Ever since I read a review in Sojourners years ago, I've listened to the music of Carrie Newcomer. She is one of my favourite singer songwriters,(Mary Chapin Carpenter being another) strongly connected with the Quakers, outspoken on issues of justice and peace, a poet of human relationships of love, loss, forgiveness and joy, and a singer whose voice ranges from conversational confidence to a clarion call to community and convictions essential to human flourishing.
She writes and sings out of a life committed to Christian principles and practices, but the spiritual is an undercurrent, a powerful but gentle pulling of the listener to consider and ponder, wonder and care for what goes on around us.
I've just ordered her Geography of Light album, another collection of songs that gently and at times peruasively, and occasionally assertively, invite or demand that the listener pays attention. Attentiveness to people, to our inner world, to the situations of others, to those ordinary experiences that hint at the extraordinary, and to the mundane which can contain mystery - Newcomer balances the poetry and the music, and the result is a style that is somewhere between folk and progressive country, but always the sense that wisdom, insight and compassionate observance of human longings and behaviour inform her thought and suffuse her music.
Her membership of the Quakers is for her a natural commitment, a spiritual context within which she is at peace and an ethos of gentle enquiry that resonates with her own reflective appreciation of human living, longing and loving - the emphases on peace, silence, pondering deeply, community building, and shared wisdom are not so much themes in her songs as presuppositions and assumptions of her poetry and her worldview.
There is some irony in her being voted one of the ten most influential musicians working in the States just now, and her not being as widely known as that would suggest. So this is an unabashed plug for her music, and her voice as a call to pay attention to the life we are living, and to be attentive to those who share that life.