Carlene Thissen is a singer, songwriter and author 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. Until recently, she also served the community as Coordinator of a Farm Labor Supervisor Training program at the University of Florida’s Research & Education Center in Immokalee.
Carlene 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, became an independent international consultant and then moved to Naples, Florida.
Carlene 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: Fields of Hope and Called From Silence: The Father Sanders Novel.
She graduated with a B.A. in Business Administration from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1982, and with an M.A. in Latin American History from Florida International University in Miami in 2005.
She lives in Naples, Florida with her husband, Barry Kotek and their dog, Annie, "the friendliest dog in the world."
Carlene is a member of Nashville’s Global Songwriter’s Connection, Women of Substance’ Female Musician Academy and the Americana Community Member Association. She visits Nashville several times a year to network, perform and write.