the 4th Annual ACM Honors at the Ryman Auditorium
Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images for ACM

Today we focus on a singer on songwriter who was born in Princeton, NJ and who was influenced from an early age by folk and pop singers like The Mommas and The Poppas and Judy Collins. Her childhood included spending time in Japan, and was so into the folk/pop culture, that her classmates once told her if she played "Leavin' On A Jet Plane" one more time, they were going to cut her guitar strings.

Mary Chapin Carpenter is an artist whose folk background always shone through in her song writing. With song structure that wasn't common in the country genre, Carpenter quickly became known for unwillingness to be pigeon-holed into a tag put on her by her record label. With the release of her debut album Hometown Girl in 1987, Carpenter began telling people that instead of being called a "Country artist", she preferred to be called a "slash rocker" (as in county/folk/rock). Many critics agreed and while giving the album very high marks, especially for a debut album, it yielded no singles and failed to chart on any of Billboard's album charts.

The Life & Songs of Emmylou Harris: An All Star Concert
Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images Entertainment

1989's State of the Heart began a string of album successes for Carpenter, garnering her the first of 5 straight gold or platinum albums. The album spawned 5 singles, including her first 2 top-10 hits, "Never Had It So Good" and "Quittin' Time" and showed more of a transition to country music. She would release 4 top-10 albums during the 90's, Shooting Straight In The Dark (1990), Come On Come On (1992), Stones In The Road (1994 - Carpenter's only #1 album) and A Place In The Road (1996). Carpenter's record label also release a greatest hit compilation in 1999. These albums featured 19 top-20 hits, of which 8 went top-10; her only #1 hit, "Shut Up and Kiss Me" hit the top spot in 1994.

After touring in support of her A Place In The Road, Carpenter took a hiatus from recording to write songs for a Broadway musical adaption of the classic western Shane. Carpenter was signed to the musical in 1998 after first Dolly Parton, and then Garth Brooks signed on, and then left the project. After 2 years of lack of progress with the play, Carpenter too left the project in 2000.

2010 Winter TCA Tour - Day 5
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Her first new album in almost 5 years, 2001's Time*Sex*Love* met with unsatisfactory responses from critics, fans and country radio. The album failed to chart a single, while the New York Times wrote that Carpenter was "harder than ever to define stylistically" and album sales slumped. The singer would go on to release one more album with Columbia records, 2004's Between Here And Gone, which would receive great critical response, but the singer and the label would part ways after a 20-year relationship.

Carpenter signed with Zoe Records in 2007, releasing her first album with the label The Calling later that year. She would release 5 albums with the Indy label, and part ways with them after 2014's Songs From The Movie. She is currently in the studio working on a new album, The Things We Are Made Of, to be released by Lambent Light Records later this year, and the first single from the project is in our spotlight today. Mary Chapin Carpenter and "Something Tamed, Something Wild" is today's Catch of the Day, new music you haven't heard, but you'll want to hear it again.

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