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What I've Learned: Mary Chapin Carpenter
The homegrown singer on passing the hat in the old days, surviving a crisis, what she thinks of American Idol, and more By Courtney Rubin
Comments () | Published September 1, 2010

>> This article first appeared in the September 2010 edition of The Washingtonian.  To hear first-hand from other notable Washingtonians, click here.

For nearly 30 years, Mary Chapin Carpenter called Washington home. She lived in Chevy Chase, Alexandria, Georgetown, and Takoma Park. “Every time was just a different time in my life,” she says, “and every place was home for a while.”

Although the five-time Grammy Award winner now lives on an 82-acre farm near Charlottesville, her father and one of her sisters still live in Washington, making it “home to me, too—it’s always like I was just there.”

Carpenter, 52, was born in Princeton and moved to Tokyo in 1969 when her father, Chapin Carpenter, a Life executive, was sent to the Asia bureau. The family relocated to Washington when she was 15, and she returned here after graduating from Brown in 1981.

In the mid-1980s, after becoming a fixture on the local music scene, she signed with Columbia Records. Her first few albums yielded modest country hits, but in 1990 she scored a smash—and her first Grammy—with the Cajun-flavored “Down at the Twist and Shout.” With her fourth CD, 1992’s Come On Come On—whose hits included “I Feel Lucky” and “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her”—Carpenter became a star. In April, Carpenter released The Age of Miracles.

These days, Carpenter is finding touring miraculous. In 2007, she was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, a condition that was life-threatening—and life-changing. Forced to cancel her tour, she wondered if she’d ever write another album. Of her current tour, which ended August 19 at Wolf Trap, she says: “It’s been very celebratory.”

At home during a break from her travels, she talked about what she’s learned.


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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 09/01/2010 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Articles