Mary Chapin Carpenter / YouTube
When Mary Chapin Carpenter was sixteen-years-old, her parents divorced, and she went through her first experience as a songwriter.
She wrote, “House of Cards,” a song about the divorce and how much it affected her. She played piano and guitar throughout high school, but never thought about performing in public until after she graduated high school.
Carpenter began playing at open mic nights in Washington, D.C. during her college years at Brown University, where she received a degree in American Civilization. During her time in the music scene in D.C., she met John Jennings, who became her producer and long-time collaborator.
She released her first album in 1987, produced by Jennings, and began gaining more success once she was marketed as a country singer.
Below are three if her most iconic and most important songs in her career.
Two albums after her debut, she released Shooting Straight in the Dark in 1990. That album included her highest charting hit so far, “Down at the Twist and Shout“, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard country charts. Not only did the song win her her very first Grammy award, but she was also asked to perform it at the pregame for Super Bowl XXXI.
Two years later, she released her most popular album to date, Come On Come On. It went quadruple platinum and stayed on the Country Top 100 list for more than 97 weeks! She released “Passionate Kisses,” a cover of Lucinda Williams’ 1988 song. It earned Carpenter a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Williams a song of the year Grammy.
Come On Come On‘s follow-up album, Stones In The Red, was a crossover hit for Carpenter. USA Today even called her “one of the genre’s biggest stars.” Her first single from that album. “Shut Up and Kiss Me” became her only No. 1 hit on the Billboard country charts and peaked at No. 90 on the Hot 100 chart.
The song won Carpenter a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Stones In The Red won the Best Country Album Grammy.
Carpenter has released 13 studio albums, four compilation albums, and countless singles.