American folk singer Carrie Newcomer on her music and her maiden tour of India.

On her first tour of India at the age of 51, American folk singer and songwriter Carrie Newcomer says she can’t imagine leaving without her music being influenced by the country. “It is hard to know but I cannot imagine that there wouldn’t be an influence,” said Newcomer, who just finished a tour of India.

“Everyone I have ever met who has travelled to India comes back and says they have been profoundly moved. India captures their heart. And I cannot imagine that I will leave here without being influenced in any way. So, it might end up in my music either way, in the lyrics or in the music, somewhere,” she concluded.

Sitting at the music room of the American Embassy School, where she worked with theatre and music students on performance and song writing, she recalled her musical journey that includes a number in Nickel Creek’s Grammy winning album “This Side”.

Early start

It began in the city of Elkhart in Indiana. “My family wasn’t musical. But in the city where I lived, there were many instrument makers,” she reminisced. Because of this, the schools had wonderful music programmes. “I started playing music through schools. I picked up some instruments and I started playing.” She was just a teenager when she decided to write her own songs. “I loved stories and poetry. So I picked up a guitar and started learning it, writing songs, creating stories and songs together.”

After a degree in visual art and education from Purdue University in 1980 she toured as a member of the folk group, Stone Soup, from 1982 to 1988.

Her first solo album, “Visions and Dreams”, was released in 1991. This was followed by 10 more, including “The Age of Possibility”, “The Gathering of Spirits”, “The Betty’s Diner” collection and the latest, “The Geography of Light”, released in February 2008. So how did she get attracted to folk genre? “I was always inspired by the singing poets. I loved artists who combined poetry and stories for songs. Early on, I used to listen to a lot of writers like Johnny Mitchell, Bob Dylan, James Taylor...,” she said.

Recurring themes

There is something beautiful in an ordinary day is a theme Newcomer often uses in her songs. “The theme that I come back to often is the idea that there is something beautiful in an ordinary day. I have a song called ‘Geodes’. In Indiana, geodes are rocks that look like ordinary rocks but when you open them up, there are crystals inside. I loved the metaphor... So, I use nature images often.” People and relationships too figure in her works. “People fascinate me...They are surprising, confusing and fun. So that often ends up in my songs.”

Newcomer cherishes her number “I should have known better”, which featured in Nickel Creek’s “This Side” that won the Grammy for best contemporary folk album in 2002. Alison Krauss, American bluegrass-country singer and fiddler who holds the record for the most Grammy awards by a female artist, introduced Newcomer to Nickel Creek.

“She (Krauss) was the producer of that particular album,” she recalls. “She knew of the song and she knew of me and she thought it would be a wonderful song for Nickel Creek to have. So she introduced them to me. They really liked the song and it was very exciting.”