New York native and award-winning voice-over artist, Carrington McDuffie recently wrapped the narration of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Personal History,” by Katherine Graham; the story of the woman who helmed the Washington Post during one of the most turbulent periods in the history of American media. The audiobook will release on October 17th of this year. Academy Award winner Steven Spielberg has directed Academy Award Winners Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in the film adaptation of the book, “The Post,” which will open for a limited theatrical release on December 22nd.
Carrington has narrated over 200 audiobooks, performed voiceovers for a number of national ad campaigns, and voiced endless characters and dialects in stories and video games. She has worked for clients ranging from Random House to the Smithsonian, and even World of Warcraft. MacDuffie’s warm and sensual voice, coupled with her versatility as a performer has earned several AudioFile Earphones Awards. She has also been a frequent finalist for the Audie Award, including for her original audiobook “Many Things Invisible.”
Not only is she an award-winning voice actor, but she is also an internationally published poet and recording artist. She plays live shows in Austin throughout the year.
Carrington’s music combines poetic lyrics with Americana, folk, and rockabilly, with an infusion of 80’s synth pop. Carrington strums her way into your heart on her electric ukulele and plays on every emotion. Her latest musical venture is the six-song EP Rock Me to Mars (April 2017), which was recorded and produced by another Austin local, Rob Halverson at his Halversonics studio — where reggae legend Jimmy Cliff recently cut some tracks. Halverson and Carrington have formed a powerhouse partnership in the studio, developing what has become her quintessential sound; a unique melting pot of genres and audio textures.
We had an amazing opportunity to interview Carrington. Check out the interview below.
Hi, Carrington! Thank you for granting the interview. You have several amazing projects that you took part in. Namely, the narration of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Personal History,” by Katherine Graham. How would you describe “Personal History” to someone who has not read the book and only know the film adaptation—“The Post?”
“Personal History” is a lengthy, in-depth, Pulitzer-Prize-winning autobiography; Graham’s own perspective on her entire life — so there’s a great deal of detail that sets the scene for how she came to own The Post. She describes, in detail, how she dealt with the situation she found herself in: the owner/publisher of a huge media company and the first woman to have a seat at the table of corporate power — media power in particular. She was completely unprepared in many ways, but she’d loved The Post and had tracked its evolution since she was a child. It was a fascinating journey, through decades of social and political change and upheaval. Her father, her mother, and her husband – and she herself – were all at the hub of those changes. Her tenure at The Post included Watergate, the Vietnam War, many presidencies, and so much more.
Graham was an extremely articulate woman. Despite the density of the autobiography (the audiobook itself is 30 hours long!), there’s an easy flow to her writing, which unfolds easily and succinctly; the story of the Pentagon Papers, which is covered by the movie, is just a small part of her incredible story. The theme the book and the movie is the importance of freedom of the press, and the importance of the freedom of the press and upholding that freedom.
Do you expect to narrate other non-fictional stories on American media?
I think it’s very likely! I have narrated the interview-based biography of Joni Mitchell, an in-depth biography of Pussy Riot, one of Santana, and another of Jack Kerouac, which was penned by his long-time girlfriend. I expect to be cast for another project on American media at any moment!
Which part of researching “Personal History” resonated with you the most?
I listened to her voice on YouTube, which struck a chord with me. As a narrator, you want to bring to life the spirit of the person, but not to impersonate.
The Graham family’s summer estate was located in the town outside New York City where I grew up, so I was familiar with it, and many of her observations about that world were completely recognizable to me.
At the moment I’m reading Dennis Lehane’s “The Given Day,” set in the turbulent times of Boston after the First World War.
I’m fascinated by the archetypal psychology of fairy tales, and I’d love to narrate any of the many tales collected by the 19th-century Scottish poet, novelist & literary critic Andrew Lang. I love character voice work, and those tales contain plenty of ogres and strange creatures to portray!
Which audiobook narration has influenced you the most and why?
It’s a toss-up!
