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Zoe Speaks


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The husband-and-wife musical duo Zoe Speaks consists of Mitch Barrett and Carla Gover, who jump in and out of their Eastern Kentucky vernacular to play everything from traditional ballads to guitar-thumping contemporary acoustic tunes. Their music is drenched in the sounds of the Appalachian music they were raised with, but they draw from other influences and do not try to hold the music static and unchanging. Whether they’re playing as a duo or jamming with a band, vocal harmonies are a defining feature of their sound, and their relaxed performance style and accessible attitude let audiences feel like part of the family. They accompany themselves on guitar, clawhammer banjo, and dulcimer; sometimes Mitch throws in a story or Carla some clogging. The two have won a variety of songwriting awards and tour full-time in a large van with their two daughters, Zoe and Maizie.

Growing up in the foothills of the Appalachians in Madison County, KY, Mitch spent much of his childhood in the homes of his grandfathers. One was a fox hunter and tobacco farmer who plowed with mules; the other was a musician and farmer, of sorts—he grew corn with which he made moonshine). In the course of learning these grandfathers’ trades, there was much time for stories, jokes, and especially music.
Mitch demonstrated musical talent from an early age, performing with his mother in a regionally sought-after mountain duo. At age 17, he set out for the East Coast as part of the folk duo Mandala, which performed for more than 10 years.

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