A composite of what's best about Southern Music today!”

— Sing Out!

Original roots music from the heart of Kentucky.

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Zoe Speaks consists of Kentuckians Mitch Barrett and Carla Gover, their daughter, fiddler/vocalist Zoey Barrett, her multi-instrumentalist fiancé Arlo Barnette, and bassist Owen Reynolds, who draw on their deep roots in the region to put their own spin on everything from traditional ballads to finely-crafted originals. Close family harmonies are a defining feature of their sound, and while their music is drenched in the flavor of the mountain music they grew up with, they skirt the cutting edge of tradition. Their music follows in the tracks of socially conscious Kentucky writers like Jean Ritchie and John Prine, with a distinctly progressive bent.  A veritable songwriting powerhouse, their song contest wins include the Telluride Troubador Contest, Merlefest's Chris Austin Contest, Rocky Mountain Folks Fest, and Kerrville New Folk, among others. A staple on the Kentucky music scene for over a decade with three successful CDs under their belt, they are newly back together with a brand-new album called Wings. They accompany themselves on guitar, claw hammer banjo, upright bass, and sometimes dulcimer and clogging feet. 
    

Our new video! 

We are proud to feature the students from the Kentucky Center Governor's School for the Arts in our first music video, for the song "Wings of a Dove"! Please let us know what you think, and share it with your friends who might like our music! The video was produced by Oaxacan artist Edus Herdezoje.

 

Zoe Speaks Chosen for Prestigious Program! 

We are thrilled to announce that Zoe Speaks was just selected by South Arts to participate in its Performing Arts Discovery Program, for which we'll be traveling to Florida this fall to perform for international presenters from venues in Australia, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Ireland and the UK, sharing some of the history, context, and culture that make our region’s music so rich. Onward and upward! Thanks to the Kentucky Arts Council for nominating us and to all of our friends for supporting us! We can't wait to represent Kentucky overseas!

Louisville Waldorf School 

We always love performing for Kentucky students, and we fell in love with this little school in Louisville, tucked into a pocket of trees and filled with art, music, and conscious children and teachers! We danced, sang, and heard a few Jack Tales from Mitch!

What My Mom Taught Me About Making A CD 

So, my mother didn't know anything about making albums per se, but something she DID teach me helped me get through a recent challenge we encountered while making the latest Zoe Speaks CD. See, we found out a few weeks ago that there had been a hard drive crash involving our project, and that data had been lost. It turned out that not all of it was gone, but we were set back several months in having to re-do a lot of our harmony parts and instrumental solos. I felt SO frustrated and put-upon, but after a while a memory surfaced. My mother was a brilliant seamstress (just like HER mother), and she made sure that I learned how to sew when I was growing up. She started me on easier patterns, and we worked our way up. At some point we graduated to making a dress, which required that I learn how to sew in sleeves. And since it was the eighties, those poofy sleeves were popular and I had to sew in GATHERED sleeves, which are especially fussy. Well, even the most experienced tailor can get flummoxed when sewing in a sleeve--you have to turn the garment AND sleeve inside out, and basically sew inside a small tunnel of fabric. There are several points where things can go wrong, and when I was first learning, they often did. I would diligently sew all evening, get the sleeve all pressed and pinned, sew it in, and......turn the dress right side out for the moment of truth, only to find out that I had screwed it up, with a seam on the outside, or the wrong side of the fabric facing outward. Out would come the seam ripper, along with some tears of frustration, and I'd have to take out every stitch I'd sewn and go through the whole painstaking process again. At some point in my feelings of self-pity over our musical setback, I felt like mom was at my elbow, reminding me that sometimes you just have to get out the seam ripper and do it over again. I don't know why this glitch with our CD happened, but I am grateful for the real-world lessons my mom gave me that help me to be strong and resilient in the face of challenges, and, just like with that tacky dress I made back in 1986, I am DETERMINED to finish the project and make it better than it was before. Thanks, mom.

Redwood Cooperative School 

We enjoyed the opportunity to play for and with Redwood Cooperative School in Lexington! We were joined by Appalatin's bassist, José Oreta. It was a wonderful day at a wonderful school, full of awake minds and engaged hearts.

