"She is more than a singer-songwriter. She’s a poet, storyteller, snake-charmer, good neighbor, friend and lover, minister of the wide-eyed gospel of hope and grace."
That’s how Barbara Kingsolver, best-selling author of "The Poisonwood Bible" and "The Bean Tree," describes multifacted Carrie Newcomer, who will be in concert 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, in Martin Chapel of the seminary building at Eastern Mennonite University.
Newcomer has recorded 10 albums for Rounder/Philo Records, including her latest, "Regulars and Refugees," a follow-up to her critically-acclaimed recording, "Betty’s Diner." The 13 songs on her newest album take the listener inside the world of the same southern Indiana diner, offering a collection of well-hewn stories that say things important and true about the human condition.
"A basic attitude that I have is one of sacramental living – that there isn’t a great gulf between sacred and ordinary," Newcomer stated. "We live with the divine very close and all about us, if we’re open to seeing it that way. The borders are blurred in many wys. The whole story of Betty’s Diner is about moments of grace and forgiveness and hope. This is just the way I see the world," she added.
Newcomer’s songs "are all about telling the truth, however gritty and unpleasant that can be at times," one critic noted. For the artist, connecting with the truth is made easier by filtering her songs through the characters that live and breathe in and between the lines of the songs on "Regulars and Refugees." Betty’s Diner is for real.
Workshops Focus on Peace and Justice
The artist leads workshops across the country on songwriting, creative writing and peace and justice and faith and vocation themes. Her activism springs from her Quaker faith and from her belief in the power of an individual’s calling in the world. It manifests itself in the thing about which she has the most passion – her music.
The musician has shared the stage with such performers as Alison Krauss, Bonnie Raitt, Rosanne Cash and Mary Chapin Carpenter. The string band Nickel Creek covered her song, "I Should’ve Known Better," on their 2003 Grammy award-winning album, "This Side," produced by Alison Krauss. Since 1997 she has done benefit concerts and given a percentage of her tour album sales to charitable organizations ranging from Literacy Volunteers of America and the American Friends Service Committee to Habitat for Humanity and Second Harvest.
She was "artist in residence" at EMU in April, 2005, speaking in chapel and classes, leading workshops on creativity and sustaining joy in work, interacting with students and faculty and giving a public concert of her original music.
General admission to the concert is $8. Tickets are available in advance by calling the EMU box office, 540-432-4582, after Sept. 1. They are also available on-line at www.emu.edu/boxoffice. Tickets will also be on sale at the door.