Paulette Carlson was born October 11, 1952, in Northfield, MN. A talented singer and guitar player, Carlson built a large local following before heading to Nashville. Once in Music City, Carlson found work as a staff writer with the Oak Ridge Boys' Silverline/Goldmine music-publishing syndicate, and wrote songs for Tammy Wynette, among others. In early 1983, she secured a solo recording contract. But despite promising critical praise for her early singles, Carlson was back in Minnesota by 1985.
There she was rediscovered two years later by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band manager Chuck Morris, who promptly built a band around her that included guitarist Jack Daniels, drummer Cactus Moser, and bassist/mandolin player Curtis Stone. As Highway 101, the quartet debuted in 1987 with the Carlson-penned number four country single "The Bed You Made for Me." A self-titled LP was issued that same year, and the release spawned two more successful singles.
In 1988, Carlson and Highway 101 released Highway 101, Vol. 2. The album was essentially a rewrite of their debut, with rollicking country-rock singles the order of the day. Nevertheless, the album was a hit. A year later, Paint the Town arrived. By now, the formula had become a bit tired, and the album didn't do as well on radio. Carlson parted ways with Highway 101 in 1990, embarking once again on a solo career. 1992 saw the release of Love Goes On, which contained the Top 20 smash "I'll Start With You." However, Carlson couldn't capitalize on her success, and in 1995 she rejoined Highway 101 for the band's ten-year reunion. A year later, Reunited appeared. Of its 12 tracks, four were re-recordings of the group's past hits. Latest & Greatest followed in 1997; both were issued through Kardina/Intersound. In 1998, Carlson exited Highway 101 yet again, but her star seemed to fade a bit, and her only credits through 2003 were as a backing vocalist for artists such as Michael Martin Murphey.