Despite her last name, Carrie Newcomer is a well-known and respected folksinger, educator and author.
With 17 nationally released albums, critical acclaim from national publications and a cache of awards to her credit, Newcomer is hardly a Johnny-come-lately.
And on Saturday, March 6, she’ll be appearing remotely for two events sponsored by the Fine Arts Series at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University.
“An Evening with Carrie Newcomer” will be streamed at 7:30 p.m. She’ll be accompanied by pianist Gary Waters and violinist/violist Allie Summers, who has been performing live with Newcomer since 2018.
Earlier that day, she’ll conduct a 90-minute mini-retreat, “The Beautiful Not Yet: Living With Hope in Dark Times” at 10 a.m. via Zoom.
An elegant folksinger with a country/bluegrass fusion, Newcomer is known for honest, authentic songwriting that illuminates life with startling depth, humor and clarity.
An Indiana native, Newcomer sings of the small joys and pains in life, emphasizing the little moments that are often taken for granted. She is not afraid to take on serious subjects, and does so with a healthy measure of good humor and self-awareness.
“The bluesy warmth of her voice and the support of musicians … give these confessions an edgy propulsion,” noted Rolling Stone magazine. “Rapturously tuneful, Newcomer’s material asks all the right questions and refuses to settle for easy answers.”
“Newcomer isn’t preachy or self-focused. She is a poet of reality, facing the soaring joy as well as the hard truths of powerful love,” wrote Wayne Robbins in Billboard magazine. “Newcomer has a gorgeous voice, used with intelligence and grace - an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.
She wrote “I Should’ve Known Better” (not to be confused with the Beatles’ “I Should Have Known Better”) for the progressive folk band Nickel Creek’s album “This Side,” which won a Grammy for the Best Contemporary Folk Album in 2002. Nickel Creek includes Chris Thile, who performed at CSB in January, 2020.
In the fall of 2009 and 2011, Newcomer was a cultural ambassador to India (invited by the U.S. Embassy there), resulting in an interfaith collaborative benefit album, “Everything is Everywhere” with Amjad Ali Khan, a world master of the Indian sarod, and his sons Ayan and Amaan. She also performed in 2012 and 2013 in Kenya and the Middle East at schools, spiritual communities and AIDS hospitals.
Besides her albums on the Available Light and Rounder Records labels, Newcomer has two companion books of poetry and essays, “A Permeable Life: Poems and Essays” and “The Beautiful Not Yet: Poems, Essays and Lyrics.” And, she has penned a play, “Betty’s Diner: The Musical.”
During Newcomer’s mini-retreat, participants will explore maintaining hope and the ability to envision during times of individual and community challenge. She will look how the process of keeping things human size helps us to experience the work of compassion, love, justice and spiritual awakening through the lens of faithfulness.
Participants will consider the things that have helped them maintain hope in the past as well as ponder if those things are still available to us, and if so how do we access them. In this retreat, Newcomer will use music, poetry, reflective writing and small and large group discussion.
Tickets for her performance have a suggested price of $20 per ticket, and $5 for CSB/SJU students and monastic members. However, monastic members and students are eligible for free tickets by making an email request here by midnight March 3.
Tickets for the mini-retreat have a suggested price of $10, and free for students.
During the 2020-21 academic year, the Fine Arts Series has introduced “Pay-As-You-Can ticketing” in an effort to make the arts more accessible to the public.
Please note that this concert is being streamed through Mandolin, a digital platform designed to help artists during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tickets will be purchased through Mandolin rather than the Fine Arts Series.
The Fine Arts Series events are supported in part by the voters of Minnesota through an operating support grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.