October 11

Carissa Lawrence: What It’s Like To Be The One With The Mic

Carissa Lawrence is an accomplished jazz singer and Renaissance Woman. The Renaissance Woman was fortunate enough to sit down with Carissa and find out what it’s like to be a the one with the mic.

Do you have any formal training?

I got my formal training through participating in chorus or choir, starting in middle school.

I have never taken any private voice or instrumental lessons.

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At what age did you realize you were talented? Can you describe that moment?

I remember realizing that I had a talent that not everyone has when I was in first grade. The details are a bit hazy, but there was some sort of assembly that was running late. My teacher, who was also a family friend, asked my Mom if we would be willing to sing a song to buffer the delay, and my Mom agreed.

I remember being terrified, but after we finished and I heard the applause, that’s when I knew that what I did was something special.

 What does singing do for you?

What doesn’t singing do for me?! Lol. Singing gives me a platform, a way to be heard and to connect with people who I may not have connected with otherwise. I feel very strongly about the idea that music reaches people in a unique way. Singing is my refuge. When I’m in a weird mood or having a bad day, I can sing to myself and feel noticeably better every time. Sometimes I don’t even know that I’m humming or singing until someone comments on it! Singing does so much for me.

It calms me down, it pumps me up, it centers me.

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Can you tell us about your favorite gig?

My favorite gig so far was performing with The Swamp Cats at The Jam for a joint birthday party for Blake and Chris. It was invite only, so there were only musicians, friends, and generally awesome people. It was such a relaxed atmosphere, it allowed me to give what I felt was one of my best performances ever.

During that show, something clicked in my head and said, “Girl, you got this. You are unstoppable.”

Prior to that show, I would struggle with pre-show nerves and jitters. Since that performance, I rarely feel nervous or worried about gigs.

Can you tell us about your worst gig?

The worst gig I had was an attempt to play at some sort of fraternity/sorority mixer event in a barn. I was skeptical about the situation going into it, just knowing that my band played a lot of older music, and that the audience was probably going to be looking for a more contemporary, pop sound. I was correct. During our first song, I literally had people standing in front of me saying “Next,” and motioning for us to cut the song short. We got through about another half of a song before we gave up and just let one of the fraternity members plug his iPhone into the PA system.

The crowd was much happier, and I felt like a failure.

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What is your musical style?

My musical style I think is a mixture of soul, jazz, and funk.

I love singing sultry slow songs, but I also love singing songs that have some attitude.

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Do you ever think you would change your musical style?

I can’t say that I’d ever stop singing soul or funk, but I’m definitely up for singing different styles of music. I just love music so much. I’ve been dabbling around with reggae a little more recently, and also doing some hip hop, which I was too afraid to try before.

I could someday see myself delving into an indie/acoustic style at some point.

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What inspires you?

I get inspiration from other artists who just go for it.

My favorite artists or songs are ones where I can feel that this is a product of something honest; a thought, a feeling, an idea, an experience. I get inspiration from my life, and the lives of those around me as well.

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 Do you write music or lyrics?

I write lyrics and some simple songs on my guitar. I’ve been writing songs for about 8 years now, but have only felt comfortable enough sharing them with others for the past year. It’s still a work in progress. Most of the time I write a song, it’s to get something very personal out into the open.

I’m reluctant to put that type of vulnerability on display, but I probably shouldn’t be.

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If you had to choose a different talent, what would it be?

If I wasn’t able to sing, I would love to be a dancer.

I’ve always admired that form of artistry, but I’m not as coordinated as you’d think I am haha. I can do basic steps to counts, but that’s about it. I’d love to really know how to do like contemporary dance, or break dancing or something like that.