Oh-so-close! 

We are nearing the release of our new CD--the recording is almost done and we are prepping our crowdfunding campaign and planning our PR strategies! This is the place to come for more news about it all!

Niles Gallery at UK 

We had a blast playing at the John Jacob Niles Center at the University of Kentucky, Carla's alma mater. The panels decorating the room were carved by KY music historian Niles himself!

Studio Time! 

We are having a blast in the studio at Morehead State University, working on our new project "Wings"! More soon about this new music, but meanwhile here are some shots from the studio...

And our lovely backup singer, Zoey!

shows

Previous events

Sep29

PPPP Proudly Presents: House Concert w/Zoe Speaks

Chez Pistrang, Cleveland, TN

This will be a wonderful and intimate house concert in the home of our friends Mark and Wendy. Because this is a private event, please RSVP to the following email, or message Mark via the FB page: mpistrang@juno.com https://www.facebook.com/events/1957698064252271/

Sep23

CD Release Concert & Party

Minglewood, 59 N Limestone St. , Lexington, KY 40507

We can't wait to celebrate the release of WINGS with you all in a lovely and intimate venue in downtown Lexington. Doors open at 6:30--come and have some locally-sourced food and craft drinks, then hear the tunes from the new album at 7:30! All ages are welcome--come fly with us!

Carla opens for Tish Hinojosa

Goodwood Brewing, 636 E Main St, Louisville, KY 40202

Don't miss this rare Kentucky appearance of acclaimed Texas songstress Tish Hinojosa! Tickets are $10 at the door, and a range of craft beverages can be had. Carla and Yani Vozos (of Appalatin) will open the show with a few tunes!

Aug1

Singing Bird Music School (Carla)

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Berea, KY 40403

Musicians of all experience levels (age 10 and up) are welcome to participate in three days of hands-on classes in old time fiddle, banjo, guitar, flatfoot dancing, and singing with teaching artists Pam Gadd, Sam Gleaves, Carla Gover, John Harrod, Michael Parks, Lucian Parker, and Deborah Payne. The school welcomes beginning musicians. Visit this site for complete information: https://www.singingbirdschool.com/

Jun25

Cowan Creek Mountain Music School (Carla & Zoey)

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Cowan Community Center, Sturgill Branch, Whitesburg, KY

The annual blessed time of music-making and friendship in beautiful Letcher County. Carla will be teaching Intermediate Banjo, and there'll be nightly concerts and square dances, and AWESOME kids program, and a whole lot of love! The camp is very affordable--learn more and sign up here: http://cowancreekmusic.org/

Cornbread & Tortillas w/Appalatin

Leavitt Amp Concert Series, Mountain Heritage Stage Downtown, Whitesburg, KY

Stay tuned for more details about this extravaganza of an evening, starting off with our collaborative production showing connections between Appalachia and Latin America via music, dance, and stories, entitled Cornbread & Tortillas. We'll finish the evening with sets from Zoe Speaks and Appalatin, the two bands who collaborated to create the project!

May26

Pioneer Salt Works Festival

Pioneer Village, Manchester, KY

We are tickled to play near Carla's beloved Redbird River, in the county where she is related to most of the population! Zoe Speaks: 1 PM Clogging Workshop: 2:45 Storytelling Workshop: 3:30

May5

Derby Breakfast Celebration

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Old Capitol Lawn, 300 W Broadway, Frankfort, KY 40601

We are proud to play for the good people of the Commonwealth, on the Old Capitol Lawn in downtown Frankfort. Come and get some free breakfast, and we'll pick you a few, followed by the talented young Webb Twins on fiddle and banjo! We promise to elevate the vibe in Frankfort---won't you join us?

Mar22

Hancock Bank & Trust Coffeehouse Series

Glema Mahr Center for the Arts, 2000 College Drive, Madisonville, Ky 42431

We're happy to be returning to this fabulous venue in Madisonville with the whole gang to perform music from the new Wings album and enjoy the wonderful space and excellent sound of this state-of-the-art theater. Tickets are $20, with discounts for students and seniors. For more info visit http://www.glemacenter.org/