There used to be a time where musicians were marketed in one genre and that was it. The idea of crossing over style lines as absurd and artists just did not do that – especially when it came to Country music. Not until Garth Brooks did a Country artist’s Southern ways hit the mainstream pop charts. Thanks to him, and later Shania and Faith, we have Carrie Underwood, Sam Hunt, and Eileen Carey. The latter is an award-winning songstress that deals in Country, pop, and rock – and with that, she has music that hits all the right spots in a year when it’s needed most. We talked to Eileen Carey about the touching tunes, musicians being vocal about their rights, and more in this back and forth…
Kendra: You’ve released a couple of really introspective singles this year. Do you feel like everything that has transpired this year will lead more artists towards this type of writing? More substance, fewer bells, and whistles for the sake of a hit?
Eileen Carey: Yes, I do think substance in Country and Pop music is growing, examples being of course the recent releases by Sheryl Crow, The Chicks, and Eric Church. But, I also think that different songs come at different times in a singer-songwriter’s career. I think the pandemic has pulled the covers on so many things in our society now. I am a storyteller and my music is about the things and situations that people live through. People in their everyday lives. So current events are only a part of my focus. The core principle in my music is that of options. I try to suggest different ways of looking at a situation.
Kendra: We’ll start with “Keep Your Love to Yourself.” A song I desperately needed to hear at the moment, thank you for that. For you, was this inspired by a universal feeling, or was this a personal anecdote pulled from experience?
Eileen Carey: I am hearing that said a great deal about this release. The music video hit 100,000 views in 23 days. It is very simple, a lyric video in intent, but it seems to resonate with so many people. In my case, a “universal feeling” describes it well. The song describes a certain situation but it can apply to so many possible difficult life situations. Men, women, parents, children, work, and friends, in all relationships a person should see that they do not have to put up with a bad relationship.
Kendra: Then there is “Meet Me Halfway,” a song everyone in the US should have on repeat. This country is as the kids would say, a hot mess. Do you feel like the 2020 election is the
make or break point for America?
Eileen Carey: I agree with the kids but hope future generations will turn it around. “Meet Me Halfway” is more of a cultural versus political statement. Having said that, I am deeply concerned about what is going on and the coming elections in November. “Meet Me Halfway” is about a character flaw so many of us have. So engrossed in ourselves that we cannot see what is in front of us. The cellphone at the crosswalk image comes from an actual occurrence that I witnessed. The song speaks for itself.
Kendra: With that, musicians have always been a bit political. I mean, just look at the music to come from the ‘60s and ‘70s during Vietnam. However, there are those out there who say “stay in your lane” when it comes to musicians, artists, even athletes speaking up. Why do you think those types of people have such disdain towards our entertainers having a voice?
Eileen Carey: I have strong opinions! Hey, we artists pay taxes, so you bet we should have a say! I support all people speaking their minds, but also think artists should be aware that with celebrity comes responsibility. My message as an artist is all about being positive, live balanced. The current circumstances we find ourselves in will take a spiritual awakening in this country to fix, and not a partisan solution. I know women will play a key role in this election though!
Kendra: You’ve got a great platform and it’s only getting greater as you took home some big honors this year at the 2020 New Music Awards. How did it feel to win alongside the likes of Billie Eilish and the Jonas Brothers?
Eileen Carey: Incredible. It is a high bar for me to have reached, but it also feels like a challenge. You want to be able to continue to create music that people relate to. There is no denying that peer validation is wonderful though.
Kendra: You’re a country girl but haven’t been shy about crossing the line into the country-pop realm. Do you think it’s easier for artists today to crossover than it was say 10, 20 years ago?
Eileen Carey: I was born and raised in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio on pop music, eighties music, Pretenders, Beatles with a few country influences like Patsy Cline. It has been a full circle for me. Country came to me off two radio successes I had back in the early years in my career when a Country Music radio promoter came to me about a song making some noise on Adult Contemporary stations.
He told me he could make it work on Country radio and launched me in that genre. And I have won a couple of crossover awards in recent years, which I believe my Country-Pop spending the last three years sharing stages with classic Rock acts like Jefferson Starship, Martha Davis and The Motels, Albert Lee and Ambrosia; classic Pop acts like Wilson Phillips, Peter Noone, Johnny Rivers, Nelson, and many others, including my friend Rita Coolidge, has a lot to do with those awards.
It is so easy to find music now because the vast distribution of it on and in so many media platforms has introduced people to lots of different artists and musical ideas creating all kinds of hybrids that artists are harder to pigeon-hole these days. I think it is especially true when it comes to variations in genres like Country to Country-Pop. I feel like my last three single releases were more pop than even Country-Pop. I think that is why “Meet Me Halfway” and “Finally” both topped the Adult Contemporary charts as well as the Country charts, and both went top 5 in the Top 40 Contemporary Hit Radio charts.
Kendra: This year has already influenced you so much, but how do you feel 2020 has shaped your creativity and drive moving forward?
Eileen Carey: 2020 has been, as everyone knows, a real rollercoaster ride. Because of the pandemic, I have not been able to get back to Nashville to finish my album and after sharing the stage in January and February with Jefferson Starship and Ambrosia, I have seen the live music scene cancel worldwide. Having said that I did release another single as mentioned earlier (“Keep Your Love To Yourself”), and a lyric video that reached 100,000 views faster than any of my others, again as I have mentioned earlier. Ultimately, it made me aware of the many avenues that an artist can access to continue to create and contribute.
Kendra: Usually, this is where I ask people what they have planned in the coming months but with the world in a strange place right now, plans aren’t as concrete as they typically are. You can go ahead and let us know what you have tentatively planned…
Eileen Carey: I believe in that old saying that “when life gives you lemons make lemonade.” I have been busy writing new material, recording live for virtual delivery, have been writing a personal career commentary column for Country Music News International out of Germany, and plan to continue so; and I believe I have posted some of my best The Music Mom posts this past year. I am still booked at the Sync Summit in Los Angeles on December 2, 2020, and I have an open invitation to weigh in on some topics for Women Connect4Good Inc. Women in the workplace issues, for me most likely the workplace for a female lead singer and artist among the male musicians. But that is not set in stone.