Mary Chapin Carpenter finds healing through artistic endeavors

Mary Chapin Carpenter
Mary Chapin Carpenter
Photo by Sacks and Co.
| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 7:01 p.m.

For many singer-songwriters, making a new album is art; for Mary Chapin Carpenter, it was therapy.

After dealing with some personal problems, she rebounded with 2012's “Ashes and Roses,” an album she says was “almost medicinal” in helping her heal. She'll perform some of her new music and old favorites in an acoustic concert with longtime friend Shawn Colvin on Oct. 13 at The Palace Theatre in Greensburg.

“They say the most traumatic things that people can go through in their lives are a divorce, the loss of a parent and serious illness,” Carpenter says. “All of those things happened to me in the last few years.”

Following her father's death after a long illness, Carpenter suffered a pulmonary embolism and the breakup of her marriage. It took the singer a long time to bounce back from feeling isolated in her sadness. It was only when she turned to “artistic things, sometimes books, sometimes music,” that Carpenter knew she could move on.

“They made me realize I wasn't the only one facing those problems,” she says. “Healing doesn't happen overnight.”

Carpenter and Colvin don't live close enough to get together socially that often — Carpenter lives in Virginia, Colvin is in Texas — but they make a real effort to find time for each other in their busy lives. And when their careers intersected, they decided to take advantage of the time together and schedule some tour dates.

“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,” Carpenter says.

They've now been on the road for a year and a half — although they didn't plan the tour to last so long — and their concert appearances are hardly ever the same every night.

“We find ourselves onstage, playing, singing and talking,” she says. “We talk about the changes of growing older, how our songs came about; we tell stories; we embarrass each other; we crack each other up. It's incredibly fun. We also love the music part.”

The only part she doesn't like is the hassle of air travel.

“You have to cultivate patience and pray to the luggage gods and leave three days early,” she says. “It's not for the faint of heart.”

The tour winds down at the end of October, but she says that doesn't mean the duo won't team up again if the opportunity presents itself.

Carpenter is busy with her solo work, too, and hints at a new record coming out in January that she's very excited about — but can't talk about yet.

The folk-pop song stylist has won five Grammys, two Country Music Association awards and two Academy of Country Music awards. She has released 10 albums, and her songs have been recorded by artists such as Joan Baez, Wynonna Judd, Cyndi Lauper and Trisha Yearwood.

Her induction last year into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame was one of the highlights of her career.

“It was so exciting and amazing,” she says. “You don't want to chase after those things, but it's always wonderful to receive recognition and praise. I feel very grateful and tremendously honored that something I've done connected in some way.”

Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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