Carolyn Malachi is one of the most down to earth music artists you’ll meet. Her energy is vibrant, and her positivity seamlessly connects with every person she comes in contact with. It doesn’t hurt that she’s talented either. In 2011 she was Grammy nominated for her amazing single, “Orion.”
Her website, www.carolynmalachi.com is inviting and interactive as a music playlist is made available while you browse around. We found ourselves REFUSING to exit the browser because her music is THAT amazing. If you enjoy the likes of Ledisi, Chrisette Michele, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Sade, she will certainly fit in your playlist.
Girlfriend, she SLAYS.
Make sure to grab a copy of her latest project, GOLD – available directly from her site.
The Our Womanhood crew got the chance to catch up with Carolyn to ask her a few questions about her childhood, the journey to being Grammy nominated, and her projects. We’re happy she took the time out. Her journey is amazing.
Exclusive Interview: Grammy Nominated Singer, Carolyn Malachi
Jasmine: When I saw that your childhood-given nickname was “Sunshine,” (which I love by the way,) I knew that there was something very special about you. Tell me the story on how you garnered the nickname “Sunshine.”
Carolyn: The name came from my aunt. She gave names to my brother, sister, and I.
Mine, “Sunshine,” is to remind me that I have the power to give life to my greatest aspirations. I try to walk in that awareness and keep the light with me.
Jasmine: Your great- grandfather John Malachi was an American jazz pianist who played alongside the likes of Illinois Jacquet, Louis Jordan, Sarah Vaughan, Pearl Bailey, Al Hibber, Dinah Washington, and other great artist of that era. How was music introduced into your life? What was your first memory?
Carolyn: I remember his wide smile. I remember his hands, gigantic hands that picked me up and sat me at a piano, right next to him. I remember pressing the keys with my hands (tiny compared to his) and I remember that if I pressed hard enough, one of those white blocks would actually make a sound. It was fascinating. Maybe that’s when I fell in love with music... Then he was gone. Years passed. I would find my way to pianos anywhere - in churches, in the basement of my high school, in my university’s music department. That’s how I wrote songs - alone, accompanied only by my thoughts and my notebooks.
His music was first introduced to me by my father, then by my great uncle. I saw old VHS footage of him playing and being interviewed at Washington, DC’s famed Howard Theater, well into his senior years, and just before the theater closed its doors semi-permanently. There were those hands again. That voice. I just remember feeling like I was watching an older male version of myself.
There was my kindred spirit speaking to me in language that I understood. It was strange but beautiful. I wondered if he somehow knew I would be watching that tape some 30 years later.
Listening to him talk, I didn’t feel alone anymore.
Jasmine: The “I AM” Campaign. What motivated you to start it?
Carolyn: It’s great to put out music for the world to enjoy. Beyond the intrinsic value of music; I wanted to release a song that also filled a very tangible need - global access to education. The School Fund has been such a great partner in that effort.
We want each student to be able to one day say “I AM a doctor,” “I AM a music engineer,” - whatever they choose to be.
Through strategic partnership with the Carmelita Group, Chegg, and with some help from the U.S. Chamber Business Civic Leadership Center, ONE.org, Huffington Post, and GOOD, we have raised almost 10,000 hours of class time for students in East Africa.
We are now broadening the impact and scale of the “I AM” Campaign. Every time a person buys my upcoming GOLD album, The School Fund will receive an hour of class time which it can give to any student who needs it, in any of the 14 countries they support.
Jasmine: Okay, we are going to switch up lanes. Your present day self—the one you show the world—exudes confidence and beauty. Where there any points during your personal journey of womanhood in which you did not feel confident or beautiful?
Vulnerability used to make me feel ugly - hideous. Then I learned that some of my best work comes from a very vulnerable place.
GOLD is a very vulnerable album. I learned to embrace the vulnerability, to think through it, to even quantify it. Surprisingly, that approach made my will and my spirit stronger. When I ditched the fear of who I was, I got to experience who I am. Knowing, celebrating who I am makes me a woman. I am enjoying the whole woman that I am becoming - vulnerable and strong.
Jasmine: There were things you went through and experiences you had in between leaving Shepard University and being Grammy nominated for your amazing single, “Orion,” in 2011. You don’t just roll out of bed one day and decide to get nominated for a Grammy (although some people tend to think so.) Tell me about the hardest thing (or things) you had to go through during that time.
Carolyn: (Thank you so glad you like the music!) One of the most difficult things I experienced was being away from my family during a time of need. I mean I really needed them, but I was embarrassed to tell them that the life I had tried to build for myself wasn’t working out. Ah, there’s fear of vulnerability rearing its ugly head... Listen, family is everything. Eventually I opened the lines of communication and things started to work out. Now, here we are. God is good and very much right on time.
Jasmine: There are a number of artists who have successfully transitioned into their careers after deciding to leave college. Tell me about that deciding moment you said “go time” to your true passion.
Caorlyn: Well, I was sort of forced into beast mode. My job had disappeared and so did other presumably important things. For a short while, all I had was time. Who said time is the greatest resource? That person was correct. I used all of my newfound free time to create. I joined the Recording Academy to learn about the music industry. What an amazing community of music professionals!
Jasmine: I’ve found that music is “comfort food for the soul.” I tend to have certain artist I listen to, especially when I’m having a rough patch in my life. Who are your go-to artists and why?
Carolyn: While the roster always changes, lately my go-to artists have been Laua Mvula, Thundercat, Kim Burrell, Faces on Film, MeShell Ndegeocello, Jesse Boykin III, and The Kin.
Their work is free and uninhibited.
Jasmine: If there was one word to describe your journey thus far, what would it be?
Jasmine: Where can we find you on the web?
Carolyn: Website: www.carolynmalachi.com
(Interview originally published August 28, 2013)