Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

She's No Newcomer to Honesty

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

She's No Newcomer to Honesty

Article excerpt

Ask Carrie Newcomer about music, and she may mention an eclectic set of tastes that runs from world beat to pop groups like the Beatles. But invariably, the conversation will center around artists such as Joni Mitchell, Bruce Cockburn, Brooks Williams or Mark Cohn.

These musicians, who Newcomer calls singing poets, helped forge a folk-influenced sound that drew her attention as she was growing up, and they've set the tone for the highly personal acoustic music she has written as an adult.

And Newcomer has little trouble explaining why Mitchell, Cockburn and other "singing poets" of the music world had such a profound impact on her.

"I really like words. I mean, being a writer, words are wonderful, wordplay and poetry. There's something about the power of words that has always been important to me," Newcomer said. "It's the communication process. When acoustic music is at its best, it's communicating. It's expressing something that's real essential. It's putting to words something that we all know about. And the details give it life. This type of music really does get down to the nitty gritty of human experience, and I like that."

Now in her mid-30s, Newcomer grew up near Chicago in Elkhart, Indiana. As a student at Goshen College in Elkhart, she studied visual arts, but eventually found herself drawn to music. She began by playing solo gigs during this time, and eventually became lead singer of the folk trio Stone Soup, which released two records on Newcomer's own Windchime Records label and gained a strong following in the Midwest. She went solo in 1990 after Stone Soup broke up.

Over the course of three solo records -- 1991's "Visions and Dreams," 1994's "An Angel At My Shoulder" and 1995's "The Bird Or The Wing" -- few artists have gotten to the nitty gritty of life with more disarming openness and direct honesty than Newcomer. In fact, Newcomer is that rare artist whose songs reveal a very defined sense of her personality, her outlook, her spirituality and her politics. …

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