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Conversations with Carrie Cunningham

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carrie Cunningham.

Hi Carrie, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I fell in love with music when I received my first clock radio when I was in 2nd grade. I fell asleep every night listening to that thing. I had a very toxic and abusive childhood and music got me through it, with the imagery, with Hall and Oates “Man-eater”, and the stage performance/talent of the TV show “Barbara Mandrel and the Mandrel sisters”. My 6th-grade teacher of all of 6 months encouraged me to join the choir when I moved into JR high the following year. I took her advice and went from doing choir all the way through college to joining the community choir and the Symphony Chorale. I started or joined a lot of bands from country, classic rock, blues, and jazz over the years, and have been going out on the road with my band since 2007. So far I have opened up for over 50 national acts in my career as an artist.

I also went to school for audio production and went into the live sound world back in 2004. I ran sound for some great people!

I had been traveling back and forth to Nashville consistently since 2001, before I finally got a place in 2019. I joined NSAI, where I became the coordinator for the Portland, OR chapter for 8 years. I also started the LA chapter of Songtown and co-started the Women of Songtown.

I just released my 5 album, “Showgirl”, which is a blend of country with other genres. Right now, it’s all about marketing the heck out of it~

I’m also Benefit Auctioneer, mother of 3, wife, and I own a Syberian Husky!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Nothing has ever been a smooth road, lol. But, I’m a fighter. Yeah, I had to step away for a little bit for my own mental health, but 2022 is feeling amazing, especially with the “Showgirl” album. As far as struggles are concerned, There was the ex-husband thing, which we won’t go into, the span of the mid 2000’s when radio wasn’t playing female artists. That also affected some of my gigs as an entertainer. It always pissed me off when I heard “Sorry, but we don’t hire female singers”. I got over it eventually and went for other gigs. Thankfully it is starting to change and a lot more women are getting airplay and streaming also helps. There are many of us talented female artist and writers. I am really grateful for the female artist who kept pushing their voice/opinion out there like Miranda Lambert, Brandy Clark, Martina McBride and Leslie Fram, who started “Change the conversation”

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am mainly a country songwriter and singer, but I truly love all genres! As long as it is a great tune, I don’t care what the genre is. It also helps me when I am being creative. I think that is also why I chose to do “Showgirl” the way I did. All those genres really help make me who I am in my creative space. I also love the stage! I love entertaining! Being on social media is a different story though, It’s a necessary evil, I know, but put me on stage to make people laugh or sing or dance, and I’m there!

Back in 2017, I made the top 10 albums of 2017 for the “Women of Country Music”, alongside artists like Lindsay Ell and Kelsea Ballerini. I was pretty stoked about that. As far as what I’m known for, I would probably say the gal who is constantly learning something new! When I get down on myself, I have people remind me that not only do I touch people with the songs I write, but I can also run sound if I’m not on the stage, or raise money for a benefit as an auctioneer! My grandfather and great grandfather were cattle auctioneers and my love for just helping people, led me in the direction of my ancestors. I guess all of that really sets me apart from my peers.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
Oh geez, the list is long. I hope I don’t forget anyone! (insert award acceptance speech, hee hee!)

NSAI was my first place to learn about the craft of songwriting. All the mentors who were there at the time, like Sheree Spoltore, Trish Matthews, Debi Cochran, Dave Petrelli, and Brent Baxter are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. I still work with Sheree (Global Songwriters Connection) and Brent (Songwritingpro) with their businesses they have started up. They are both great businesses.

I have also learned a lot from Amanda Colleen Williams at “Songpreneurs”. She really helped me with setting goals, analyze songs and structure in my business.

Clay Mills and Marty Dodson, the owners of “Songtown”. Their lessons help push me into being a better writer.

There is also Sherrill Blackman. He is a plugger/publisher here in Nashville who has turned into one of my truest longtime friend/mentors in the business. He is a no bullshitter guy who has always been very truthful with me. I have laughed and vented about everything music, and he still accepts me as a great creative artist and writer. He has never made me feel like I shouldn’t be doing this and offers great advice.

Lastly, Doak Turner. He is a songwriter who started up this thing called 3rd Sunday, I believe back in 2006??? Every third Sunday, he would invite songwriters and artists over and we would have a potluck, network, and play songs. It was the best way to get to know new writers and or artists, local and nationally. I met Frankie Ballard there before he had a record deal. I met some amazing people because of Doak. Everybody always looked forward to it.

His 3rd Sunday was probably the best thing that could have happened to the songwriting community in Nashville. I really want to start it back up….

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  1. Don Cox

    February 2, 2022 at 11:46 pm

    My wife and I love Carrie and her talent. She was our “go to” musician for dance night and listening to her. We miss her in Portland, but still enjoy her music through her CD’s etc. Go, Carrie, go!

  2. Jim Callahan

    February 6, 2022 at 11:51 pm

    Carrie is the hardest working music girl in Nashville! I met her the night before “The First Sunday” at Doak’s place. I’ve had the pleasure of performing beside her at many Songwriter Rounds, as well as writing with her. I also know her and her family … true friends!

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