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Centerville native Caro Kelley reflects on her musical career in Germany

This week songwriter Caro Kelley visited the WYSO studios for a conversation with music director Juliet Fromholt about her musical career, upcoming single release and more.

Hailing from Centerville, Ohio, Kelley started making music early, taking piano lessons from the age of five. She was involved in Centerville High School's band program, including playing piano and singing with the school's jazz, which Kelley says helped instill a lifelong love of the genre.

"I love the freedom [of singing jazz], the rhythmic freedom, the freedom to change the melody when something's too high or too low," said Kelley. "So when I went off to college, jazz voice was my major. So now no matter what I do, like, I might play a rock song or write a folk song, but the jazz just never leaves my voice."

Kelley studied music at Center College in Kentucky, and a Fulbright scholarship brought her to Vienna to study musicology. Now based in Munich, Kelley has been forging her career as musician and songwriter in Europe.

"It's helpful to be be an American, be a foreigner. You're kind of memorable. People like, 'hey, have you seen that American girl play?' You know? So that is nice, but it is hard. I don't have the family fan base. You know, when you start playing, you get all your friends and family and they come. I do obviously have friends in Munich, but it's been a little trickier. You have to kind of build it from scratch," says Kelley. Despite this, "Singing in English is no big deal. Germans love English music. A lot of German artists also do not write in German. They'll say, 'oh, I think it's weird to write in German. It's too personal, where English feels a little more artistic.' That's not something [Americans] really think about because, you know, a lot of Americans only speak English."

Kelley has transitioned from performing largely covers and songs written by fellow musicians to her own original songs, a process that began during the pandemic.

"I had all this time on my hands and I was like, well, I'd actually never written a song before, which is so silly. It's so silly that I'd never tried. I'd been playing covers, I play in other people's bands doing our music. And I just thought, well, it's very hard to work with other musicians right now. I'll just do it alone. So I was like let's write some songs. And then it turns out I was like, oh, this is great."

Caro Kelley's music is available on all major streaming platforms and via her website.

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Juliet Fromholt is proud to be music director at 91.3FM WYSO. Juliet began volunteering at WYSO while working at WWSU, the student station at her alma mater, Wright State University. After joining WYSO's staff in 2009, Juliet developed WYSO’s digital and social media strategy until moving into the music director role in 2021. An avid music fan and former record store employee, Juliet continues to host her two music shows, Alpha Rhythms and Kaleidoscope, which features studio performances from local musicians every week. She also co-hosts Attack of the Final Girls, a horror film review podcast.