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Little Love Letters

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Like her stepsister Rosanne Cash, Carlene Carter spent much of her early career playing hide-and-seek with her father's rockabilly and classic country influences. (Where Rosanne had Johnny Cash for a role model, Carter's dad was honky-tonk hero Carl Smith.) Her first few albums found Carter hopping back and forth between old-school inspirations and a more contemporary feel. Perhaps not coincidentally, Little Love Letters, on which she achieved an ideal balance between old and new, was one of Carter's most commercially successful outings. The rockabilly-inflected barroom bounce of "Wastin' Time with You" and "I Love You 'Cause I Want To" stands easily alongside the timeless country ballad "Unbreakable Heart" (later a hit for Jessica Andrews), the rocking contemporary country sounds of "Heart Is Right" and the hit single "Every Little Thing," and the gospel-flavored stomp "Hallelujah in My Heart." Carter cowrote most of the tunes with two of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers (Howie Epstein and Benmont Tench), whose instrumental expertise also lends some serious ballast.


Born: September 26, 1955 in Nashville, TN

Genre: Country

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Carlene Carter has always straddled the line between country and rock and followed her own path. Beginning her career as a rock singer in the mid-'70s, she became immersed in the new wave in the late '70s before emerging as a new country singer in the late '80s. Throughout it all, her music has always infused roots music -- whether country or rock & roll -- with a nervy, edgy energy. Carlene is the daughter of June Carter and Carl Smith, who divorced when their daughter was just two. June would...
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Little Love Letters, Carlene Carter
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