Ypsi Song Fest

The Ypsilanti District Library Presents

The Tenth Annual Ypsi Song Fest

September 16-17, 2016

Featuring Carlene Carter


Ypsi Song Fest is YDL’s annual festival celebrating the art and craftsmanship of talented songwriters. Over the last ten years, YDL has hosted some of the finest songwriters of this generation. We have been honored to bring these performers to our community in support of Ypsilanti’s vibrant music scene.


Ypsi Song Fest’16 Schedule

All events are free and open to the public.


Motown Revisited

Friday, September 16
WCC's Towsley Auditorium, Morris Lawrence Building

Celebrating the time when Detroit was the music capital of the world, John E. Lawrence hosts a special evening featuring original Motown musicians as well as local artists performing the songs of Motown legends The Temptations, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson and more.

Featuring original Motown musicians:

  • Al McKenzie (keyboards), former musical director for The Temptations, now working with Martha Reeves and Aretha Franklin
  • Ray Moore (drums), formerly with The Four Tops and The Spinners, now with the Miracles
  • Ted Brannon (bass), who has worked with Edwin Starr and The Chairman of the Board
  • The New Fantastic Four


Family Songwriting Fest

Saturday, September 17
YDL-Whittaker, 5577 Whittaker Road

Join Lori Fithian of Drummunity for an interactive drum circle (Community Room)

Explore sound at instrument stations: Play real instruments at the Instrument Petting Zoo hosted by Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra musicians and SHAR music, then make your own instrument to take home. (Youth Department)

Stix and Tones: Compose music with the Stratus Ensemble!

Teen lyrics workshop with Akili Jackson. Prepare to sing with Mr. Lawrence or rap with the YYO Jazz Ensembles. (Teen Area)

Teen songwriting workshop with John E. Lawrence of Washtenaw Community College. Write a song as a group to perform on the afternoon stage. (Community Room)

Teen stage featuring the YYO Student Jazz Ensembles.

Finish the day listening to high energy, world pop music by October Babies.

Carlene Carter

Saturday, September 17
Bona Sera Cafe, 200 W. Michigan Avenue

An intimate acoustic concert with Carlene Carter. Prior to her concert, Martin Bandyke, annarbor’s107one morning host, will interview Carlene Carter for an up-close and personal conversation.

About our guest artist, singer-Songwriter Carlene Carter

In her current shows, Carlene Carter recalls her early days as a teenager on the road with the Carter Family, and her mom June telling her: "Now you look pretty cute, and you sound OK when you sing, so I think the folks are gonna like you. But what you really gotta do is buckle down and learn how to write a song. If you could just write one simple little song, kinda like the one I did, you know, like 'Ring of Fire'..." 

Rather than buckling under such pressure, it wasn't long before the young descendant of the First Family of Country Music had written (with Susanna Clark) what would be her own enduring country classic, "Easy From Now On," a hit single for Emmylou Harris in 1978, later recorded by Suzy Bogguss, Terri Clark, and most recently the reigning top female country vocalist Miranda Lambert, who said: "That's a ridiculously great song."

The song led to a record deal for Carlene with Warner Bros., where she made several albums in England in the late 1970s and early '80s, writing most of her own material, some in collaborations with her producer and husband Nick Lowe, and duet partners Dave Edmunds and Paul Carrack.  The combination had journalists inventing new terms to describe the sound, such as "new-wave country" or even "cow-punk."  John Rockwell of The New York Times wrote of her 1980 album Musical Shapes: "She has blended Carter Family country traditionalism with the energy and intelligence of British new-wave rock.

The results are just delightful."  At the same time Carlene was co-writing tracks for The Doobie Brothers (their 1980 hit "One Step Closer"), Leo Sayer, and The Go-Go's.

Returning to the U.S. to perform again with the Carter Family in the late 1980s, Carlene also returned to Warner Bros. for what would be her greatest commercial success on the country charts, with hits she co-wrote (many with members of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers) like the title track for her Grammy nominated I Fell In Love album in 1990.  Jay Cocks wrote in Time magazine:

"Her roots are in The Carter Family, but her songs are singular; she's country's tight connection to the past and future. 'I Fell In Love' was her breakthrough hit--Sylvia Plath at the honky-tonk."  Patrick Carr summed it up in Country Music magazine: "She is one of our time's most effective and powerful songwriters." 

Carlene followed up that success with her biggest world-wide hit single, "Every Little Thing" (co-written with Al Anderson of NRBQ), from the album Little Love Letters in 1993, which also included collaborations with Radney Foster, John Jorgenson, and legendary Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin.

Her diversity as a songwriter was evident during this time with Grammy nominated blues and soul singer Mighty Sam McClain's powerful cover of her 1980 song "Too Proud" in 1993; and future Time Jumpers singer Dawn Sears' uptempo country "Uh Oh (Here Comes Love)," written by Carlene with Robert Ellis Orrall and Howie Epstein in 1994.

