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Interview With Carey Colvin

By Damion Wolfe, August 2003


Would you be surprised to know that Carey Colvin is yet another great artist that I've met on my musical journey? Carey is a wonderful troubadoring songwriter who has been gracing the Washington D.C. music scene with her passionate songs and beauty for years. My first gig at a Starbuck's was in Burke, VA doing a round-robin with Carey and Chris Russell in 1997. I was a bit nervous yet Carey's gracious presence, along with that of Mr. Russell, made things very easy-going. From that day on I've always found Carey to be not only a great songwriter but also a wonderful supporter of other songwriters in the region. She hosted a songwriter's night at Luna Park Grille in Arlington for years in addition to having impromtu jams that she and her husband Granger would host at their home.

After much hard work and persistance Carey released her long-awaited CD, "The Distance Walll," in 2001. With roaring quotes that range from The Washington Post to David Crosby, this CD is definitely worth every glowing phrase and more. Catchy songs marked with personal depth and exploration really accentuate Carey's distinctive style. Even before the CD was released I remember singing along to demo versions of songs like "Gulf Of Mexico" and "Refugee" when I was cruising from gig to gig. "The Distance Wall" is also blessed with great supportive musicians like Granger Helvey, Marco Delmar, John Jennings (of Mary Chapin Carpenter), David Alberding and many others. As Dirty Linen Magazine says, "Buyers of The Distance Wall can say they knew her before she knocked Faith Hill off the charts."

In addition to doing all of this great music, Carey has been a full time mom and wife. How does she do it? Carey took time from her busy moving schedule (she and the fam are re-locating to Pensacola, Florida) to answer this question and more. Thanks alot to Carey for being our Profile Artist of the Month! If you want to find out more, please visit WWW.CAREYCOLVIN.COM. Email: sngrtr@aol.com.

Ladies and Gentleman, Mrs. Carey Colvin!

1. Carey, you've been writing songs for a long time. How did growing up in different places effect your output as a songwriter and an artist?

I think it made me more aware of the world and what was going on around me. I write mostly about the human emotion, something I've been conscious of since I was very young. In my case, growing up in a military environment in a time of war caused me to experience quite a wealth of emotion - everything from fear to anger to sadness to joy to excitement. It taught me that there's always hope in the future, something new and exciting around the bend. There's also stuff we'd rather not experience around the bend, but I prefer to dwell on the positive! So, going through all these changes and emotions in my life made me want to vent, and I became a writer.

2. If it's not revealing too many secrets, could you describe for us your songwriting process? Do you have one sure-fire method that works or is there more?

Writing comes to me, I don't come to it. Sometimes I'll try writing with a specific theme or subject in mind, but it doesn't work very often. The last time I did that I wrote a song about my bunny slippers. Usually, I'll hear a phrase or a word said by someone, or it will just pop into my head. At that point, the whole song spills out. I have literally run for pen and paper or the computer to capture it as it comes out. For the most part, I hear the entire melody and structure as I write, including backing vocals, instrumentation, etc. Usually when I write a song, there's not much fluffing left to do - it pretty much comes out whole. Those that don't, I recruit Granger's help on. He's got an amazing ear and will throw in a chord that I didn't think of or reverse a musical passage - he's great fun to write with.

3. Your CD, "The Distance Wall" has gotten a lot of great acclaim from both regional and national figures. Can you describe for us the greatest sense of satisfaction you've had about this CD since it's release?

My greatest satisfaction with this CD is the way the songs evolved during the recording process and the joy of working with so many of my musician friends who wanted to be a part of it. The songs on that CD were written over almost a 20 year period, so it's kind of an anthology for me personally. I was amazed, having never made a CD before, at the reception it got. All the reviews have been amazing, and I actually only have 50 copies left now! I'm also really excited about the new CD, Let It Flow. We're fundraising to finish it, and it's (in my opinion) better than The Distance Wall. I've got some amazing musicians on it - Jeff Pevar, Jon Carroll, Fred Leider, Lisa Taylor, Dana Connor - I can't wait for everyone to hear it!

