Mary Chapin Carpenter
Mary Chapin Carpenter is as unlikely a star as one can find in the cookie-cutter mainstream country music scene. She began her career in earnest on the folk-music circuit in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s, making a name for herself and developing a sizeable following thanks to her smart songwriting and crystal-clear vocals. After signing to a major label, her third record yielded a surprise smash hit with the Cajun-inflected country-rock song "Down at the Twist and Shout," an ode to a favorite D.C. nightclub. Her fourth record, 1992's Come on Come On, featured several hits, including a version of Lucinda Williams' "Passionate Kisses," and won several awards, selling over 2 million copies. In 1994, Stones in the Road saw Carpenter return to her early, folksier sound, and despite its lack of Top 10 hits, the album sold a million copies. Although Carpenter continued to put out critically acclaimed releases for the next 10 years, none have matched the zenith of Come On Come On. In 2006, Carpenter left Sony and was picked up by Zoe Records, which released The Calling in 2007 and the adult contemporary-leaning The Age of Miracles in 2010.