Musician broke the mold long ago

Long before rock and country blends became the norm out of Nashville and L.A., Deana Carter pioneered a movement of musical fusion that has become the standard for contemporary acts on all sides of the spectrum. While she became a household name in country music after breaking into the industry in the mid ’90s, Carter seemingly always wrote and performed outside of the mold on each and every record. Cater reached megastar status by combining her legendary father’s influence (Fred Carter collaborated with Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel and Willie Nelson) with her own unique blend of country, jam-band and classic rock dimensions.

Today, Carter is still one of the most recognized faces in music and continues to write, tour, produce and act. Carter will be performing at the Key West Theater on Sunday, Nov. 15 and was kind enough to chat with the Keys Weekly about her upcoming visit to the Southernmost City.

KW:  Have you been to Key West before?

DC: Ok, two places in America I haven’t’ been: Alaska and Key West. So it’s my bucket list moment next week. I’m so excited to come to Key West!

KW: You’ve played in huge arenas all around the world. What is it like for you to perform in smaller venue like the Key West Theater?

DC: This year has been interesting. For years I did super big productions, but we brought it down this year and hit the road again with a full band. But this is the first time since I started out that I’ve done a solo show — just me, my guitar and my stories — ever!

KW: What can fans expect to hear in Key West?

DC: I’m looking forward to offering very personal glimpse of who I am. The smaller venue is conducive for that and it will allow people the chance to learn things about me they didn’t know before.

KW: Like what?

DC:  Well, I understand the theater was once a church and it’s very appropriate because the act really is more of a personal testimony about my life. I would dub it as a musical testimony that gets into my journey as a girl or a prodigal daughter and the music maps out that story with me.

KW: You were doing crossover between pop, rock and country long before it was the norm. Do you get enough credit for pioneering that trend?

DC: I was signed as an alternative artist. It was never straight ahead country music that I did. I left Nashville in 2000, but I feel like I was a catalyst in that happening and some of it I’m proud of. It was a like a quiet bomb dropped and the effects have been rippling out ever since my records. I was the first artist to ever put a rap loop in a country song and we just did a lot of firsts and broke through a lot of doors. The road had been paved, but no woman had ever come out with an electric guitar, oriental rugs and a jam band — and a really good one. It was like, ‘I’m playing rock n’roll with a country voice and I’m having a really good time.’ And no one was doing that in country music when I came out and I’m very proud of that.’

KW: What advice would you have for aspiring songwriters and performers in Key West?

DC:  Either don’t listen to the radio at all, or bombard yourself with something that doesn’t have commercial breaks. Get out of immediate gratification world and go into the quiet with your instrument and speak your truth. And don’t trend yourself into a corner, because that is what so many seem to be doing.

KW: Last question … when is the last time you caught up with Willie Nelson?

DC:  I just saw Willie in L.A. It was pouring rain and he was performing at the Greek. A girlfriend and I got to see him and we hung out on the bus afterwards. And he always asks me the same thing, “Hey kid, do you have any songs? What have you been writing?” He just feeds on songs like he’s still five years old. He’s amazing.

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