By Luanne Fondell
Performing Arts Director
People often ask, “How do you find your artists?” Now that the Arts Association has put together 19 seasons, we can say that sometimes we find the artists, sometimes our audience members find the artists and sometimes, the artists find us.
In the case of Carrie Newcomer and pianist, Gary Walters, performing on November 16, here’s the story: I first heard of Carrie Newcomer from our daughter, Elisabeth. Elisabeth moved home to live with us in 2017 – the last year of my husband’s life. She may not have known it then, but the addition of this artist into our family’s music library would become a source of strength and inspiration in the months ahead.
Room at the Table
Elisabeth had attended one of Carrie’s concerts in Chicago and it made a deep impression on her. She talked about this artist’s kindness and gentle manner, as well as her music and message to the audience to search for the good in each other and make good change in the world. Songs like “I Heard an Owl” or “If Not Now.” She said that there was a time when the audience sang along on “Room at the Table” and it was not the least bit weird.
And so, Carrie Newcomer’s music entered our playlists. In the kitchen, in the car, on our phones, on road trips back and forth to Mayo Clinic. And our favorites emerged: “You Can Do This Hard Thing” and “Sanctuary.” We would get in the car after appointments and my husband would say to me, “Who should we listen to? Neal & Leandra? Peter Ostroushko? Chuck Suchy? Ingrid Michaelson? Carrie Newcomer?” He often called them by first name as if they were close friends. And whether the news from each appointment was good or bad, we returned to these musicians again and again as part of our “driving away” ritual – to celebrate or to be restored or to be comforted.
One day Elisabeth said, “Why don’t you bring Carrie Newcomer to Dawson some time?” I did a little research, mostly out of curiosity, assuming that this Grammy-winning artist, based in Indiana, would be out of our league. Thankfully, I was wrong. The next step was to ask the Arts Association board members to listen to her music and decide whether to add her to our season. The reactions were overwhelmingly positive. Contract signed. Carrie Newcomer scheduled for the 2018-2019 season.
Not so fast