Local Singer Hopes to Become the Next Nashville Star
Carmen Brandy has been told she has what it takes to become a singing sensation. But she’s intent on doing it her way.
Talking to Carmen Brandy, it’s easy to forget she’s still a student at Safety Harbor Middle School. Her Tampa Bay performances included one this fall in Largo.
Not only does the effervescent eighth grader speak with a maturity that belies her age, she has a clear understanding of what she wants to do when it comes to her burgeoning singing career.
And if the fact that she writes her own songs, tackling mature topics like love and bullying, doesn’t convince you she’s wise beyond her years, perhaps her choice of musical idol will.
“As an artist I really look up to Johnny Cash,” the 14-year-old says. “He’s an amazing singer and songwriter, and he’s conquered everything there is to conquer in life.”
“That’s the kind of performer I’d like to be.”
From Florida to Texas
Carmen has been singing and playing instruments most of her life, artistic traits she says she inherited from her father, Tony.
But it’s just been in the past year that her star began to rise.
Following a family vacation to Ohio last Christmas, the Brandys decided to make a pit stop in Nashville to try and get a couple of gigs in Music City on Carmen’s resume.
“She wasn’t shy at all,” Carmen’s mom and manager, Kari, says of the first time she performed in Nashville. “She just got right up there and did her thing.”
The performance caught the eye of a pair of recording industry professionals, who said they were impressed with what they saw in Carmen, and they quickly formed a working relationship with the teen.
“They invited us to come back and record an EP in the spring, so we did,” Carmen says. “My producer worked with Johnny Cash. So I really enjoyed that.”
That experience led to another recording session in San Antonio with Robert De La Garza, an industry insider who has a long and storied career in the business. He was also impressed with Brandy’s songwriting ability and unique sound.
“He said it sounded like something from the 70s,” she says of her edgy, country/rock style. “He really liked it.”
She'll Do It Her Way
Encouraged by the San Antonio recording session, the Brandys are seriously considering moving to Nashville to help further Carmen's career.
Kari and Tony, who own their own food delivery service, Manna Meals, have the financial flexibility to afford such a move, although Kari admits the recording sessions “took a big chunk of change” out of their pocket.
"We've always looked at buying a second home," Kari says. "Now that we're traveling there so much, it just makes sense."
But for now, Carmen is concentrating on finishing middle school and getting gigs – she played at the Country Jubilee and will play again at Heritage Village in January – as well as maturing as an artist and a person.
“Fame and fortune doesn’t matter to me right now,” she admits. “I just want to get my name out there and get better.”
When asked if she'd consider entering one of the many televised singing competitions in order to enhance her career, Carmen gives a typically mature response.
“No. They change you, and I am still developing, as a person and a singer, right now,” she says of being on American Idol or X Factor. “I don’t want to be compelled to do things I don’t want to do.”
“I don’t want to be compared to anybody," she adds. "I want to be known as Carmen Brandy.”
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