Some artists are harder to write feature stories about. Carrie Newcomer is one of them. There's only so much room.
At the risk of fawning... The Beat enjoys interviewing Carrie Nwcomer. She's generous with her time, polite and engaging, and always has interesting things to say.
Too many of them.
We struggle when writing the eventual feature story because of the wealth of interesting/cool/funny/pertinent things Newcomer reveals in interviews. (She's not alone in this. There have been a handful of artists with whom we've spoken over the years that affect us this way.)
For example, our feature story didn't have room to discuss her world travels, organized through agencies that focus on community service and social justice issues - issues that are and have been close to her heart. Most recently, she's become affiliated with the Interfaith Hunger Initiative. She's toured the Middle east with a couploe different groups that focus on the arts and nonviolent conflict resolution. She has shared the stage with Sojourners' founder Jim Wallis.
We didn't have room for her quote about what she's brought back from these travels, which she sums up thusly: "I'm taken and delighted by how we are different, that places are unique and have their own history, that cultures are rich and deep. But I'm at the same time taken by the threads that pull between us. When you sing a song about love, family, grief, struggle, hope - especially hope - those ideas are common and recognizable everywhere you go."
A Quaker, Newcomer has always allowed her faith to inform her work, but not in dogmatic fashion, but rather from the ground up. A very interesting quote: "There is a spiritual current in what I do. But I'm one of a growing number of people who say 'Let's not put (the word) 'sacred' into too small a container.'"
We didn't have room in print to discuss the joy she gets from teaching about writing and creativity, or about her friend, writer Parker Palmer. "I'm a restless creative spirit," she said.
Still, she consideres herself a songwriter whose (relative) success has afforded her these options to pursue.
"My approach is more literary maybe. I write essays, poetry, short stories, and I may need to write an entire piece to come up with a line or an idea that will make a song."
"But part of why I'm a songwriter is because I love what happens when you put music and language together. Lyrics and poetry are two different animals. Music informs language and language informs music. They're completely entwined."
Something more practical to close. Here's a link to the web page for her upcoming record (and companion book), A Permeable Life.