When she was in high school Mare Winningham was convinced she would become a song-writer singing folk songs. “I thought that would be my livelihood,” she shares. “I was writing songs and playing in little clubs in the 1970s.”

Mare Winningham makes her Café Carlyle debut on October 29th.

Courtesy Café Carlyle

She was always drawn to folk music. “Since I was a teenager, my favorite live performances are when a singer/songwriter pairs it down to just them and their guitar or them and the piano,” she says. “I’m just crazy for a folk show.”

Even in the 1980s when popular music became less folksy, Winningham stayed true to her folk music passion. “I never changed and kept digging in with folk,” explains the actress. “The music got electronic and I stayed the girl with the guitar.”

Winningham’s career trajectory took a bit pivot before she graduated from Chatsworth High School in Los Angeles. She got noticed by an agent while playing Maria in her school’s production of The Sound of Music and was cast in the 1978 TV movie Special Olympics as one of Charles During’s daughters. By 1980 she won an Emmy playing a rebellious teenager in Amber Waves. Now an Academy Award, Tony and Golden Globe nominated actress, Winningham’s four decade career has continued to thrive.

This February Winningham returns to Broadway in the dazzling musical Girl From The North Country, featuring the songs of Bob Dylan. Written and directed by Conor McPherson, Winningham will reprise her role from the sold-out production at The Public Theater. (Experiencing her and the cast sing “Like A Rolling Stone” is a revelation.) “The show encompasses everything I dreamed or hoped for: a great part in a brilliant play in a folk rock realm, with a genius writer/director and music from the greatest musician and songwriter. And it means so much for me to sing with others,” says Winningham. “Girl from the North Country is all my jam.”

Winningham’s folk roots have never left her. She has released four albums of original songs, including a Jewish country folk (or Jewgrass) record. She collaborated with fiddle and mandolin legend Tim Crouch, who became her mentor. (Crouch has played with countless artists including Johnny and June Carter Cash, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Tanya Tucker, Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney.) On tour, she has opened for several musicians like The Roches, Richard Thompson and Marshall Crenshaw. “I’m a pretty sturdy opening act,” she says.

From October 29 to November 2 Winningham makes her debut at the intimate and glamorous supper club Café Carlyle. She joins the ranks of Bobby Short, Elaine Stritch and Judy Collins who have played the historic venue. Winningham will be performing with Crouch and his brother, renowned bassist Dennis Crouch. “This gives me an opportunity to do material that has inspired me for since I was young,” she says. “It’s the perfect venue for this show. It’s very quiet and everybody is tuned in. Also for Winningham who doesn’t perform in many concerts these days, her Café Carlyle residency offers an extra special opportunity. “I hardly ever play anything but living rooms and this is the most beautiful living room in New York.”

Winningham hopes that people come away from her Café Carlyle shows with the same feeling she has when she attends an intimate show. “It’s just the singer and the songwriter and they are singing to me, letting me into their soul. And I want to do that,” she says. “I want people to feel those emotions that I feel when I’m with a singer who lets me into their soul.”