Next month Carlene Carter embarks on the 16-date 2016 Plain Spoken Tour with John Mellencamp. This is a continuation of their hugely successful trek across North America last year that encompassed 80 dates and won praise from critics and fans alike. Carter will perform solo, followed by Mellencamp, and then she will join him on stage for a handful of songs.

Carlene Carter has been releasing music for almost four decades. Daughter of June Carter and Carl Smith, and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash, her most recent album Carter Girl (Rounder Records), pays homage to her own musical lineage, consisting of songs culled from the Carter Family songbook as well as Carlene Carter originals. Carter Girl, produced by Don Was, features guest artists Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Kris Kristofferson and Elizabeth Cook. The album’s repertoire serves as the cornerstone of her one-woman live set. After attending a 2015 Plain Spoken Tour performance, Jeffrey Lee Puckett of the Louisville Courier-Journal wrote, “The Carter Family was ground zero for country music as we know it, and Carter carried the weight of that immense legacy with an easy grace and rich humanity.”   


“Opening act Carter delivered a captivating set that was full of storytelling and her rich, penetrating voice,” commented Randy Cordova of the Arizona Republic last year. “Though the mood of her songs was often darkly somber – ‘Lonesome Valley 2003’ is about the death of her mother, June Carter Cash – Carter’s sass and molasses-and-honey delivery is like the aural equivalent of a warm hug.”


Carter and Mellencamp have a rich history of working together. Carlene was involved in Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, a touring musical co-written by Stephen King and Mellencamp, and produced by T-Bone Burnett. Ghost Brothers tunes, including “Tear This Cabin Down” and “Away from This World,” have been performed as Carter/Mellencamp duets in past Plain Spoken Tour dates. 


Kicking off on April 1 in Tulsa, OK at the Brady Theater and concluding on April 23 in Albany, NY, with over a dozen Midwest and east coast dates in between, the 2016 Plain Spoken Tour will give audiences the chance to see and hear Carlene Carter, whom the Portland Oregonian’s Jeff Baker describes best as “a spirited member of the First Family of American music who can fire up an older audience with nothing but talent, sassy stories, acoustic guitar and piano.”


Tickets for all Plain Spoken Tour dates are currently on sale.


2016 Plain Spoken Tour  


1-Apr  Tulsa, OK Brady Theater

2-Apr  Thackerville, OK WinStar World Casino

4-Apr  Springfield, MO Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts

5-Apr  Davenport, IA Adler Theatre

7-Apr  Duluth, MN DECC Symphony Hall

9-Apr  Lawrence, KS Lied Center of Kansas

10-Apr  Springfield, IL Sangamon Auditorium

12-Apr  Muncie, IN Emens Auditorium

13-Apr  Huntington, WV Keith Albee Theater

15-Apr  Mount Pleasant, MI Soaring Eagle Casino

16-Apr  Wheeling, WV Capitol Theatre

17-Apr  Erie, PA Warner Theatre

19-Apr  Hartford, CT The Bushnell Performing Arts Center

20-Apr  Portland, ME Merrill Auditorium

22-Apr  Rochester, NY Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre

23-Apr  Albany, NY Palace Theatre

This time last year I started the John Mellencamp "Plain Spoken" tour in South Bend. And now..... I'm in Indiana recording with him and his amazing band!! Great stuff!!

Wishing everyone a most excellent New Year! 2016 is going to be a great one! I can feel it in my ole bones!!! Love and blessings to you all!!!!!!!


25 years ago today, Carlene's 6th solo album was released, and went on to have 4 Top-40 singles on the Billboard charts, and be named one of the best albums of the year in many publications including Time magazine, plus earn Carlene a Grammy nomination for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female! Read all about it on the Innocent Words website!


Carlene's long-time friend Karen Brooks posted this drawing on Carlene's Facebook page and wrote: "Carlene Carter I was doodling today and there you were! Hi sista!" She later responded to the compliments on her work: "If I were to try to do this it would not be as good. I do have someone else in there who really nails it if I stay out of the way. This really is Carlene at the time I met her back in '77. She is still beautiful. Always will be to me." When Carlene saw the drawing, she wrote: "My dear friend Karen Brooks made this from memory of a 22 year old CC! She knows me well and is so talented in every way."