Her 1995 album Little Acts of Treason contained more co-writes with Al Anderson, but as People magazine said: "The real stunner here is 'Change,' a ballad she wrote that is an introspective look at Carter's life, demonstrating her maturity as a songwriter and as a singer of deeply felt emotions."

Two best-of Carlene Carter CDs followed during a long hiatus from recording, while two of her earliest compositions resurfaced on box-sets of her recently departed parents: "Another Broken Hearted Girl," written with her mother in 1975, appeared on June Carter Cash, Keep On the Sunny Side: Her Life in Music; and "It Takes One To Know Me," written as a birthday present for her stepfather when she was still a teen, closed Johnny Cash: The Legend, both in 2005.  Of his influence on her and stepsister Rosanne Cash as songwriters, Carlene remembers: "He would sit for hours with us on a tour bus, teaching us chords. He taught me to be authentic and follow my own thing. He told me not to be afraid to be unique, which was a good thing because Nashville never knew what to do with me! If someone asked me to do something I didn't want to do, or didn't think was right, I wouldn't do it. Sometimes, it's good to stick to your guns."

Returning to the studio for Stronger in 2008, Carlene wrote all of the songs herself (except one co-write) for her most personal album to date.  Elvis Costello referred to it as "astounding" while Bernie Taupin called it "a staggering achievement."  Legendary country music journalist Chet Flippo wrote: "This is why you should care about Carlene Carter: She puts her whole life into her music in a way few artists dare or accomplish. Not just snippets of a diary. I mean her life experience, her guts and her whole psyche. It goes in there. It's not always a pretty recipe. But the results are often gems of music."

Her most recent release, Carter Girl, is a tribute to her family, with songs spanning three generations, back to the original trio in the 1920s and '30s, through her mom and aunts Helen and Anita in the '40s and '50s, and two of Carlene's own songs honoring them: a new co-write with family patriarch A.P. Carter on "Lonesome Valley 2003," Carlene's emotional update of the Carter Family standard; and a reprise of her 1990 look back at her own childhood in "Me and the Wildwood Rose."  NPR's Ken Tucker said: "What Carlene Carter does on Carter Girl is significant. She doesn't approach these old songs as sacred relics to be enshrined with pious respect. Rather, she treats them like living, vital pieces of art that can withstand being taken apart, thought about and re-imagined. In the process, she comes up with her own excellent piece of work."

For the last two years, Carlene has been on the road as solo opening act and duet partner with rock legend John Mellencamp, who told USA Today: "Every night she's been my singing buddy. If there is a spitting image of June, it's Carlene. She talks like her mom, has the same opinions as her mom. We got along immediately."  Of their upcoming album, Sad Clowns and Hillbillies, he said: "We wrote a couple of songs together, and she wrote some and I wrote some."  Carlene said: "Working with Mellencamp, I made new fans, people that may have never heard of me. They may have heard I was related to the Carter Family or Johnny Cash somehow, but what they got was pure Carlene. Very much in the spirit of the Carter Family, I'd just go out and do what makes people happy. I really enjoyed the process of playing by myself and I'm going to continue to do it for a while. It really does prove my theory that it's all about the songs."










September 1-October 20
YDL-Whittaker Community Room, 5577 Whittaker Road

In conjunction with the Ypsi Song Fest, YDL is pleased to host the traveling exhibit Backstage Pass:  Baron Wolman and the Early Years of Rolling Stone.  As chief photographer for Rolling Stone magazine from 1967-1970, Baron Wolman pioneered rock photography with portraits of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Frank Zappa, and many others.  From contact sheet to cover, the exhibit presents an intimate view of these music legends and explores how iconic events like Woodstock have contributed to our cultural memory.


Thank you to our sponsors!

This year’s YSF’16 artwork was created by Matt Talbot. Matt has created several of the YSF designs over the years. For more of Matt’s amazing work, visit mattrobot.com. 

Funding for YSF’16 comes from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) and the National Endowment for the Arts. Many thanks to our local sponsors who provide services and support of the Ypsi Song Fest: Worm Farm RecordingVG Kids, Martin Bandyke,annarbor’s107one, Jeremy Baldwin, WEMU.

About Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs

A vibrant arts and cultural scene is important to strong communities, Michigan’s excellent quality of life, and, ultimately, to Michigan’s economy. The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) strengthens arts and culture in Michigan by increasing its visibility; supporting arts education; encouraging new, creative and innovative works of art; and broadening cultural understanding. A key conduit for arts and cultural information, MCACA is also a source of arts and culture grant funding. To view the complete list of grants awarded for FY2016 by program click here.  To view the complete list of grants awarded for FY2016 by county click here.  


Just In

October/November 2017 New & On Order DVD/Blu-ray
A listing of DVD's and Blu-ray added to the collection in October/November 2017
View in catalog