4. I think it's so amazing that you've been able to pursue your music in addition to being a full time Mom of 4 (?) and wife. How do you do it and what advice what you give to those who are seeking to do the same thing?

You know, we took the two younger kids (10 and 13) on tour with us, and they had such a good time - and they didn't kill each other! It's all in how you live your life and the way you treat your kids. I grew up thinking everyone's dads flew fighter planes upside down for fun, and was kind of shocked to realize at one point that other dads didn't do that - and didn't even wear uniforms! So, to me it was normal. To my kids, their parents being on stage is a normal part of their lives. You do have to balance it, though. We quit playing bars and nightclubs when they were little, because you can't drag in at 3:00 am and get up at 7:00 am to get them ready for school without being cranky to the kids. So, we started doing day time shows and taking them with us. They've been to so many fairs and festivals that sometimes they beg to stay home now! My daughter once told me that watching me pursue my dreams taught her that she could pursue her dreams as well. So, my advice to any of you parents out there is to make your kids a part of it. Just make them feel included. My girls get up and sing with me sometimes, and my oldest son is my roadie from time to time. My youngest son has no interest in music at the moment, he just brings his Game Boy and hangs out while we're on stage. We do volunteer to play at their school festivals. The kids love it, the schools love it, and we love it.

5. You have just moved to Pensacola, Florida. Will you continue to perform? What are your musical plans for the future?

Yes, we're going to get involved in the music scene down here and continue to tour. We had such a blast on our tour this summer, and it's one of the reasons we decided to move. We figured if we can tour from Virginia, we can tour from anywhere. So, Granger was offered a job down here, and we decided to move near the beach. We've always wanted to, and so we jumped on it. It's fun living three miles from the beach :). Until hurricane season, that is...!

THE TEN 1. What was your favorite childhood toy?

My stuffed teddy bear named Susie. She went everywhere with me. She even had her own little blue suitcase that she folded up into. I still have her and her suitcase, but she's a little flatter now - her stuffing mildewed, and she's so worn she can't be restuffed.

2. What are your top 5 album pics?

That's a hard one! Let's see...here's five of my favorites, ones I listened to on the drive down to Florida - but I have so many favorites that this is just how I feel at the moment:

CPR - CPR
Joni Mitchell - For The Roses
Loggins & Messina - On Stage (live album)
CSNY - Deja Vu
En Vogue - Funky Divas

3. Would you ever consider cashing it all in and becoming an exotic belly dancer?

Well, you know, I was offered that chance 20 years ago and turned it down...! Now, well, after a few hundred situps, sure! I love to dance :).

4. What song of yours is your personal fave right now?

Ten Thousand Arrows - I wrote it in about five minutes, and it's on the new CD. But, it holds a close second to Burn, another one of my new ones that's on the new CD.

5. Who was the first boy you ever kissed?

Alva Glen Dickerson - I was five years old, and chased him up a tree (we loved climbing trees, the two of us) trying to kiss him. I caught him, though!

6. If you could have dinner with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be?

Joni Mitchell, hands down. We're both Scorpios and passionate about our art and life in general, so I think we'd have a great time.

7. Some know that you are friends with David Crosby. Do you think David is really an alien who decided he wanted to be a superstar in the form of an alien incarnate, and that perhaps "Wooden Ships" is a song about primitive space-craft?

Hmmmm, now that could be! I haven't seen any signs of anntennae, though. He could be wireless :).

8. One of my favorite songs of yours is "Gulf Of Mexico". Is this where your heart lies and why you're moving back?

Yep! It's funny, I was on the beach the other day (I like saying that!) and was humming that song to myself. I've run into some old friends, too, from my biker days down here, and it's just been like coming home. A little older and a little wiser, but home nonetheless.

9. What show would you most like to perform on: "The Man Show", "David Letterman" "MTV Cribs" or "Oprah"?

Aw, can't I do them all?! I could definitely hold my own on The Man Show, I'd have fun doing top tens with David Letterman, MTV Cribs would like my beach house, and Oprah and I could dish :).

10. Carey what inspires you most?

Living. When you watch what's going on around you, how people react to things, and listen to the human emotion, you can't help but be inspired. I'm a very passionate person, so my passion for all things always inspires me.