“Long before the Taylor Swifts, Miranda Lamberts and Brandi Carliles, Carlene Carter set the standard for today’s independent, self-empowered, and irrepressible female country artists—and she did so when country music, as Barbara Mandrell sang in her 1981 CMA Single of the Year, 'wasn’t cool.'” - Jim Bessman
Welcome to the website of Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Carlene Carter, daughter of country music legends June Carter and Carl Smith, stepdaughter of Johnny Cash, and granddaughter of "Mother" Maybelle Carter of the original Carter Family.
Carlene's own career started in the late 1970s when she went to England to record her acclaimed self-titled debut album (with Graham Parker and the Rumour), and Musical Shapes (with Nick Lowe and Rockpile). She co-wrote hit songs for Emmylou Harris ("Easy From Now On") and The Doobie Brothers ("One Step Closer"), shared the Top 40 Pop duet "I Couldn't Say No" with Robert Ellis Orrall, and spent a year in the West End production of the musical Pump Boys and Dinettes, all before she "came home to country" in the 1990s with hits like "I Fell in Love," "Come On Back," "Every Little Thing," and her own TV shows on VH1 and TNN.
Carlene returned to the stage in 2005 to play her mother in Wildwood Flowers: The June Carter Story, and songwriting and recording with her 2008 Stronger CD (which Elvis Costello called "astounding"). All of that led up to her 2014 Carter Family tribute that critics hailed as "a triumph," "masterpiece," "an album for the ages," and "really quite perfect." Rolling Stone called her "one of pop music’s long-missed characters, now back again." But while she is often referred to as "country music royalty," she simply calls herself (and the album) Carter Girl.
Starting in January 2015, Carlene was Special Guest on the John Mellencamp Plain Spoken Tour, playing in sold-out theaters across the United States and Canada. A second tour followed in 2017 along with a new album, Sad Clowns and Hillbillies, including material by both singer-songwriters.
Carlene now lives in the Nashville suburb of Madison, Tennessee where she grew up, and enjoys being a vital part of the local music scene, hosting her acclaimed series Carlene Carter's Wonderful World of Women Who Write at The Bluebird Cafe, working with her brother John Carter Cash and other relatives on the album The Carter Family - Across Generations, and playing her grandmother's historic guitar on a Country Music Hall of Fame fundraiser.
In June 2021, Carlene had two shows on the online streaming service Mandolin, taped live at Cash Cabin studios and featuring many special guests including Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Elizabeth Cook, and The War and Treaty. More recently she was part of The Double RL Holiday Bread & Jam film (below) premiering on Thanksgiving day.
The circle remains unbroken by Carlene Carter...