Original roots music from the heart of Kentucky.

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Zoe Speaks consists of Kentuckians Mitch Barrett, Carla Gover, and 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. A smooth, mellow instrumental mix lays the background for the close vocal harmonies that are a defining feature of their sound. A veritable songwriting powerhouse, their awards include songwriting wins at Telluride Bluegrass Fest, Merlefest, Rocky Mountain Folks Fest, and Kerrville Folk Fest, among others. A staple on the Kentucky music scene for over a decade with three successful CDs under their belt, they are back together and set to release a new album this summer. They accompany themselves on guitar, claw hammer banjo, upright bass, and sometimes dulcimer and clogging feet. 
    

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!

New Video! 

We had fun working with Kentucky video artist Nathan Paul Isaac, recording an old song and a couple of new ones from the upcoming album. We'll be posting them soon here!

Alabama Fun! 

Here are a few pictures from our recent show in Alabama. Birmingham sure did make us feel welcome! We were very proud to sing with our daughters, Maizie and Zoey!

Cornbread & Tortillas Fest! 

We had an amazing time performing with Appalatin at the multicultural Cornbread & Tortillas Festival in Lexington, KY! Other performers included Jeri Katherine Howell, Jorge Luis Ruiz, and el grupo del baile folclórico de la casa de la cultura hispana.

Zoe Speaks signs with Kosson Talent! 

We have exciting news to share! When we decided last fall to begin performing again as Zoe Speaks, we knew we were excited, and we knew we had a special musical synergy that we were happy to be exploring again. It felt healing. It felt good. It felt RIGHT. But we never dreamed we'd have so much support from all of you--thanks for all the emails, comments, kind words, and for showing up at venues across the state these past six months. 

But we REALLY never dreamed we'd now be getting the chance to work with a nationally-known booking agency, Kosson Talent. We met the founders of the agency, Larry Kosson and Robin Spielberg years ago at a music conference, and they reached out to us recently when they heard we were performing together again. After a series of talks in which we discussed goals, dreams, plans, and what it might look like for us to work together, we are happy to announce that we signed with them last week to represent our performances nationally. 
What we are learning about Robin and Larry (and their assistant, Meghan!) is that not only do they run a top-notch agency with the know-how to help us to achieve some of our long-held musical goals, but that they are also wonderful people with whom we share many values and visions. We are proud to be associated with them, and humbled by their belief in our music. And we are SO EXCITED to be getting "out there" again! It really is a dream-come-true! 

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all your support and friendship over the years. We invite you to check out the website of our new agency "home" (and the impressive roster they represent) at the link below. 
Kosson Talent

shows

Previous events

Carla in "In These Fields"

Union Church, 200 Prospect Street, Berea, KY

The Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music presents IN THESE FIELDS: a folk opera by Silas House and Sam Gleaves. Starring Jairis Carter, Sam Gleaves, Carla Gover, Silas House, Jason Howard, Deborah Payne and Brett Ratliff. Union Church, 200 Prospect St, Berea, KY 40403. Free and open to the public, donations will be accepted to benefit the Berea College Loyal Jones Appalachian Center and Union Church.

Jun19

Cowan Creek Mountain Music School

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Cowan Community Center, 81 Sturgill Branch, Whitesburg, KY 41858

This amazing week of learning in Carla's hometown is a must-attend for lovers of old-time Kentucky music. She'll teach singing and songwriting, and there are also classes in banjo, fiddle, guitar, bass, singing, old time string band, and storytelling! For more information, visit: www.cowancreekmusic.org

Jun5

Hindman Family Folk Week

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Hindman Settlement School, 56 Education Lane, Hindman, KY 41822

Carla will be teaching her Granny Life Skills class as well as flat footing at this amazing week of music and fellowship nestled in the mountains of EKY, while Mitch is on the road making some music out west. If you want to really unplug and have some relaxed time with your family, this is the week for you! https://www.hindmansettlement.org/programs/cultural-heritage-programs/family-folk-week/

Mar17

Songs of Freedom & Justice with Zoe Speaks and friends

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Living Arts & Sciences Center, 362 N Martin Luther King Blvd, Lexington, KY 40508

Throughout the course of our history as a nation and world, music has always accompanied and spurred social change. During this unprecedented time in our country’s evolution, come and find solidarity through music as we sing songs to keep us inspired, engaged, unified, and hopeful. All are welcome and lyrics will be provided. Raise your voice and rise up as we kick off this Gallery Hop and Arts Showcase Weekend in downtown Lexington!