Family Folky Fun

If you and the kids haven’t heard the prolific Mrs. Kate yet, you’re missing out

mrs kate PROMO SHOTWhen not on the road, “Mrs. Kate” Carpenter calls Callahan, a small town northwest of Jacksonville, home. But usually the folk singer/songwriter is either recording or in her van – traveling throughout the Southeast some eight to ten times a year, for a week or so at a time, making stops at preschools and elementary schools, festivals, libraries, senior homes, and venues with special needs groups and homeschool groups, among others.
Mrs. Kate’s homespun folk music, defined by catchy tunes and her own guitar accompaniment, is a source of joy and learning for all ages. Her specialty is the preschool and young elementary school set, for whom she has written themed performances such as Motivate with Mrs. Kate, which infuses puppetry, unusual instruments and active storytelling into motivational songs.
So far, Mrs. Kate has recorded eleven albums and two children’s music videos during her twenty two-year career. Her most recent recording, released in February, 2015, is Lightning Bug Lullabies, which can be downloaded from her website, She has an upcoming show at the Main Library in Jacksonville on July 13 at noon in the downstairs lounge, where she will perform an original family-oriented and interactive folk music show. Her previous summer tours of the public library circuit have promoted reading with her program titled Crack a Book.

Cali Kate
Born and raised in Burbank, California, among eight siblings, Carpenter led a childhood climbing walnut trees and engaging in family walnut-throwing wars. She cites her family as easily her biggest inspiration, and that influence is clear in some of her work such as her project NanaTunes, released in 2012, which refers to her grandmother, Nana.
In the early ’70s, Carpenter’s oldest brother began making and playing guitars, introducing her to the instrument and planting a seed. She describes her guitar experience on her website: “Though I never had much in the way of formal guitar lessons, I learned from watching people and studying chord diagrams, and I practiced a lot. Writing songs just came along as a part of the natural, creative course of my life. My musical influences include Peter, Paul and Mary, the Back Porch Majority, Kingston Trio, and Roger Miller.”
She met her husband, Tim Carpenter, while working one college summer in northern California’s Lassen Volcanic National Park. Tim attended seminary and became a minister, but they moved to Florida five years later when he changed careers. It was during this time that Carpenter nurtured her homemaking skills, cooking, sewing, quilting and gardening, while also writing songs.

Recording Kate
When Tim went back into ministry in the early ’90s, the couple moved to Callahan and built their home, Porch Swing Place. “Moving to the country was a great change for me,” Carpenter says. “At last I had a good amount of time to devote to my music.” She began to perform professionally and recorded her first album, Front Burner, in 1993. After a few more albums, she met her current producer, Jamie DeFrates, who helped record Mrs. Kate’s first live album, Hug-a-Bug-a-Boo, in 1999.
DeFrates (formerly of Jacksonville) is a St. Augustine-based award-winning soundtrack and score writer, producer and engineer for TV, radio, documentaries, corporate videos, theme park rides and shows. Carpenter and DeFrates worked on a second project together in 2000 – Gotta Be a Doer, a children’s song collection with spiritual and values-driven concepts. Two years later, her first video was produced to show kids the actions and dances in the Gotta Be a Doer songs.
“Kate has more drive and determination than anyone I know and I always find it inspiring to work with her,” says DeFrates. “She teaches important values through her music and makes it fun, and that’s a beautiful thing.”

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Article written by Meredith T. Matthews

Author: Arbus

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