FOR 73-year-old Julie Carter, the appearance of her talent for writing songs and the emergence of what she describes as her “alter ego” were late arriving.
A fan of karaoke, the Eastern Bay singer says it was her love for singing that first led her to try her hand at writing songs. Writing lyrics, then learning to create music using computer software, and transferring that music into a digital form that could be used for karaoke, Julie says she loved the opportunity to sing her own songs at karaoke.
“But people often wouldn’t believe that I’d actually written them and created that music myself,” Julie says, describing a problem she says was recurrent, and was both “hurtful and humiliating”.
Because of her isolation from the music community that developed as a result, Julie explored alternative pathways, connecting with international online music sites to share her songs, to share ideas and to connect with recording session-singers she could use to bring her music to life.
“I can sing, and I do, but I’m 73 and I’m not looking for a pop music career,” she says. “I do perform some local gigs and I’m open to that, but first and foremost, I’m a songwriter focused on writing and producing songs, and recording under my label, Songs of Humanity.”
Having had little success with her recordings in the New Zealand music industry, Julie looked further afield, exploring online options for budding songwriters to have their music heard and recorded. “I think the music industry here is rotten to the core. It is nigh impossible to get exposure in this country, even with your local radio station,” she says.
And she has met with some success, being contacted recently by an American film company with a request to purchase one of her songs for use in a movie. “For a Christian action film, that’s all they told me,” she says.
“It was a tribute song I’d written for the father of a 14-month-old baby that was murdered in Christchurch, Angel of the Rainbow.”
She says commissions to create tribute songs for people who have lost loved ones in tragic circumstances is something she is developing further.
And Julie says she has also had good feedback online on another song, from a former producer of Elton John’s, though “the money required to proceed with anything is something I will never have”.
Julie describes her songs and music as crossing many genres; country, country rock, jazz and jazz funk, and soul, with her songs inspired by her own experience, or the experiences of others. She has written an anthem-type song, Aotearoa, Aotearoa, which can be viewed at https://youtube/Th2dp2E1zUs
Julie is currently using a Jewish session-singer based in Greece, an experience she describes as more enjoyable than any of her recording experiences in New Zealand. “It also costs peppercorns compared to the arm and a leg it costs for session-singers here and I don’t have a lot of money.”
Singing her unrecorded songs at gigs or karaoke, Julie says she has never suffered from nerves. “It’s my alter ego that’s performing,” she says. “I think it’s the person that’s always been inside of me.”
Though having always loved music, she says any talent or confidence she may have naturally had was lost as a child.
“I remember my grandmother wanting to gift me her piano,” Julie says. “My father said no, that if it came to the house, he would chop it up for firewood. He said pianos were for clever people with talent, not for the likes of me.”
It was a tough upbringing, she says. Born in England to “Stalinist” parents, Julie says her mother didn’t like to interact with other people. “So, my childhood was very isolated.”
She says in later years, her former childhood neighbour had told her how Julie would often sing as a toddler, reined into her pram outside of her house.
“My mother would leave me out there for hours apparently, and my old neighbour told me that I would just sing. And not just sing, but sing in tune. It had amazed her, and she had wanted to make sure that I knew.
“So, I think I’ve probably been singing most of my life, but without the confidence I now have.”
“I think music is the most emotional and inspiration way of changing people’s attitudes and mindsets,” she says. “I’d like to think I could make the world a better place through my music.”
Julie can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.