“It’s been a very difficult year and one where I just kept my one foot in front of the other,” says Lynda Carter. Losing her husband of nearly 40 years, Robert Altman, in February of 2021, the year has been one filled with getting to know herself again, and her next steps. To find some healing and work through her grief, Carter returned to songwriting, penning the heartfelt ballad “Human and Divine.”
An anthem of continuance and renewal, centered around the love Carter had with Altman, her loss, and finding herself again—I fell just like a Stone / From heaven to the fire below / Into your arms / You held me out of Time / Showed me paradise / An island in the storm—“Human and Divine” is the ultimate celebration of life, recuperation, and retrieving inspiration again.
“It’s trying to define love,” shares Carter of the song. “If someone asked you to explain what it was, what would be the groups of words that you use to convey it. When you’ve lost someone, it takes on a whole new meaning because it’s all you have left when it’s all said and done.”
Once written, “Human and Divine” was pieced together with violin and other instrumentation and vocals, remotely during the pandemic. “It was a real labor of love,” shares Carter, who says the song really came together in its production. “It’s like a movie,” says Carter. “You start writing it and fixing it, and you have your principal photographer, and then you move into post-production, and it may be a way before it comes out. So it’s still a new movie. It’s still a new song, but it takes a while for it to become what it is.”
Carter, now 70, rose to fame as Wonder Woman on 1970s TV series, and released her first album of music, Portrait, in 1970, while continuing to act—even getting crowned Miss World in 1972. Returning to music more than 30 years later, Carter released her second album, At Last, a collection of jazz covers by Sam Cooke, James Taylor in 2009.
“It’s so hit or miss where something will land, whether it’s a movie, or a TV series, or a song, or an album,” says Carter. “We’re there doing our damnedest to produce something that someone wants to listen to, or wants to watch, and that’s the magic of it. You hope they do, but you’re just doing it for the love of the music.”
Recently starring in the second installment of the Wonder Woman film, 1984, as Asteria, another “daughter of the gods,” Carter will return to the role in the upcoming Wonder Woman 3. As she was working on the film, and returning to the franchise after nearly 50 years, the song also began to shift in meaning, embracing more of the empowerment of the women who inspire her.
“It started out being in a group of lyrics that was about finding love, and while I was on my way flying over to do this part in Wonder Woman, I was thinking about really expanding this song into that idea,” says Carter. “It’s also about my husband and I, that I have was lucky enough to have this love.”
Thinking of the women that inspire her most, Carter says womankind owes the most gratitude to The Suffragists and is exploring ways to tell the stories of women behind the decades-long movement to pass the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in 1920.
“We must not forget that in order to pass the 19th Amendment, tens of thousands of men had to vote, because women didn’t have the right to vote,” says Carter. “So in order for it to pass, men had to vote in favor of it. I want to know the stories of all the suffragists, and the anti-suffragists of the time, and what their households were like. Then there was a whole other coalition of the black suffragists. It was quite a fight.”
In a time when women weren’t even allowed to travel alone, the suffragists traveled by train making their way out west, often walking into “unspeakable” establishments like saloons, drumming up votes and convincing men to vote for women.
“There are so many women that I admire, but we walk upon the shoulders of all those women,” says Carter. “They were the bones behind the thrones. We truly are the mothers of all mankind. We [women] have a great mystique… and we should keep it going.”
Constantly inspired by strong women, Carter says her daughter Jessica Altman, who is an actress and singer and was featured on Carter’s 2018 album Red, Rock N’ Blues, motivates her to continue on with music.
“My daughter is a developing singer-songwriter, and she inspired me to write more,” shares Carter. “She inspires me to get up and make music again.”
Working on new music, Carter is entering a new part of her life, one she’s admits she’s still trying to figure out. Grief is an uphill battle, but one leading her to something fulfilling, and to more lyrics, which she says aren’t all sorrowful. “I hate being so prolific in this desire to write, but grief can be a big deep hole,” says Carter. “I am doing some really fun songs and some really deep songs as well. I’m also trying to find my voice in some of the humor, because I think I’m a really funny person, too. There are endless amounts of material that can enter into the bones of people. We use music to mark our lives.”
Still expanding as a songwriter, Carter says her stories, however humorous or profound, are rooted in experience. “I feel that I’ve improved as a writer,” she says. “I’m trying to expand my writing ability to encompass more. It always seems to be in the manner of a story, even if it’s a silly story, there’s some kind of message—joyous, silly extravagant, big ballad—and there’s something experiential.”
As a writer, every once in a awhile you’ve written something truly special. For Carter, it’s “Human and Divine.”
“I’m still just trying to gather up who I am,” she shares. “You have all your plans for you future with someone, and I thought I had it.”
She hopes her journey can empower others in their personal hardships. “This should give people encouragement, where I am right now, and that I’m writing better than ever,” says Carter. “The music I’m turning out is better, and it’s a different period of my life.”
Remembering the original Wonder Women dolls that came out in the 1970s, and the explosion of that entire franchise, now 80 years since Wonder Woman first debuted with DC Comics in 1931, Carter is still so proud of her beginnings and the future.
“My writing can be in any genre,” says Carter. “I am not wed to any genre. I’ve got plenty of dolls of myself that are in a box, but I’ve never been boxed up, and I don’t intend to be now.”
Photos courtesy DPG Worldwide