A hotbed of artistic culture, Pasadena is home to a thriving music and entertainment ecosystem. As the world begins to reopen in the wake of the pandemic, a new name has taken to the city’s famed stages: Eileen Carey.
Hailing from Cleveland, Carey has loved music for as long as she could remember. She first worked in the hotel industry, but decided to pursue her true passion for music when she transferred to LA.
With the help of her vocal teacher and co-writer Marta Woodhull, producer John Philip Shenale and country radio promoter Gene Kennedy, Carey began producing music and kickstarted life as a singer-songwriter in LA.
“Everything just started to fall into place,” Carey described. “It’s been quite a journey, but a fun journey, learning different parts of the business. I’m always tuning the craft, always working with different co-writers and they make me expand my creativity.”
Carey settled down in Alhambra in the late 1980s and has lived in Altadena and Pasadena as well. Today, she works with co-writers Kathryn Grimm, Lily Wilson and producer Travis Allen to bring her uplifting blend of pop, rock and California country to over 80 venues across the country, from the Sunset Strip’s Whisky a Go Go to the iconic honky-tonks of Nashville.
“I just love all types of music,” Carey said. “And if I hear something from one song or another song I say, ‘Oh, can we mix this.’ So, I’m always looking for that.”
Throughout the years, Carey has amassed an impressive collection of awards and accolades, including the Los Angeles Music Awards 2017 Live Country Music Performer, 2016 Female Country Artist and the 2018 New Music Weekly Country Breakthrough Artist of the Year.
She was also recently nominated for AC Female Artist of the Year, AC Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Country Breakthrough Artist of the Year and Crossover Artist of the Year alongside the likes of Adele and Dua Lipa.
“To get nominated is an honor,” Carey said. “It’s really all about the fans. They keep me humble, and they keep me on track knowing that I’m doing the correct thing and that they’re enjoying it.”
Before the pandemic, Carey played throughout Pasadena, including venues like the Rose. And when live performances disappeared as COVID-19 cases increased, Carey was inspired by the subsequent emotional highs and lows.
“It’s been pretty chaotic for the last couple years,” Carey said. “I always try to find the positive, you know… I was just listening to music, and music inspires everybody no matter what, whether it’s sad or happy, it helps people adjust in their life. I think that’s what it was. I was just listening to a song and something from that song or that voice inspired me.”
Her newest single, “Dreaming with Me,” serves as a tribute to the positivity and inspiration that can arise from admiring the work of others and a reminder to her fans that anyone can make a meaningful impact on someone else’s life.
She’ll perform the song when she opens for the Tom Petty tribute act So Petty on Friday, June 10, at The Canyon Santa Clarita.
“This song’s really about one person that is doing something and they inspire you, then you get inspired and somebody else gets inspired by you,” Carey explained. “It travels down the line because everybody has a dream, no one matter what they want to do in life. Each one of us can inspire someone so they can go on to be successful and do what they love to do. That’s what it’s all about.
“I write the way the writers write in Nashville. It’s a story, it’s all about the story and all about the melodies…There’s a format in Nashville that’s a simple format, simple words that everybody can relate to.”
Through her writing, Carey hopes to reach a wide audience and share her message beyond Los Angeles. In one line of “Dreaming with Me,” she writes, “You look at me, I’m suddenly a rock star, just like you are,” reflecting her message is that everyone has the power to act as a role model and enact meaningful change.
As performers return to stages, a new life has been breathed into LA’s clubs, theaters and concert halls. It’s an energy that Carey has not taken for granted.
“You didn’t realize how much social time we missed, and as human beings we really need to be social with people,” Carey said. “I’m just getting excited about everything because now I get to do shows, I’ve got new tunes coming out and I’m going back to Nashville in September to record more music.
“The world is filled with ups and downs,” Carey said. “I want to help people see things in a more positive light and find a better place in life.”
So Petty w/Eileen Carey
WHEN: Friday, June 10; doors open at 6 p.m.
WHERE: The Canyon Santa Clarita, 24201 Valencia Boulevard, Suite 1351, Santa Clarita
COST: Tickets start at $29; two-drink minimum