I loved narrating “The Red Necklace,” a young-adult novel which takes place during the French revolution, and which required lots of broad character work – such as an evil Russian count, and a vulnerable young French princess. The main character, a Romanian gypsy boy, starts as a child and progresses through to adulthood, moving to different countries and speaking different languages. I had to track him with my voice so he clearly went through these changes, but was still recognizable to the listener as himself. I learned a tremendous amount from this process!
Narrating “Words Will Break Concrete: The Passion of Pussy Riot” made a deep impression on me. Written by a Russian-American journalist who spent a lot of time with those girls, interviewing them at length, following them to where they were imprisoned in Siberia, the book contained all the text of the amazing impromptu speeches made by the girls during their kangaroo-court trials. With all the Russian names and the complexity of their stories, the book was difficult to narrate, but the clarity of their vision and their commitment to expressing themselves was inspirational.
I’m waiting for the movie!
What are some of your favorite films?
NOTE: Use this section to discuss some of your favorite films and why.
I will try to keep this short because this is a long list.
Young Frankenstein,” “Monty Python & the Holy Grail,” and “This Is Spinal Tap” are probably the three funniest movies I have ever seen. Humor transforms the spirit, and movies are a great way to convey humor.
“The Third Man” and “Billy Budd” are two of my favorite black and white classics. They are timeless stories, and beautiful to look upon.
“The Ice Storm” and “Traffic” are two of my favorite contemporary dramas — moving, surprising, and powerful.
As for big-screen spectacles, give me “Gladiator” and Peter Jackson’s “King Kong) any day. I’ve seen them both several times!
For suspense, “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” and an Australian film, “The Square,” give me the shivers.
And I should mention that “All the President’s Men” is in my top 20: a crucial time in our nation’s history, played out by some of our finest actors.
If you had a book club, what would it be reading and why?
I’m at work on a screenplay. I’d probably get the most out of discussing and dissecting the novels or short stories certain movies were based upon – to see how the original work was interpreted and translated for the screen. I would read Annie Proulx’s short story “Brokeback Mountain,” the book “The Revenant,” and Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood,” for starters, and read the correlating screenplay for each at the same time.
What are three “Good to Know” facts about you that no one knows?
I’ve been working on my fixed-wing pilot’s license. I enjoy regular target practice when I’m in Texas. My favorite instrument to write songs on is an electric ukulele.
Do you have any upcoming projects that we haven’t mentioned?
Most exciting to me is the upcoming release of my LP “Kiss Make Better” (April 2018), produced by Nashville’s platinum-selling Steve Freeman, to be followed by a European tour. It’ll be a terrific collection of songs in a style I’ve coined electronic Americana. I’ll be shooting a music video for the hip-hop-influenced title track in LA in January, which will be energetic and fun!
I’m also launching a podcast in March, “Voice of a Muse,” which I’m developing and scripting now — a fun, thought-provoking, sexy, and occasionally controversial exploration of the innumerable aspects of creativity.
I’m about to get to work narrating Sue Monk Kidd’s latest book, “Dance of the Dissident Daughter: My Journey from Christianity to the Sacred Feminine”; followed by a collection of sharp and elegant essays on faith, values and history by Pulitzer-Prize and National Book-Award-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson. Both should be wonderful contributions to the culture.
On a lighter note, an audiobook I just finished narrating titled “Unf*ckology” by humorous advice columnist Amy Alkon will be published in January. And I’m excited about narrating a documentary about leopards next month for a media company in South Africa, which will air on the Smithsonian channel. They are such beautiful animals!
Complete this sentence, if I had an opportunity to do anything in 2018 I want to do ___________.
I’ve had a terrible hankering to visit Tasmania, and as a recording artist and songwriter/performer, I understand there are some fun clubs there I would enjoy playing. Once there, it would seem to make sense to travel through the South Seas, writing as I go. A more ambitious goal would be to get on the road opening up for a musical act that has the perfect audience for me, and travel all over the world — not just Tasmania!
I would also land one of those really fun character voice gigs for an animated feature, and give it my all. I do a great evil, yet ravishing, sexy queen!
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