My dressing room at Fox Theater in Atlanta last night was my dream dressing room! Thank you Atlanta for a great show! It's all because of the audience that a show has its own unique feel! Last night was amazing like each person who came out to see us! Love from me and Joe Xox
PS: I'm the tiny little elf like person sitting in the princess' chair in case you have trouble finding me!

Carlene's favorite uncle, Don Davis, passed away on Monday, March 9 after suffering a stroke on Friday. He was the father of Carlene's cousin Lorrie Davis Bennett, having been married to her mother Anita Carter. Hearing the news, Carlene wrote: "I'm tore up. I hate this has to happen. As we get older, the people we learned from and leaned upon leave us here. I know Aunt Nita, Momma and Helen will be so happy to be with him."


Starting when he was just a teen, Mr. Davis became one of the youngest and most in-demand musicians in the early days of the Grand Ole Opry, playing steel guitar both on stage and over 3,000 records with everyone from Minnie Pearl to Hank Williams, then as music producer for Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and many others, plus arranger, publisher, and television host. In 1997 he was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, and released his memoir, Nashville Steeler: My Life in Country Music, in 2012.


Carlene wrote: "My Uncle Don Davis was the sweetest funniest man in the world. He always made us girls laugh and I loved every moment I spent with him. Incredibly talented musician and was successful in everything he put his hand to. An amazing father to Lorrie and Jay and to me he always had a smile and a loving hug no matter how old I was. I loved him dearly. He will be missed by us all who knew him. Even though death is a natural part of life it always hurts those left behind."


Photo courtesy of Lorrie

She taught me so much about being a woman.
Also her wicked sense of humor I got from her! Always playing around with us kids by jumping out and scaring us to death.
Then that unforgettable laugh would make us laugh too! She loved my Daddy so deeply and
was certainly the only example I had of what a great marriage looked like before Momma married John.
I always say I had 2 beautiful mothers.
Goldie was that inside and out:-)
Miss her everyday and loved her dearly.

In between my set and going out to sing with John Mellencamp! What a gorgeous theater Connor Palace Performing Arts Center in Cleveland, Ohio! Wonderfully extra special night:-)

Hi! After the Ryman, out by the bus, in my jammies, ready to roll, and it was amazing, amazing to come back here and play two nights at the Ryman, with Mr. John Mellencamp, and to sing songs that I wrote about Momma, and sing Grandma's songs, and that's really being a Carter Girl. I got to be a Carter Girl, big time, the last two nights.

Me and John Carter Cash last night at the Ryman. Big time we had!! Looking forward to tonight!! Photo by our friend Vicki Langdon.


Carlene Carter dropped by The Tribune to record two Press Play videos before her concert with John Mellencamp at the Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend, Indiana. Here she performs "Little Black Train" and "It Takes One To Know Me." Videos by the South Bend Tribune photo staff.



Had a thought of a fun thing for the fan club.  Just curious what people would pick for songs they'd like to hear at the shows this tour.  If they had 8 songs, what would they pick?  Could be fun and it might help me decide on my final set list.  Want to see how on the mark I am with what I think they like HaHa!  Love you all, Carlene


Please list your top 8 songs for Carlene in the comments section here!

God Bless Little Jimmy Dickens RIP.
He was an amazing man and I loved him dearly.
He was one of my Daddy's best friends and I know Daddy'll be so happy to see him on the other side.
Pray for Miss Mona Dickens his wife.
Love from the Carters and the Smiths


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New album and tour with John Mellencamp!

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Sad Clowns & Hillbillies album on NPR!

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More on Calendar Page!

  • 06/24/2017
    Saint Augustine Amphiteatre - St. Augustine, FL
  • 06/25/2017
    Mizner Park Amphitheater - Boca Raton, FL
  • 06/27/2017
    Chastain Park Amphitheater - Atlanta, GA
  • 06/28/2017
    Koka Booth Amphiteatre - Cary, NC
  • 06/30/2017
    Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion - Gilford, NH

Carter Girl CD on Sale!

Carlene's Tribute to Mom June Carter Cash!

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