Singer and songwriter Carrie Newcomer has been a mainstay on the contemporary folk scene since the 1990s, known for emotionally intimate songs that explore the personal, the political, and the spiritual with compassion, insight, and wit. Newcomer was born in Dowagiac, Michigan on May 25, 1958 and grew up in the Midwest. While she would eventually receive a degree in visual art and create work in several mediums, she developed a passion for music, and performed with several folk groups in the '80s.
In 1991, she began performing as a solo act, and in 1994, she signed with Philo Records, distributed by the well-respected folk imprint Rounder. Newcomer's first album for Philo, An Angel at My Shoulder, appeared in 1994. The Bird or the Wing followed in 1995, and Newcomer would release 11 albums through the Rounder organization between 1994 and 2010, including the 1999 live set Bare to the Bone. Newcomer has also released two anthologies of her best-known songs -- 2004's Betty's Diner: The Best of Carrie Newcomer and 2012's Kindred Spirits: A Collection -- as well as a collaboration with Indian musicians Amjad Ali Khan, Amaan Ali Khan, and Ayaan Ali Khan, 2011's Everything Is Everywhere. She also participated in a 2007 album of songs inspired by Scott Russell Sanders' short story collection Wilderness Plots, which featured a handful of other Indiana-based songwriters. 2014 saw the release of a new album, A Permeable Life, produced by Paul Mahern, which appeared in conjunction with a book, A Permeable Life: Poems and Essays.
In 2016, Newcomer released two albums. The Slender Thread was a collaboration with Scottish guitarist Ian Melrose, recorded for the German audiophile label Stockfish Records. The Slender Thread appeared in early 2016, while in the fall, Newcomer released The Beautiful Not Yet. The album featured several songs initially created for a collaborative project with author Parker J. Parker. Newcomer and Parker worked together to create a presentation that combined of music and spoken word, titled What We Need Is Here: Hope, Hard Times and the Human Possibility.
Offstage, Newcomer is a practicing Quaker, and devotes her energies to a variety of charitable and progressive causes. The first edition of the Bare to the Bone album was released as a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood; she performed and taught in India as a cultural ambassador of the American Center in 2009 and 2011, and she donates a portion of the proceeds from her album sales to the Interfaith Hunger Initiative, Literacy Volunteers of America, and the American Friends Service Committee, among others. Newcomer is also an educator who teaches workshops on writing, creativity, and art as an extension of spiritual practice. She is married to lawyer and musician Robert Meitus, a former member of the Dorkestra. ~ Mark Deming