Carolyn Malachi’s eclectic, soulful sound not only uplifts her listeners; it empowers. From her activism to her 2011 Grammy nomination, Carolyn’s ability to bring about a meaningful outcome from the act of following her passion is extraordinary to say the least. We at The Indie Chicks are honored to feature Carolyn Malachi. Be sure to check back for part 2 of the interview along with an exclusive surprise tomorrow.
Carolyn, Thank you so much for taking the time to interview with us. When did you first realize that music is your purpose?
I appreciate this interview, Indie Chicks!
During undergrad at Shepherd, I played local gigs, and was the only person of color in my band. Relatively speaking, Shepherdstown, WV is culturally homogenous. I did, however, notice that we always had a diverse audience comprised of my friends from the university and my band’s friends from the community. This was the “aha” moment. I was doing something that caused completely unassociated people to gather.
On campus, many of my projects involved taking music and other forms of art to the student body. I remember organizing a sold-out fashion show. The school’s president attended and addressed some of the college’s then-racial tension. I created a series of dances called Irie Time to raise money for the men’s soccer team. International students comprised more than 80% of the team (a winning program), yet their scholarships and other financial aid could not exceed 20% of their school fees. That seemed unfair.
We admire your work with the #IAM campaign. Please tell our readers more about your work and how you’ve managed to take part in donating 10,000 school hours to children in East Africa and other parts of the world.
Thank you. The #IAM Campaign is the brainchild of the School Fund, the Carmelita Group, and myself. Each of us genuinely cares about improving global access to education, and we love music. Quite organically, we began imagining disruptive ways to use music as a vehicle for social change. The goal of the #IAM Campaign is to plant a seed in the minds of students around the world. We want them to one day say, “I am a doctor,” “I am a journalist,” “I am an engineer” – whatever it is they aspire to be, we want them to realize that goal.
In January, each view of my music video, Free Your Mind, raised an hour of class time for students in Kenya and Tanzania. E-textbook provider, Chegg, donated the cost of 10,000 hours of class time. This was a major win for the campaign and a moment of personal pride. Just a few months before, Chegg worked with Taylor Swift and Ellen on domestic education initiatives.
The #IAM campaign is fueled by hope. It allows the people to give the gift of education while getting something they love – good music. I am excited to continue this work. With the release of my upcoming album, GOLD, each download will provide an hour of class time for any The School Fund’s students, worldwide.
Your music is so soulful and the energy with which you created can literally be heard in your work. Do you do anything to mentally/physically prepare for recording and/or performances?
Oh, yes. My band puts in work. We get into comical, sometimes heated discussions about what the songs mean and how to approach the music. We care about delivering a world-class, immersive and memorable experience. Ultimately, our goal is to connect this real music to your real life. We love what we do, and we have fun doing it.
Individually, I do jumping jacks and listen to African music before shows. Right now, I’m really into Soukous and Kwaito. There’s something about singing loud and wrong in another language that takes the edge off of pre-show jitters. It also reminds me that music is a universal language.
Inspiration is infused within your music. To your fans who are encouraged by your work, what additional words of wisdom do you want to impart to them?
Self-empowerment is an adornment acquired through life’s lessons. I agree with the sculptor, George Brooks, when he said about jewelry, “Ideally, one should be a work of art that is worn instead of displayed on a stand.” Wear your uniqueness with pride.
Be sure to check back here tomorrow, Tuesday, June 18, for an exclusive surprise from Carolyn Malachi.