Ever since she started singing at church as a toddler, Carly Collura felt that music was her calling. “This was always the dream, always the passion. When I sing or perform or write music, it’s just pure happiness.” The singer-songwriter moved from Motor City to Music City nearly two years ago to chase that dream. But making the decision to leave the home and family she loved wasn’t easy.
Back in Michigan, Carly had followed the traditional route of attending college, getting married, and buying a house. “A few years into my career working as a physical therapist assistant, I realized this just doesn’t make me happy.” She knew in her heart that the next step was to move to Nashville. “For country music, it’s where you go.” With the support of her husband and family, she started planning the move In 2016.
Carly lined up a day job in Nashville, and prayed about what would happen next. “I put it in God’s hands, and a few days later I found a place to stay. It felt good just to let go and not worry.” For her first three months in Nashville, she lived in a garage apartment that had a bathroom, a bed, and a couch – but no kitchen. Soon after that, she bought a house and was joined by her husband and pit bull, Chase.
Once she got settled in her new house, the next challenge Carly faced was not knowing where to start in the music scene. She signed on with the artist consulting agency, Laminate Entertainment. With their guidance, Carly recorded a 6-track EP of her original music, “Motor City Meets Music City.” The album includes “Runnin’ Underwater” -- a pop country song about the struggle to leave an unhealthy relationship. She sings the lyrics: Staying is hard / But leaving is harder / Heading for the door / Is like runnin' underwater
The official music video for “Runnin’ Underwater” was filmed at a loft in downtown Nashville at the end of March. “I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, especially for a first video.” The video was shot and produced by FlyHi Films, a production company that has produced music videos and other projects for Luke Bryan, Cole Swindell, Brett Eldridge, Florida Georgia Line, and other country A-listers. The official music video will be released this summer; watch the video below to see behind the scenes at the shoot.
As an independent artist, Carly is bankrolling the cost of production with money she earned from her day job. She explains why she chose “Runnin’ Underwater” for her first music video. “We felt like it was a song a lot of people could relate to, and the sound matched what’s going on in country music right now.”
Carly’s pop/country/rock sound was influenced by the music she listened to growing up, which included Christina Aguilera, Shania Twain, and Faith Hill. She says it wasn’t until Carrie Underwood won American Idol that her eyes were opened to country music. “When I heard “Before He Cheats," I was like, ‘oh yes!’” Carly’s strong voice is perfectly suited for belting out songs of empowerment. “I almost feel that when you sing songs like that, it’s like an alter ego, and you can take out any frustration or aggression. They’re my favorite kind of song to sing.”
One of the highlights of Carly’s career so far was when she flew back to her hometown of Taylor, Michigan to be the opening act for the Rockin’ Country Music Festival in 2017. She played a 30-minute set of her original songs before country stars Billy Ray Cyrus, Old Dominion, Michael Ray, and Carly Pearce took the stage after her. “It was nice to see my name up on the poster with theirs. To perform on that stage amongst those people in a park that I grew up playing in, it was like a full circle moment for me.”
She experienced another “full circle moment” a year later when the radio station she grew up listening to – Detroit’s 99.5 WYCD – played her song “Motor City Meets Music City.” She was living in Nashville at the time. “I downloaded the radio app and then went and got in my car, and everyone back home kept texting me… I was trying to listen to my song and everyone was blowing up my phone. It was such an exciting and emotional moment!”
Carly is grateful for the friends and family back home who have encouraged her to follow her dream. “I don’t think I would have been able to get through it (the move to Nashville) without praying, and without God, and having a good support system from my family and friends who were praying for me too.” She admits to feeling homesick at times (and recently wrote a song on that subject). “But I don’t want people to think that the homesickness is going to trump following my dream. I moved here for a reason, and that’s kind of my drive. I left everything and everyone I love to be here.”
Carly feels a kinship with other aspiring musicians and artists that she’s met since moving here. “I feel like everybody here is a dreamer. Everyone is busting their ass to make it. It’s really inspiring to be surrounded by people that are going through the same struggles and have the same dreams. There’s something really empowering about that.”
Catch Carly’s next local show on Monday, May 6 at Redneck Riviera. She is part of the lineup of singer-songwriters performing at Live Laugh Love Nashville’s acoustic showcase from 7-10 PM, with all proceeds benefiting Notes for Notes. Get $5 tickets at this link.
On July 20, Carly will open for Trailer Choir and Carters Chord at the Bedford County Fair in Shelbyville, TN.
Carly's EP is available on iTunes
For more info, go to Carly's website
FUN FACTS AND TRIVIA
Arts and crafts, kick-boxing
Restaurant: Puckett's (meatloaf)
Venue: Dawg House Saloon
Concert: 3-way tie between Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Imagine Dragons
Movie: Jurassic Park; also Disney classics Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid, Lion King
Written by Laurel Moore on 04/08/2019 for Live Laugh Love Nashville