Deana Carter once worked with stroke patients

Deana Carter once worked with stroke patients

Deana Carter – I’ve Loved Enough To Know (Official Music Video)
Deana Carter – I’ve Loved Enough To Know (Official Music Video)

Deana Carter once worked with stroke patients

Years before she broke big with “Strawberry Wine,” country artist Deana Carter worked with stroke and head injury patients in Nashville.

A 1996 picture of a celebration for Deana Carter's successful debut album, "Did I Shave My Legs for This?" Left to right, former Capitol Records chief Scott Hendricks, Deana Carter and co-producer Chris Farren

And yes, turned out music became a big part of that.

“You saw the most connection when you put on the music they liked, music from their era,” Carter said. “Sometimes, music was the only thing they responded to.”

Carter, a Goodlettsville native, just marked the 20th anniversary of the debut album that included “Strawberry Wine” and made her a star.

But it took her years to get there.

Carter, daughter of well-known singer/producer Fred Carter Jr., first tried to land a record deal at 17 when her father first introduced her to heavy hitters on Music Row.

“Taking in my cassette, I felt like I needed big hair and this shirt and these jeans, and I thought it was more about outward stuff,” she said.

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“Obviously we got turned down. I wasn’t ready.”

So Carter headed to Knoxville and ended up with a master’s in science and education, with a focus on strokes and head injuries.

“It’s a miracle I ever graduated. As much as we partied in college, the head injury major was appropriate,” she said, laughing.

Working with those patients was tough though, Carter said.

“I got so attached. Some patients got better and some patients didn’t,” she said.

“It was a lot to be that young and see all that,” Carter said. “Coming in and seeing beds empty because patients were passing away? It was hard.”

Carter never stopped writing songs or performing wherever she could.

At the same time, she decided to try some music therapy with her patients, playing vinyl on a record player in the facility, trying to find songs that were popular when the patient was younger.

The reaction was immediate and powerful: “You saw the most connection when you put on the music they liked.”

  Deana Carter Music

While passionate about her patients, Carter’s first love always was music, and when doors opened for her in her late 20s, she jumped.

But she always remembered how her patients reacted to songs that moved them.

“It was crazy.”

Reach Brad Schmitt at 615-259-8384 or on Twitter @bradschmitt.

Deana Carter now

Age: 50, a landmark birthday she celebrated by running a full marathon

Where: Deana splits time between southern California and Nashville

Music: Deana plays about 50 dates a year, and she writes songs and produces new music for herself and others

Acting: She’s acting in two independent films, including one being made in Austin, Texas

Family: She’s raising a 12-year-old son, Hayes

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