Search the Blog

Get Feed via Email

Dear 1999

Posted in 2009 Wrap Up, A Day in the Life, Articles | 10 Comments »

This post is part of a group blog event organized by The topic is “If you could go back to 1999 and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?”

letter in a bottle

Dear 1999 Carla,

Hey Girlfriend, it’s 2009 Carla. I know you’re going through a lot, and I want to let you know that it’s okay. Right now you’re feeling sad, and questioning continuing your future in music because:

Ahmet Ertegun, Founder and CEO of Atlantic Records (and your newly-adopted music biz Godfather), just told you that you were too old to be a recording artist, and that you should just become a publicist.
• You were recently fired from EMI Music Publishing’s Synch department
• Your mom died this year, and after spending half a year in Miami to take care of business, you wondered if you still had the guts to return to your music career in NYC.
• You still haven’t recorded your first CD

I know, after looking at these issues, you’re wondering if you should just run back to Miami, get married and have kids, and just forget this music nonsense. But I must tell you now that your passion to make music is bigger than you are. Your determination and persistence will take you farther than you could ever imagine. I want you to hang in there, so I’ve come up with some life lessons to share:

Life is Too Short to Be Afraid
For too many years, you’ve hidden your gifts after comparing them to others’. All your hesitation is a waste of time. Just because you felt out of place in music school doesn’t mean that you are not musical. There is a place in this Universe that only you can fill, but you’ll never know if you don’t go for it.

Do You
It is fine to be a black chick playing acoustic guitar in a world full of R&B Divas. Stop worrying if your music is black enough, or if you can SANG. You do not need to sound like Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston. You are a soulful singer who touches people with your own unique and powerful vocal gifts. Just be you. You are enough.

I know you’ve been worried about how much music you’ve written so far in your life, but this will change. Your skills as a songwriter will eventually improve, and you will even write songs for others. Just keep working at it.

Writing and Teaching
After coming from a family of teachers, you will continue to grow as a musician who teaches other musicians how to build their own careers. It’s in your blood so don’t fight it. You will write countless articles and eBooks, which will become another way to support yourself. However, do not hide behind your teaching. By continuing to perform, you will remain relevant as an artist, and evolve with the music marketing skills that you teach.

Practice and Study
Guess what? Practice actually works. When you take the time to shed your songs, work on your guitar playing, and learn your choreography, it shows. Natural talent is nice, but preparing your performances makes the difference between being good, and being great.

Your Music Business
Over the next few years, you will grow as an entrepreneur. You will release 4 CDs on your own label, in addition to even having another artist on a subsidiary label. Instead of negotiating synch licenses for EMI Music Publishing songs, you will one day have synch licenses for your own musical catalog. You will become a performer, writer, and teacher on a global level, and even coach others.

Trust Your Instincts
When the first MP3 player hit the market, you asked Ahmet Ertegun if it was possible for this technology to endanger the music industry as we knew it. As you remember, he scoffed at the notion. Well, he was wrong. If he could be wrong about MP3s, then he could be wrong about your marketability as a recording artist. As a matter of fact, he was wrong about that too.

Never underestimate the influence of the leading men in your life. The wrong guy will affect your career progress, so choose wisely. Your love life will continue to be colorful, and your experiences will also lead to some wonderful songs. When choosing a partner, always pick a supportive guy who believes in you and your music. Stay away from energy vampires. Never settle for less.

Be Bold
Take risks. Follow your own rhythm. Make mistakes.

Girl, you got it. Now it’s time for you to believe it. So go for it!

2009 Carla

CLH, Cameron Mizell, and David Hahn
Me with Cameron Mizell and Dave Hahn from