Carlene Thissen is an American singer-songwriter, and author, born on June 28, 1950, in Andover , northwest New Jersey. Carlene Thissen is now in Naples, Florida, where she dedicates herself to performing, speaking and songwriting, singing and playing piano and guitar at house concerts, clubs, restaurants, festivals and charity events. She also serves the community as part-time Instructor and content developer for a Farm Labor Supervisor Training program at the University of Florida’s Research & Education Center in Immokalee.
Carlene Thissen performed in the 1960s and 70s as a young guitar-playing folk singer in northwest New Jersey, doing songs by Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell and Melanie. She says the best three days of her life were spent at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair in 1969 and she presents a multi-media program today about that experience.
As she explains in her autobiographical song, Back There Again, this Woodstock hippie girl, “…cut her hair and got a career, and lost herself for 30 odd years.” Forgetting her dreams of being a doctor working in ghettos, she became a successful business woman, well known for speeches, articles and books about marketing technology. She ended her corporate career as Vice President for a large market research company in Chicago, started her own independent international consulting company and then moved to Naples, Florida.
Carlene Thissen says a series of God-driven events led her back to her true self through the agricultural community of Immokalee, Florida, where she volunteered as a music teacher for pre-school children and sang in the choir at Our Lady of Guadalupe church. Her love of the farm workers inspired two books: Immokalee's Fields of Hope and Called From Silence: The Father Sanders Novel.
She also has written several songs that were inspired by her work and friendships there (see MUSIC on this website and listen to "Take These Hands," "Mama in Your Heart," "When Papa Goes North," "Our Lady of Guadalupe," and "On the Road Home.").
Carlene still works part-time at the University of Florida in Immokalee, teaching and developing courses to educate the supervisors of farm workers on the laws that keep farm workers safe and in a fair work environment.
She has three more books in progress about Immokalee and music that will no doubt accompany them. The one that is closest to publication will be called Harvest of Dreams, stories of the children of the farm workers who have gotten educations and advanced degrees so they no longer have to work in the fields. The other two are Black Immokalee, the stories of American Black people who lived on the south side on segregated Immokalee; and The Haitian Kids, about 10 young people she has loved and mentored for 21 years.
She graduated with a B.A. in Business Administration from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1982, and an M.A. in Latin American History from Florida International University in Miami in 2005.
Carlene Thissen lives in Naples, Florida.
She is a member of Nashville’s Global Songwriter’s Connection, Women of Substance’ Female Musician Academy, and the Americana Community Member Association.