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American country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter to return to Cambridge

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Mary Chapin Carpenter
Mary Chapin Carpenter

American country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter is returning to Cambridge for the City Roots Festival.

New Jersey-born Mary Chapin Carpenter has been one of the top female stars of country and Americana music for 30 years.

Her 1987 debut album, Hometown Girl, was the precursor to regular appearances in the Billboard country charts throughout the decade that followed, including her 1994 No 1 single, Shut Up and Kiss Me. Her last top 40 country hit was Almost Home 18 years ago.

Carpenter has won five Grammy Awards and is the only artist to have won the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance four years in succession, which she did from 1992 to 1995.

Last year she headlined Cambridge Folk Festival in the grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall and she is to return to the city on February 5 – a fortnight ahead of her 59th birthday – to perform at the Corn Exchange.

“The booking came along and it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’d love to go back to Cambridge’, said Carpenter. “It’s one of my favourite places.

“I was there two Christmases ago and stood in line for eight hours for the Carols and Lessons at King’s College – that was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

“We’ve played the Cambridge Folk Festival a couple of times – one of the greatest, most revered festivals in the world. It’s a privilege to have been there.”

She cited the Corn Exchange as one of her favourite venues and revealed what fans can expect to hear on her setlist.

“I always try to find a good mix of old and new,” she explained. “The new record, The Things That We Are Made Of, came out last year and I spent all year touring on that music, but the concerts are always an opportunity to mix it up, so that’s what I intend to do.”

Carpenter said of UK audiences: “They’re very generous, they’re lovely. They seem to welcome the new music and they certainly acknowledge the older songs that they’re familiar with. They’re just interested in what you have to say.”

Revealing her plans for the rest of 2017, the singer-songwriter noted: “I’ll be touring a lot this year. I’m still pretty old school in terms of considering a new record as having a lifespan of about two years, so I’ll just be emphasising that and doing what we do as musicians. We show up in a town and try to do our best.”

Carpenter took part in Saturday’s protest march in Washington DC following the inauguration of Donald Trump as America’s 45th president.

She said: “I think what’s important – no matter what your politics are – is that there be civility and people listen to one another and there be a sense that everyone, no matter what they do or what they believe in, has a voice – that is what our country is founded on.

“That said, I believe voices should be raised with respect and civility, not with intentional falsehoods and provocative statements. That to me has no place.”

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