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Interview


Carey and Granger were interviewed by Ken Garner at The Navarre Press for an article promoting their appearance at Earth Day Festival Pensacola.  Carey's notes can be seen in blue :). 

Navarre Press - April 2004
By Ken Garner
Reprinted with permission from Navarre Press

Two words comprise singer and songwriter Carey Colvin’s most frequently repeated advice: “Be brave.”

Last summer, the 30-something [Carey's Note:  Wow, I haven't been 30-something in a while - cool!] daughter of an Air Force fighter pilot and husband Granger Helvey, also a musician, put Colvin’s mantra to the test, leaving a comfortable niche in the Washington, D.C., music community to move to Navarre on a well-nurtured whim.


The couple finished their Southern Exposure tour July 3 and had relocated to Navarre by Aug. 1. They’ve spent the past eight months settling in and “starting over.” The musicians took day jobs to ensure a steady income (Colvin is a sales associate for Holiday Builders; Helvey is a computer engineer), and they’ve established their three youngest children, Summer, Susannah and Hank, in local schools. (Tom, 24, lives in Virginia).

With that foundation laid, Colvin and Helvey are beginning to explore musical opportunities in the area. Colvin, whose eclectic mix of folk rock, blues, rock-edged pop and modern alternative rock she calls “an effervescent concoction of stuff you like,” is scheduled to perform from 3:40 to 5 p.m. Saturday as the featured entertainer for Earth Day 2004 Pensacola at Bartram Park, on Bayfront Parkway near where it becomes Main Street.

Playing at an event to raise environmental awareness fits the couple’s pattern of supporting causes they consider worthwhile. Colvin has contributed songs to CDs benefiting Relay for Life (American Cancer Society), Hungry for Music (music education for inner city youth) and projects helping the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association.

“It’s good to get out there and make it count,” Helvey said. Colvin added, “We like to give back to the community we’re living in.”

Colvin said she was very happy to be playing at Earth Day and thanked the organizers for contacting her.

“Our environment – This is what we have,” she said. “We have to take care of it.” 

A long-held desire to live by the sea and the changing character of the Washington area contributed to Colvin and Helvey’s decision to move south. Helvey, born and raised in Northern Virginia,  [Carey's Note: That would be Roanoke, VA]  has loved the beach since childhood, but hadn’t seen anything like the white sands of the Emerald Coast until about three years ago when a concert swing brought the Carey Colvin Band to Fort Walton Beach.

“I’d heard her talk about the sand here in her songs – ‘sugar sands’ – but I always thought she was exaggerating,” Helvey said. “I thought ‘Sand is sand, right?’ ”

Thanks to her father, retired Col. Thomas Colvin who commanded Red Horse at Hurlburt Field from 1976 to 1978, Colvin already was familiar with the Panhandle in general and the Emerald Coast in particular. She and Helvey had talked about moving to the area off and on for 10 years, but not seriously.

Then came the horror of Sept. 11, 2001, when the couple lost a friend in the Pentagon crash. Not long after, the sniper killings in suburban Maryland were too near the Colvin-Helvey home.

“Everybody in D.C., is tense,” Colvin said. “Our children were afraid, and we already had to show IDs to get into school everyday (before the sniper attacks).”

Colvin was born into a musical family with roots in Beckingham County in central Virginia – the same county that spawned the musical Carter Family and June Carter Cash, Colvin’s distant relatives on her father’s mother’s side (Colvin has met Rosanne Cash, Johnny’s daughter and a successful country music recording artist). Her father, a life-long Johnny Cash fan, plays guitar, piano, trombone and banjo; her mother plays piano and drums; both grandmothers played piano; and her mother’s father was a bluegrass fiddler. [Carey's Note:  Actually, it's was my father's father who was the fiddler.  Okay, we had a lot of musicians in our family, it gets confusing!]

The Poquoson, Va., High School graduate said she always has known she wanted to be a performer. 

“I wanted to be one of those kids on TV, I wanted to be a June Taylor dancer,” she said with a laugh. Colvin smiles, remembering her tennis-racket guitar, Hi-Fi 45 adaptor microphone and go-go boots.

She learned piano and flute, and got her first taste of performing as a member of her junior high school band. “I loved it,” she said. She’s had two guitar lessons, and admits her strumming isn’t her strong suit.  [Carey's note:  Actually, I said "picking", not "strumming".  I can strum with the best of 'em!]

“I’m a songwriter, I sing but I’m not a great player,” she said. “That’s why I hire a lead guitarist. Somebody’s got to keep the rhythm, that’s what I do.”

Songwriting has been a strong suit, though. She’s been nominated for, and won, a variety of singing and songwriting awards. The Bluebird Café, famous before it was the setting of a music showcase on The Nashville Network, recently invited Colvin to perform her music at a Writer’s Night on April 25.

“It’s really hard to get into,” Colvin said of the show. “It’s a prestigious thing.”  

Colvin said joining a D.C., area songwriting group was a revelation. 

“Most people write some of a song, set it aside, come back to it and write some more, set it aside, come back to it later and rewrite some of it. They take a huge block of time to write a song,” she said. “I started to feel like I didn’t belong. I have never had that experience.”

Instead, she said, songs are born fully realized in her mind. Translating the songs from her mind to a score is her biggest challenge.

Although not averse to playing bars, the couple said they’re content now to play showcases and festivals, which are more family friendly.

Because Colvin’s father was a fighter pilot and transferred often, she was born at Edwards Air Force Base and grew up on bases from Japan to Florida. Colvin said being exposed to many different views of life is reflected in her music’s diversity. Colvin’s many musical influences include Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, Led Zepplin, Jimmie Spheeris, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Yes, the Glen Miller Orchestra, Steely Dan, Carole King and the Andrews Sisters.

In May of 2000 she released her debut CD, “The Distance Wall,” which she co-produced with Helvey and award-winning producer Marco Delmar.  The CD also features guest artists such as John Jennings (of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s band) and Tom Prasada-Rao.  Carey began recording her next CD, “Let It Flow,” in 2003.  Guest artists include Jon Carroll (who has played with Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Starland Vocal Band), Jeff Pevar (Crosby, Pevar and Raymond; Rickie Lee Jones; Shawn Colvin) and more. “Let It Flow” is expected to be released later this year.

For more information about Colvin, Helvey and their music, go to www.careycolvin.com or e-mail info@raspberrysunmusic.com.


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