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Rodney Crowell, Mary Karr ‘Kin’ Album: Legendary Writers Create Musical Family

Vanguard Records

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell and New York Times best-selling author Mary Karr have collaborated on a unique new project combining their respective talents as master storytellers. ‘Kin: Songs by Mary Karr and Rodney Crowell,’ produced by Joe Henry (Teddy Thompson, Solomon Burke), will be released on Vanguard Records on June 5, 2012.

Punctuating the title of the project, the album will spotlight several members of Rodney’s extended musical family, including Norah Jones, Vince Gill, Lucinda Williams, Lee Ann Womack, Rosanne Cash, Chely Wright, Kris Kristofferson and Emmylou Harris.

After reading Karr’s 1995 memoir, ‘The Liar’s Club,’ which spent more than a year on the New York Times Best Sellers list, Rodney name-checked the Texas-born author in ‘Earthbound,’ a track from his 2003 album, ‘Fate’s Right Hand.’ Karr has taught at Harvard and Syracuse University, where she still holds a chair in literature.

“I called out to her in the darkness because she was a bona fide poet I knew could write songs,” says Rodney. “And despite her professor’s pedigree, she’d ridden a bike in a mosquito truck’s fog.”

After hearing Rodney’s songs, Karr recognized her own less than perfect family. “We grew up about 100 miles apart in the same stretch of east Texas Ringworm Belt,” she notes, adding that both of their childhood homes had bullet holes in them from their parents’ drunken rampages.

In their most recent memoirs, Rodney’s ‘Chinaberry Sidewalks‘ and Karr’s ‘Lit,’ religion figures prominently. The pair claim a deep spiritual connection made them brother and sister — or kin — and informed their work.

“Neither of us was a crybaby,” Rodney says of the difficult circumstances they both endured in their respective childhoods. “We kept loving everybody we shared DNA with — no matter how crazy.”

“An outlaw pedigree isn’t always a disadvantage for a poet,” adds Karr. “This record’s about everybody.”

‘Kin’ will be released on June 5.

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