I am fortunate to have know Carolyn for quite some time as a great singer/songwriter from Salmon Arm, BC. In 2005, I was able to hire Carolyn to be one of four writers to compose the centennial song for Kelowna. It was a pleasure to work with her. She took time off from her music to raise a family and has recently returned to music with the release of a new CD, Where Birds Sing. I asked Carolyn to be part of my musician features and she graciously agreed.
1. You’re quite a spiritual writer using your music and words to heal and uplift but you have a wicked sense of humour. How do you balance that when you write?
I don’t know that I fully understand my writing process yet. I just go with what I think may be funny and hope that my audience would find the songs humorous as well. Then there’s always the more serious or heartfelt songs that I love to write…I think it’s just different sides of my personality that need to be expressed or some other energies along with the muse that want to be channelled!
2. Do you criticize yourself? How do you get past that?
I’ve always criticized myself and still do but I’m into self help and inspirational books and that has always helped me to look inward and move forward. Having loving people around me helps as well.
3. Do you ever catch yourself setting limitations on your music?
Many times. It could be I don’t know how to play that instrument well enough or I don’t know enough about that social issue to write about it or what perspective to take. I haven’t learned enough about the business side of music to pursue that venture… the list is long. But it doesn’t stop me from plugging away and doing what I love!
4. You are a very private person yet still a performer. How do you balance that?
Who I am on stage is really who I am in my personal life. But I like to keep my family life private out of respect for them and because I don’t believe one has to share everything with the public. I’m as much an introvert and homebody as I am an extrovert who likes social gatherings from time to time.
5. Who are your mentors and role models, if any?
In my world of music, my favorite vocalist was the late Eva Cassidy – she could sing anything. Here in Canada, writers like Roy Forbes and Bill Henderson have been a huge influence in my writing as I participated in many of their songwriting workshops. I’ve always been a huge fan of Elton John and I love Nanci Griffith and Canada’s, Katherine Wheatley and the great creator and songwriter, Mr. Fred Penner, to name a few.
6. What was your “aha” moment?
Lots of “aha” moments – some too long to tell here, Jane!
7. This is not how you make your living, but you still do it. Why?
Because music is my living, it’s what I make – it’s my life work, it’s a part of who I am whether I make money at it or not. However, I would love to be able to support my family with my music. I’m fortunate to have a partner who is out there slugging away, making a living for our family so I can be home with our kids and creating music.
8. You’re a mother of two small boys and still find the time to do music. How do you do that?
Writing is sporadic but it’s woven throughout my day. Needless to say when I’m working on a song, certain household chores take a back seat. Once my youngest child is in school full time I’ll have more of a set schedule to sit down and write consistently. Performing is usually at night so I just schedule it and I’m fortunate to have a supportive husband that takes care of the kids.
9. What is the importance of family to you?
My family is everything to me. They are my safe place and being an older parent I’ve had the opportunity to learn from friends who have adult children now. It’s really important for me to be home with my kids while they’re young. It’s a decision my husband and I made before having children and we certainly don’t regret it. Even when times are tough, I look around and see how great we have it here.
10. You’re a very accomplished songwriter. Can you tell us a little bit about how you write? Rituals, favourite pen or chair, room in the house?
Paper piles everywhere, whatever pen works, being alone in the house helps! I’ve learned to adapt to lots of noise but I usually go into my bedroom and shut the door when I’ve got something brewing. I have my H2 recorder handy because usually the melody and lyrics arrive suddenly and I’ve got to write them down or record the tune or I’ve lost it.
13. Could you describe your perfect day?
The kids are playing nicely, my husband’s busy with work and I’m out on the back porch with a coffee and my guitar writing my arse off! Can I say that?! Now if I let my imagination run wild…my perfect day would also be sitting on that back porch contemplating the huge concert I had performed the night before – and after the show, that one person who comes up to me and says, “that song made me cry and the other song made me laugh.” Isn’t that what it’s all about? For me, it’s creating and sharing my music that moves people in some way.
“ The individual passes, living his life and the things he touches receive his kind of impress, and they afterwards bear the trace of his passing. They give evidence of the quality of his growth.” – Robert Henri from the “Art Spirit”