Singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter to play sold-out show in Ann ArborWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Seventy-eight fans saw Mary Chapin Carpenter play her first paid gig at the Ark in Ann Arbor in 1989, according to Barb Chaffer Authier, marketing director at the venue.
Twenty-six years, five Grammy Awards, and more than 13 million records sold later, tickets were gone in one day for the 2012 Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee’s April 29 show.
“I had come through [the Ark] as a sign-up person at open-mic night years before . I was taking a year off between high school and college. And I decided after waitressing and being on a grounds crew and digging ditches, I had saved up all my money, and my idea was that I wanted to buy a Volkswagen camper van and go traveling around,” she recalled.
After the van broke down, Carpenter carried on with her grandmother’s car in the late 1970s.
“I drove out with the remainder of my money, and I did a Colorado Outward Bound course. I stayed with friends all along the way, and one of my friends was going to Michigan in Ann Arbor. And the night that I was there, she took me over to the Ark, where they had an open-mic night and bullied me — I say that lovingly — bullied me into signing up and singing a few songs.
“So that was the very first time I’d ever been to the Ark … signing up and being petrified and terrified, but at the same time inwardly tremendously excited,” she said. “Then a few years later, to be able to go there as an artist presenting her music, I couldn’t believe it — I was so excited still.”
That passion for music is evident listening to Carpenter talk.
“I feel so lucky that I can wake up and know that my life’s work is about playing music and trying to find connections with people that way,” she said during a call from Virginia.
She has touched millions, thanks to hits “Down at the Twist and Shout,” “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her,” “I Take My Chances,” “I Feel Lucky,” “Shut Up and Kiss Me” and “Let Me Into Your Heart.”
For her 2014 disc, “Songs From the Movie,” Carpenter recorded 10 of her favorites with an orchestra and performed with symphonies on tour.
At the Ark, she’ll be joined by friends Jon Carroll on piano and John Doyle on guitars.
“I’ve done this over the years … go out with a much smaller group. Songs can be presented in so many ways, and you can strip things down and deconstruct them and put them back together again,” she said. “Of course, they’re the same songs, but you can find different colors, textures and meanings, and vibes and moods, and that’s what I love doing.”
The singer-songwriter said she’ll start recording a disc next month and may perform some new tracks at the Ark.
“Because these venues have been so lovely and intimate, I love to chat the audience up; we’ve been having great discussions,” she said and laughed. “I just start talking to people and asking questions, and they ask questions of me, and we just go wherever it takes us. We’ve had some really wonderful nights where we’re all cracking each other up and playing songs in between; it’s been great.”