Claudia Carawan is more than just a beautiful voice. She has graciously taken the time to sit down with us and tell a little bit about her work.
Hello Claudia. You say you've always wanted to make music. How did you get started?
When I was a little girl I was always singing and making up songs. The big “touch-stone” event in my life was finding my brother’s old Silvertone guitar in the basement and learning to play it. At age 13 I made the discovery that if I could play three chords, I could play hundreds of songs! (That was HUGE) During my teen years I spent countless hours in my bedroom listening to recordings of great singers and trying to copy them. In college I studied Music (with an emphasis on voice performance). It was then that I got an offer to sing in a “dance band”. The rest is history! heh! heh! heh!
And during this history, who have been your role models?
There are so many: Most of my heroes are people that have demonstrated "Fearlessness" Rosa Parks or Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Many of the older ladies at my church (UCCBA) are role models to me because they have demonstrated how to age in a "fearless" and spunky way.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, you work with at-risk teenagers. Can you tell us about that program?
With pleasure... For approx 10 years I have taught music (and metaphysics) to “at risk teens” in a residential setting UMFS (a family services agency sponsored by the Methodist Church.) The agency I work for used to be an orphanage and now we serve families & children in need. All my students have therapeutic issues and learning challenges. Most of them do not have a stable family life and all have experienced trauma (sexual abuse/physical violence) in their past. The students live on campus and work on their therapy with the goal of returning to their foster families and to public schools. I have learned that music is so much more than a bunch of tra-la-la for these children. Music is about goal setting, discipline, facing obstacles, building confidence, hearing applause and giving and receiving love. Music also helps them to "share their stories" and so it is very healing for them. It is an honor to mentor and teach them.
If you enter my classroom on any given day you would hear a lesson about a famous musician (Beethoven, Bob Marley, Billie Holiday) who overcame obstacles. You would also observe teenagers recording their original compositions in GarageBand, students rapping and drumming, students playing guitars & keyboards and perhaps one student napping on the floor. (To be honest... there is always one napper!)
Having taught these kids goal setting skills, what goals have you set for yourself?
I want to continue creating music that matters. There will be more CDs, videos, tours and speaking engagements. I would like to publish a book about my experiences with my students. Keep creating... keep learning... keep pushing myself.
What is the creative process like for you?
It is magical and mysterious (like the Creator). It is exalting and humbling at the same time... it is easy and difficult--full of paradox!
How do you deal with the dificulty of writer's block?
When I am writing... the melody and harmonic progression comes quickly and easily. Then I have to contemplate what this song is about. Once I get clear about this... many lyrical ideas and catch phrases come to me. There usually are a few missing pieces... leaving the song incomplete. My process for dealing with this is simple... Meditation... and make affirmative statements like "This song is coming together perfectly"! This rarely fails.
When you're facing other setbacks, or long hours and weariness sets in, what do you do to keep yourself motivated?
Prayer works! Sometimes I have to write in my journal and give myself a pep talk. One of my new songs Keep My Faith (originated from a journal entry and it addresses my shadow/pain body/whatever you wanna call it.) If I feel depressed (which doesn't happen to much these days) I allow myself to feel it and I am very gentle with myself. It always passes. Thank God.
What accomplishment do you thank God most for?
I am very proud of this new CD Fearless --I'm not just trying to market here... but I always thought of myself as computer illiterate so I am proud that I was able to create so much of this CD at home in my living room. I learned how to use a Mac, I researched and purchased all the gear, I learned Protools recording software & how to use midi. Whenever I hit a barrier (and there were a few) I found a way to crash through it. I learned that I was indeed FEARLESS.
How do you balance all of this work with your role as a mother and wife?
My family is very supportive. I try not to miss soccer games (etc) but I have missed a few. I try to keep my travels & gigs within reason so I can be present for important family events--and dinner.
What about your fans? How do they keep you going?
My fans have been so supportive, it is hard to single out one story...but this touched me. On a return visit to a Unity church a woman approached me after the service. She said she had heard me present a "sermon in song" on Courage about a year earlier. She was inspired by my music and message and she bought my CD. About a week later she lost her job. She said that every morning when she headed off to Manpower (a temporary work placement agency) she took my music with her. She said she also took "me" with her to job interviews!! To hear feedback like this is truly a gift and a reminder that what I am doing is valuable.
Thank you again, Claudia, for being an inspiration and for taking the time to talk with us.
Thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity!