Carrie Newcomer: Silence, Song, Blessing and Waiting (Part One)

What is the relationship between silence and music? This week’s guest, acclaimed folk musician and educator Carrie Newcomer, helps us to explore this provocative question.

“To do music you have to be comfortable with silence… a song without the pauses is just cacophony. You have to be able to breathe, and take a breath. Juxtaposition: the sound, and the moments of pause.” — Carrie Newcomer

Carrie Newcomer’s CDs include The Point of Arrival, The Beautiful Not Yet and Kindred Spirits. She has been described as a “prairie mystic” by the Boston Globe and one who “asks all the right questions” by Rolling Stone.

She regularly works with Parker J. Palmer in live programs, including Healing the Heart of Democracy: A Gathering of Spirits for the Common Good and What We Need is Here: Hope, Hard Times, and Human Possibility. Newcomer and Palmer also are actively collaborating on The Growing Edge, a website, podcast, and retreat. Three of Newcomer’s songs are included in Palmer’s most recent book, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Old.

Other special collaborations include presentations with neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor, author Rabbi Sandy Sasso, and environmental author Scott Russell Sanders.

“I’ve always been a seeker…. I was the little kid who asked the questions you weren’t supposed to ask in Sunday School.” — Carrie Newcomer

Carrie lives in the woods of southern Indiana with her husband and two shaggy dogs. Find her online at Visit The Growing Edge at

This is part one of a two-part interview. To listen to part two, click here.

“What I discovered is that you never see the world or anyone or anything the same once you’ve blessed it. Once you’ve looked at it that way, it’s hard to look at it as anything else anymore.” — Carrie Newcomer

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

The song “Holy as a Day is Spent” is from the album The Gathering of Spirits. The song “The Beautiful Not Yet” is the title song of the album The Beautiful Not Yet. The song “Learning to Sit Without Knowing” is on the album The Point of Arrival.

“I live in southern Indiana; something really good happened to my writing when I gave myself permission to sound like a Hoosier! What I mean by that is that I gave myself permission to sound like the person I am. I’m so midwestern — I am the lady that brings the casserole when someone’s sick, you know, and I’m just really comfortable with that… my truest voice, my most powerful voice would always be my most authentic voice, my most connected voice.” — Carrie Newcomer

Episode 64: Silence, Song, Blessing and Waiting: A Conversation with Carrie Newcomer (Part One)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Carrie Newcomer
Date Recorded: May 9, 2019

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Carl McColman
Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.