It has been wonderful to watch the career progress of Michelle Berting Brett. In the last year or so, she has been on tour starring in the successful show, We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered. Having worked with her before in our early theatre days, I am familiar with Michelle’s voice; she is skilled at producing a dark and rich timbre that, yes, could remind us of the contralto range of Karen Carpenter from the 1970s. But why specifically is Michelle drawn to the Carpenters? She could explore other avenues of singing, but this style, this sound, really seems to click with her. In We’ve Only Just Begun, Michelle and her band recreate the nostalgic sounds of that famous brother-sister duo. And the astrology of it is quite remarkable.
Let’s have a look at Karen Carpenter’s chart first. Karen Carpenter was born on March 2, 1950 at 11:45 am in New Haven, Connecticut. A number of things pop out when first glancing the chart. Uranus right on the Ascendant could suggest frequent interaction with radio and TV; certainly it indicates the potential of someone who is on the pulse of popular fads and trends. The Sun is just 5° from the Midheaven, indicating that this person is likely to experience notoriety. Then there are those opposition across the 2nd and 8th houses, through the signs Leo and Aquarius. The Moon in Leo wants to be acknowledged, appreciated, and valued, but it seems like a constant struggle for approval with the oppositions to Mercury and Jupiter in the public sign of Aquarius. Mercury and Jupiter rule the MC/IC axis, so seeking approval from parents may have been ongoing, too.
There is something intensely private shown in this chart, with a marked depth of feeling, all indicated by the many 8th-house and Pluto influences. Uranus is co-ruler of the 8th and is a rising planet. The Moon, the chart ruler, is closely conjunct Pluto and opposes those planets in the 8th. The Sun opposes Saturn, the other co-ruler of the 8th. Both Jupiter and Neptune, co-rulers of the MC, aspect Pluto. These patterns suggest there was great potential for Karen to be driven by an intense sensitivity to others in many areas of her life. The urge to bring transformation both to others and to herself was probably a strong motivating factor. Yet as we know, sadly, Karen was so determined to “improve” herself that her compulsion became self-destructive.
The importance of her brother, Richard Carpenter, is suggested in Karen’s chart. Saturn is the only traditional planet in an Earth sign, giving us the notion that Richard was someone who could provide form perhaps to an otherwise ungrounded nature. This is a bit of a dichotomy, because, as you’ll see later, Richard’s chart has no Earth! (There is a surprise, however, in the composite chart of the duo.) Saturn rules the 7th in Karen’s chart, so its placement in the 3rd nicely declares that her brother is a business partner.
As ruler of the 3rd House of siblings, Karen’s Mercury conjunct Jupiter suggests that Richard is a source of optimism, inspiration, and vision. Mercury in Aquarius says that Richard is innovative and progressive; he can add elements of freshness and spontaneity into Karen’s life. Jupiter’s role in publishing says that, through Richard, Karen has a means of broadcasting her message to others.
Coming in Part 2: Find out how 1970 was an auspicious year astrologically for the Carpenters. Then later, learn how Michelle’s chart picks up many of the same zodiacal degrees.