A life well lived is the best foundation for a successful music career. So as Paulette Carlson enters the next chapter in her career, the petite blonde with the distinctive voice is infusing her music with a wealth of experiences that take her artistry to a new level. She returns to the country music community with a new album, "It's About Time," filled with songs about life, love, family and the universal human experiences that unite us.
The same voice that sent sparks through country radio leading the groundbreaking band Highway 101, has returned with a compelling collection of new songs that will quickly remind listeners of Paulette's place in the country music firmament. As a founding member of Highway 101, Paulette helped re-define the face of country music in the late 80's with such innovative hits "Whiskey, If You Were A Woman," "The Bed You Made for Me," "Somewhere Tonight" and "Cry, Cry, Cry."
The band won vocal group of the year honors from both the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association in 1988 and repeated those victories in 1989. Paulette left to pursue a solo venture in 1990, briefly reuniting with the band for its 10th anniversary in the mid 90's. Then she disappeared.
In reality, her priorities shifted. "I had a daughter and she traveled on the road with me", recalls Paulette of juggling the demands of a successful country music career and motherhood.
Paulette, however, could never totally let go of music, a passion she'd had since her childhood in Moose Lake, Minnesota. In April of 2005, she returned to Nashville, and settled in to record her new record, "It's About time." After 2 weeks of pre-production and 11 days in the studio, her new album was at the pressing plant. She had a good reason for her self-imposed deadline. "I wanted to have it for our Vietnam Vets at "Operation Homecoming" in Branson, Missouri," she says of the June 2005 event that honored our Vets.
Vietnam Vets is a cause near and dear to Paulette's heart because her brother, Gary, served in the war. "What took me back to my music was a song I had written called "Thank You Vets," she says. "My brother, Gary, served in Vietnam in 1968 with the 82nd Airborne and in 1969 with the 173rd Airborne; he was a medic. Gary was 17 when he landed in Vietnam and was convoyed up to Hue in the first days of February 1968." What inspired Paulette to come out of retirement was the song "Thank You Vets" that she wrote for her brother, when he was in the VA hospital in the fall of 2004. "The war had finally caught up with him," she says. "and I thought we were going to lose him that day. I pulled my guitar out of my closet and sat on my bed and "Thank You Vets" wrote itself in a matter of 10 minutes. I don't think I changed a lyric on it," she says. The song became the catalyst that propelled Paulette back into the music industry and she's happy to be back.
Opting to exercise her creative freedom, Paulette produced the album on her own. Paulette wrote 10 of the 12 cuts on the album and the songs perfectly showcase the gloriously textured voice that is so instantly identifiable. Her voice is an instrument equally compelling whether Paulette is delivering the exuberant fiddle-laced title track or the poignant ballad "That Old Glass Case." "Basically it's a very country album," Paulette says of "It's About Time," with the second half of the album focused around "Thank You Vets" "I felt very inspired to record this album and it was a delight for me to do. It definitely was a whirlwind for all of us in the studio."
"You grow from your struggles," says Paulette, smiling as she recalls the different seasons in her life from dedicated club singer, to award-winning country artist, to wife and mother, and on again to singer/songwriter/producer. Call it maturity. Call it wisdom. No matter what you call it, thankfully Paulette Carlson refuses to call it quits. With her signature blonde mane flowing and her torchy voice soaring through the rafters, it's obvious when she takes the stage. Paulette is a woman who will never be content to rest on her laurels and "It's About Time" is only the latest chapter in a timeless career.