Carter Sampson (Seen from Upstage) — 21st Annual Woody Guthrie Festival, 2018

Woodyfest 2018: Carter Sampson

Queen of Oklahoma

Queen of Oklahoma’s Pastures of Plenty Debut

This writer first [Sidenote: Our tenth Woodyfest 2018 story fea­tures the “Queen of Oklahoma,” singer-song­writer Carter Sampson.] saw Carter Sampson , when she played a short set at the Community Improvement Association (CIA) Stage at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival. A few die-hards sat in the fold­ing steel chairs at the out­door venue, brav­ing the 91° F (32.8° C) tem­per­a­ture and 51 per­cent humid­ity as long as the beer ven­dor kept the suds com­ing. This reporter was between assign­ments and decided to stick around.

Wearing her trade­mark red boots, Sampson told the audi­ence that she’s loved coun­try music since she was a child. She was dis­ap­pointed when, as a teenager, she real­ized her par­ents hadn’t named her “Carter” after the Carter Family. [Sidenote: She is, how­ever, dis­tantly related to coun­try music and rock­a­billy leg­end Roy Orbison; he was her great-grandfather’s cousin.] This set­back did not keep her from pick­ing up a gui­tar at age fif­teen. Writing songs soon followed.

And what songs they are. Readers not famil­iar with Sampson’s oeu­vre should check out Wilder Side,” Holy Mother,” and of course, Queen of Oklahoma.”

Without ever hav­ing seen her, this writer would be a fan. Apparently not the only one — Sampson aver­ages 220 shows a year. Considering she runs her career as a one-woman shop, han­dling every­thing includ­ing the book­ing, it’s astound­ing she’s had time to found and direct her non-profit. The annual Oklahoma City Rock ’n’ Roll Camp for Girls teaches aspir­ing girls, young women, and young non-binary stu­dents the ins-and-outs of the music busi­ness, cul­mi­nat­ing in a band show­case before a packed audi­to­rium. The camp is in its third year.

Carter Sampson — “Queen of Oklahoma”

A short list of Sampson’s achieve­ments and awards includes a spot as a  Mountain Stage NewSong Contest final­ist, first-place in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest (gen­eral cat­e­gory) for her song Wild Bird,” Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Songwriters Showcase final­ist, and fourth-place in the Telluride Troubadour Contest at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. In she per­formed her song Tomorrow’s Light at the Lincoln Center.

This was Sampson’s first year to play the big stage at the pas­ture. She’d added a pair of gold boots to her wardrobe, as well as a new album to her reper­toire. The set wasn’t her first Big Stage appear­ance, and it won’t be her last.

Gallery: Carter Sampson


About Chris J. Zähller

International Man of Mystery. Cocktail Nerd. Occasionally designs websites. Sometimes snaps a picture or two.

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