite the fact that her last few albums have not enjoyed quite as much commercial success as those she recorded with Epstein, her relevance to these genres remains. This is due in part to a duet she wrote and recorded with Johnny Cash in 1977 which was lost then remastered by her half-brother John Carter Cash and included (with vocals from him, his wife Helen, and Carlene herself) on an album titled Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash: Duets.

Carter has released more than nine albums since her debut in 1979 and nearly two dozen singles to radio. Through it all, she has followed in the footsteps of her mother June Carter Cash, appearing in a number of films and television shows. It's been her music, however, which has been her greatest achievement, earning her praise from across genres and audience tastes.

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