About Carrie

Praised in the New York Times “as graceful vocally as she was in her movements”, “consistently stylish” (Boston Globe), and as a “cool, precise soprano” (Chicago Tribune), Carrie Henneman Shaw is a two-time McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians winner (2010, 2017). She has premiered major works by such Minnesota composers as Jocelyn Hagen and Abbie Betinis, whose annual Christmas carols she records for Minnesota Public Radio, and sung American premieres by such composers as Georg Friedrich Haas, Hans Thomalla, and Augusta Read Thomas. In addition to her work as an interpreter of contemporary works, Carrie specializes in music of the 17th century and has performed operatic roles with one of America’s leading Baroque opera companies, Boston Early Music Festival. Carrie is a member of Chicago’s Ensemble Dal Niente, Quince Ensemble, and uluuul. She holds degrees in English and voice performance from Lawrence University and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota. She teaches at the University of Washington in Seattle.

In Carrie’s Words…

I was born and raised in Monkey’s Eyebrow, Kentucky, on a dairy farm that extends from the banks of the Ohio River south through a sandy flatlands. I was what my family only ever describes as a naughty child, but really all I ever wanted was to learn how to make things, and if nobody was going to help me, I would do it myself. I took to singing and performance early, but my parents thought it’d wear me out more to be in gymnastics than in piano lessons. It wasn’t until we moved to Louisville to be closer to the doctors that my youngest sister needed to see regularly and my father passed away when I was in sixth grade that my energy became more seriously focused on music as my middle school choir teacher invited me into her classroom and an after-school music program, providing structure and a sense of belonging at a time when I was truly lost.

After primary school, I ended up at Lawrence University in central Wisconsin, lured by the experience of seeing a rehearsal of their production of Mozart’s Magic Flute, my first up-close-and-personal experience with operatic singing. I completed bachelor’s degrees in English and voice performance in 2000, spent a year as a newlywed working at a newspaper in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and then began graduate studies at the University of Minnesota. When I arrived in the Twin Cities, the biggest city in which I’d ever lived, my only goal was to work as a singer and eventually to be ‘successful’ whatever that meant. Struggling to fit into an opera-centric environment, I found a home with composers and the collaborative pianists studying with luminaries Margot Garret, Karl Paulnack, and later Tim Lovelace.

As I finished my degree, I began dipping my toes into the realm of early music, inspired by a course on the Baroque with Kelley Harness and her chapter on Barbara Strozzi. It’s through this exploration that I met Phil Rukavina, who in turn began to introduce me to a wider world of early music opportunities. I also began working at the American Composers Forum, where I managed grants and later began working in the private offices of successful composers around the Cities. Eventually I toured with the Minnesota institution The Rose Ensemble for a brief spell while also joining the nascent Ensemble Dal Niente and much later Quince Ensemble.

What initially was piecemeal began to coalesce into an identity as a hardcore adventurer in vocal music. I was awarded the McKnight Fellowship twice for my work, and over the course of the years, I’ve been able to work with and sing premieres of works by composers as wide ranging as Georg Friedrich Haas and Deerhoof and in period-instrument Baroque opera productions as well as dystopic futuristic operas with fixed electronic processing.

I now find myself teaching at the University of Washington in Seattle and look forward to building new relationships with fresh new possibilities ahead.


Recent Quince Vocal Ensemble Press:
New York Times: Back-to-Back Premieres Defy a Season of Leaner Offerings
Chicago Tribune: Courtney Bryan’s ‘Requiem’ had to wait out the pandemic — it’s all the stronger for it
New York Times: A Requiem, Derailed by the Pandemic, Arrives When It’s Needed Most
Star Tribune: “Boldly mixing new music and spoken word, Outpost ‘variety show’ bursts out of hibernation”

[T]he real magic of Shaw’s performance lay in her soaring, clear sound and the apparent ease with which she handled everything from big, emotional lines to soft, introspective statements and the tiniest of ornamental details.

 Elaine Schmidt, Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel (2015)

… — [T]hanks to the marvelous voice of soprano Carrie Henneman Shaw and the brisk and light-hearted narrative of composers Abbie Betinis and David Evan Thomas — it was a concert that was informative, fun and musically rewarding. 

One could say that the first half of this concert was good for filling in historical gaps (in entertaining fashion), while the second half is where the revelations occurred. That’s when Shaw emerged as the concert’s major musical force. Coming out of intermission with a haunting, hypnotic work by Ernst Krenek, she transfixed listeners with her clear, brilliant high notes.

….But, just as past Summer Song Festivals have brought us exceptional singers on their way up, one may wonder if Carrie Henneman Shaw isn’t this year’s big discovery.

Rob Hubbard – St. Paul Pioneer Press

Shaw offered a lusty contrast in the anonymous Je ne prise point tels baysiers (I think little of kisses like these), ably capturing the poem’s spirit with her coquettish delivery and silky tone.

Joseph Sargent – San Francisco Classical Voice

The soprano Carrie Henneman Shaw was as graceful vocally as she was in her movements, dancing under a veil as the spirit of Eurydice.

Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim – New York Times

I was most taken with guitarist Jesse Langen’s riveting account of Murail’s flamenco-influenced “Tellur” (1977) and by the well-coordinated efforts of the full ensemble,crowned by soprano Carrie Henneman Shaw’s virtuosic vocalizing, in the closing “Cantus.

Larry Fuchsberg – Minneapolis Star Tribune

[S]oprano Carrie Henneman Shaw brought plangent intensity to her solos in “Stabat Mater.

David Lewellen – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

…But the most transfixing moments may have been the most intimate, as when soprano Carrie Henneman Shaw brought a crisp clarity to the ornamented lines of Thomas Campion’s “Sing a Song of Joy” or Tim O’Brien’s resonant baritone lent power to Thomas Ravenscroft’s “Remember, O Thou Man.”…

Rob Hubbard – St. Paul Pioneer Press

[Blackburn’s piece] More Fools Than Wise , combines the text of Orlando Gibbons… The Silver Swan sung by soprano Carrie Henneman Shaw and a strange symphony for eight foghorns by ships: it’s one of the great successes of the album…