Does It Her Way
by Cathy Chestnut
Its hard to predict whether locals who grew up with Carolyn Hudson will be surprisedor notto find out that the spirited go-getter is releasing her debut album, Living in My Skin.
The 1985 Fort Myers High School graduate has long been known for her enviable amounts of energy, smarts, wit and creativity. Now based in New York City, Hudson, 36, awoke one morning four years ago and said to herself, I can write and I can carry tune. That day, I signed up for a workshop in SoHo.
After honing her singing voice, Hudson performed as the lead singer of a band before going solo, playing Manhattan venues such as The Canal Room, Tribeca Blues, The Village Underground and The Cutting Room.
From conceptualization to writing, arranging, financing and producing through her own Box of Bees Media, she invested the last year on Living in My Skin, birthed with an impressive pool of talented musicians: producer Doug Maxwell (Joan Osborne, Judy Collins); guitarist Jon Herington (Bette Midler, Steely Dan); guitarist Larry Saltzman (Simon & Garfunkel); drummer Frank Pagano (Laura Nyro); and backing vocalists such as Janice Pendarvis (Sting).
Hudson describes her music as Sensual, jazzy pop with an edge. If I had to be forced to compare myself to an artist, it would be k.d. lang meets Madonna meets Sarah McLachlan.
Hudson returns to Fort Myers for a private CD launch party September 30 at The Veranda, followed by a performance at Spirits of Bacchus in downtown Fort Myers on Friday night, October 1.
How do you feel about returning to FM for this event?
Carolyn Hudson: I am over the moon about it. Thrilled.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project?
Doing it all myself. Financing it myself, being the engine for all of it, from working on my voice to finding the right producer. The most difficult part was that I started out being a little naïve and saying, I am going to make a record. But its a major business. At the end of the day, its a product for sale. That was a rude awakening.
Do you see yourself producing another one?
Absolutely. The second record is half written. The writing part of the record is the most blissed-out, magical part for me. Creating something from nothing is my heaven.
What musical artists have inspired you the most and why?
Laura Nyro because she was relentless in her ability to be real. It blows my mind how raw she is. And Madonna because I grew up with her and she was someone who started an empire; she wasnt just a singer and a dancer but a true businesswoman.
What made you decide that performing just wasnt enough? What made you feel that you needed to record?
Im results-oriented. I needed something tangible. I was used to writing poetry since I was 12. I was used to writing something and having it in hand. There was a strong need to hold something in my hand and be able to say I did this.
How do you feel about laying bare your innermost thoughts and emotions for others to critique or scrutinize?
I feel very excited and very fearless. Its a way to connect. At the core, Im a communicator. As far as baring my soul, the album is about me calling off a wedding and high-tailing it from Miami to New York, so theres a lot of heartache. But who cares? Thats life. What do I have to lose?
Why start your own label and self-produce?
The days of these huge record companies ruling the industry are over. With satellite radio and the onset of the internet and MP3s and downloads, I dont have to be with a major label to get my music heard.
Are you one of those people who fear that poetry has become a lost art?
Ill never be one of those people. Its essential.
What compromises have you made in pursut of this dream?
Having the energy to focus on a relationship with a man and using my savings to buy a home as opposed to financing the record. Those are the only sacrifices I can think of. Its changed my life; its saved my life. At the end of the day, I wouldnt say I made a compromise. Its been beautiful.
Since you moved to New York City five years ago, how would you describe living there?
I truly believe I live on another planet. I call it Planet New York.
For more information about Carolyn Hudson and her new release, Living in My Skin,
from the September-October 2004 issue