Carlene Thissen is a singer, songwriter, and author who discovered her creative passion after a lengthy career in the business world. The shift from her left brain to her right was largely inspired by the Latin American and Haitian immigrants of a Florida agricultural community called Immokalee (rhymes with broccoli.) The people there inspired most of what Carlene has been blessed to create.
She describes herself as a normal, practical, and flawed human being. “I am so grateful to have received the ability and passion to reach others through stories – music and words about the peace of God's love, grace and forgiveness. I focus on making my music easy for people to relate to personally, songs about love and redemption, feeling lost and alone, and the joy of God's presence in our lives.”
In earlier years, along with her day-job, Carlene sang and played guitar and piano in churches and back yards in northern New Jersey, Minneapolis, and Chicago. Her voice and musical style were heavily influenced by 1960s/70s folk music (yes, she was at Woodstock!), early country music, and Catholic folk Masses.
After moving to Naples, Florida in 1995, she volunteered to teach music to preschool children in nearby Immokalee. She also joined the choir at Immokalee's Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, where she still sings today.
She was so enamored of Immokalee's people that she earned a master's degree in Latin American History and wrote her thesis about them. Then she turned that thesis into a reader-friendly book, Immokalee's Fields of Hope. When a friend offered to co-produce a documentary based on the book, Carlene wrote her first song, Take These Hands, and it became the background of a music video montage of the same name. After several more songs, Carlene was inspired to write another book, Called From Silence: The Father Sanders Novel, the biography of a beloved priest who served Immokalee's immigrants in the early 1980s, and died there in 1985.
Once that book was finished, Carlene turned once again to music. She has since written 20 songs, about half of them religious/Christian, and many of them based on the stories of the immigrant farm workers. She decided to record the religious/inspirational songs on her first album, Spring Rain.
Now that Spring Rain is complete, Carlene hopes to have some of her songs recorded by established artists. "I'd love to hear Amy Grant sing Just for a Moment, or Reba McEntire do Spring Rain."
Carlene's second priority is to write new songs that will guide non-believers and believers gently along the path of God's love. “Creating songs that will appeal to people who don't think about God is more challenging than 'singing to the choir,'” she says. "But it's more rewarding, too. Changing lives is a very big deal."
Performing at other church venues is her third priority, in addition to her ongoing music ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe. She did such a service not long ago at the First United Methodist Church of Somerville, NJ, with Pastor Dave Lehmkuel, a high school friend. He built his entire service around Carlene's music, including bible readings and Dave's beautiful sermons.
Her music is truly non-denominational, and she has done many verbal presentations that involved music at Southwest Florida churches. Now she wants to give concerts that involve words. Carlene believes strongly that her musical stories can inspire people to follow the message in one of her earliest songs, and “Go Change the World.”
Carlene Thissen, vocals, guitar, piano
The Spring Rain album was released in late October 2010.
In August, 2010, Spring Rain was named Song of the Month by the Christian Songwriters Network, and Spring Rain and Dance! frequently make it to the top 10 in various categories on Reverbnation.com .
Take These Hands
When You Call-1
Just for a Moment-1
Far From Memphis-1
Back There Again
Take These Hands
Go Change the World
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Love One Another
When You Call
Clouds Above the Rain
Typical covers are old and new folk and country songs.