We had the good fortune of connecting with Carleen Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Carleen, why did you pursue a creative career?
I chose an artistic and creative career because it felt like the only thing(s) I was good at. Things I wasn’t good at had felt too scary. Creating is where I feel the most safety and presence. When I was in my adolescence, there were expectations I wasn’t meeting. I lived in a polygynist cult that glorified the patriarchy even more so than this “outside world” I know today. With patriarchy came misogyny and unfortunately many of the women were misogynistic, too, including my multiple mothers. As a woman, I was expected to be able to cook, sew, clean, etc. Some of this contributed to my craftiness, but it still didn’t feel as safe as being behind an instrument. As a woman, I was not accepted as I was and therefore I felt the need to perform. I got quite good at wearing a mask, but I also had an inherent wisdom knowing that I needed to care for and accept myself. The arts were how I would do this. Making music made me feel heard and it gave me the opportunity to really compose my words in a way that I wanted them to be heard. Anywhere else I feel unsafe, my words spill out in senseless stutters and anxiety. My nervous system is quite shook up due to many traumas as a child. Music and other arts calm that for me so I’ve built my life around that.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I make singer-songwriter music which is basically folk. I’m a born & raised rural, folky person. I’d say what makes me different, though, is that I’m eclectic. I enjoy and appreciate all genres of music. My heroes are pop-rock or alternative so that’s the sound I aim for, but my roots bleed through and make a cool fusion that I enjoy. I’m also a highly cerebral and abstract person, too, which sets me apart from other singer-songwriters. What I’m most proud of is getting myself through college. It has absolutely elevated my life and my social circles. What I’m most excited about is the music I’m releasing this year. It’s hands down the music I’ve always wanted to make. I already have two singles out. The most recent release is titled “Entropic.” That’s the brainy one, but a good vibe. The other is a ballad type called “Tidal Wave.” I’ll be releasing my third single in May. It’s the funnest one yet! I got to where I am today professionally by getting my degree as mentioned earlier. It was most certainly not easy. I mean, I did well academically because I’m obedient. I actually do what I’m told to do, but when I’m not good at what I’m told to do, it bruises my confidence a lot. That triggers a lot of my other nervous system problems and my traumas. I was extremely emotional all throughout college and even when I had finished, I felt like I hit a wall that knocked me on my back. Then I felt like I had no energy to get back up until now… years later. I suffer from anxiety, obviously, and I’m just now coming out of a years-long depression and feeling numb. I know that what I’ve always needed from other humans has simply been compassion. It’s my mission and purpose to give that to others and also to self. In the past, I’ve had major problems with my parents but now I just work on reparenting myself. Giving myself the love I need. One thing I adore about myself is that I don’t give up. I rest, but I don’t quit. That’s how I overcome my challenges. I face my discomforts and fears and I still show up even if I’m late and ugly crying. This is already a lengthy answer, so I won’t list all of the lessons I’ve learned. I will just say that the pain I’ve endured has taught me what my actual desires are. I want freedom from feeling weighed down. I am multifaceted and a dynamic personality and I intend to share that. That’s what I want the world to know about my story.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would definitely take my best friend to the beach. That’s vague, so I’d likely take her to more than one. Venice is a must-see, but it can get a bit crowded. I would start with taking her to a less crowded beach in Malibu. My favorites are El Matador and Leo Carrillo. If she was here for a week, I’d even take day trips to Santa Barbara and San Diego. I would want to find a cantina in any of these places. There’s nothing I love more than being next to the ocean eating spicy food and drinking salty drinks. Apart from the ocean, I think Griffith Observatory is a must. It thrills my nerdy side to observe all of the astronomical things inside the building. The view of the city is also wonderful. I’ve already hosted several tours of LA actually! In my experience, tourists always ask to see the Hollywood sign. I personally think the view from Griffith Observatory is sufficient, but sometimes I will take visitors closer to the sign. Another reason I love Griffith is because I love to hike. However, I’m not so sure that’s on the agenda of everyone who visits. I would also show my friend nearby Los Feliz simply because of the artsy energy there. They have a lot of cute restaurants as well. That about sums it up! Cute restaurants, nature and some museums. There are also other parks that are cool if there’s time. For example, Exposition Park is super cool. It’s got the Coliseum there, the California Science Center, the Rose Garden, USC obviously! I’d say that place is a must see if there’s extra time. If there was even more time, I’d take my friend to see the other college campuses and arenas, too. LA Live is exciting. I could go on and on, but will save that for when my friend visits.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Ok so you know how many people had labels in high school and sometimes that sticks with them even more into adulthood? Yeah that didn’t happen to me, but if it had, I’d be a teacher’s pet. My teachers were my absolute champions. More specifically, my music teacher and my drama teacher. I still have my drama teacher on my FaceBook and he’s still such a cheerleader for me. His name is Richard Hill. So shout-out to Rich!! In college, I had professors who were Ivy-Leaguers and so I looked up to them a lot. I was so obedient in everything they’d tell me to do so naturally they loved me back. So I’d give them a lot of credit and recognition, too!

Website: http://carleenwilliams.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carleenmusic/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carleenmusic

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_MaDwBqz5XCKdm4oAGveQA

Other: linktr.ee/carleenmusic

Image Credits
Jason Lowrie, Michelle Williams

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.