GRAMMY-nominated country singer/songwriter Carlene Carter recently participated in an installment of the GRAMMY Museum's The Drop series. Before an intimate audience at the Museum's Clive Davis Theater, Carter discussed the making of her latest album, Carter Girl, and why she finally decided to put her own spin on classic tracks made famous by country music's revered Carter Family, among other topics. She also performed a brief set, including "Black Jack David."
"While my mother and my aunts were still living, it didn't seem like the right time because they were still carrying on [their songs] themselves," said Carter. "And I needed a bit of time to go by so that it didn't hurt when I sang these songs because a lot of these songs I sang with them on the road as a member of the Carter Family."
Born in Nashville, Tenn., Carter's country music roots run deep. She is the daughter of GRAMMY winner June Carter Cash and country singer Carl Smith, stepdaughter of country legend Johnny Cash and granddaughter of "Mother" Maybelle Carter, who was one-third of Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipients the original Carter Family, a collective also including A.P. Carter and Sara Carter. In 1978 Carlene released her self-titled debut album, which was followed by a string of albums, including 1980's Musical Shapes, which cracked the Billboard 200. Her 1990 album, I Fell In Love, peaked at No. 19 on Billboard's Country Albums chart and garnered Carter a 1990 GRAMMY nomination for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female.
Released in April, Carter Girl was produced by GRAMMY winner Don Was (Bonnie Raitt, Ziggy Marley) and peaked in the Top 40 on the Country Albums chart. The album features 12 tracks, 10 of which were originally written by members of the Carter Family, including "Blackie's Gunman," "Little Black Train" and "Black Jack David." Carter Girl also features collaborations with GRAMMY winners Vince Gill, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson, among others.
Carter is currently in the midst of a U.S. tour, with dates scheduled through November.
Upcoming GRAMMY Museum events include Spotlight: A.J. Croce (July 22), Great Guitars: Pete Anderson (July 30), Omar Souleyman In Conversation With Henry Rollins (Aug. 3), and The Drop: Billy Joe Shaver (Aug. 7).