Today we’d like to introduce you to Carmela.
Thanks for sharing your story with us. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
As a child, I was always drawn to art. I went from wanting to be a visual artist to wanting to be an actress, then a film director. I taught myself keyboard and loved singing in my church choir. In second grade, my mom asked if I wanted to try out for a production of The Sound of Music at a local community theatre, and I said yes. I discovered my love of performing at that theatre. I performed in musicals all of elementary school and middle school, but once I discovered rock music, I found my true love.
In middle school, I picked up the guitar, started writing songs, then I created a YouTube channel where I posted videos of myself singing covers and originals. While I was a junior in high school, a musician named Mark Malagise reached out to me through my YouTube channel. He sent me some of his original songs and asked me if I wanted to join his band. I absolutely loved his music; it sounded like a hybrid of Nirvana and The White Stripes. After high school, I moved to Pittsburgh, learned how to play bass, and worked with Mark and our producer to finish our first EP. From 2014-2017 we independently released that album and a few singles under our band name (Thrift), played live shows all over the country, and collaborated with some truly amazing people.
In 2017, Mark decided to leave the band, but since Thrift was all I knew at that time, I found new live musicians and continued writing and recording. But after two years of doing that, I decided to end Thrift and start my journey as a solo artist.
Going solo this year has already been such an exciting experience, and I can’t wait to share not only some new music but more of who I am as a person.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I silently battled with depression for most of my life, not knowing how to ask for help. My depression only worsened after losing a dear friend of mine to an eating disorder, then years later I ended up in a psychologically abusive relationship that ate away at what was left of me. So much was falling apart and I didn’t have energy to try to put the pieces back together anymore. I had lost my fight.
In early 2017, I was convinced things wouldn’t get better. I was sent to a psychiatric hospital for a suicide attempt, thus beginning my treacherous yet absolutely necessary journey to healing and showing the hell up for myself.
It’s been a long haul, but three years later I am happy. I have my ups and downs like anyone else, but anyone who has suffered with depression knows that finding happiness feels impossible. I always thought happiness just wasn’t in the cards for me. Healing has taken a combination of therapy, community, setting goals, accepting myself, and letting people in.
The stigma in our society surrounding mental illness is absolutely insane. People that know me personally wouldn’t consider me a dark person, but my mental health struggles make up a large part of who I am. I have always felt like my mental illness and experiences surrounding it were something I needed to hide, even though most people struggle in some way. I want people to know through my story that things can and will get better, even if it doesn’t feel possible. For me, music is the one thing that has been there for me through everything.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I just released my first single, “Bitter Pill,” on Valentine’s Day. I’m so excited to start this new journey with it. It’s an honest look into a toxic relationship I was in, and I hope that people will be able to relate to it. Currently, I’m finishing up my debut EP which is dropping May 2020. I’ve been working on it for the past year, and I’m extremely excited to finally share these songs.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think drive, passion, and having a support system have been essential to any of my successes. To me, success isn’t being rich or famous—it’s about growth. After my suicide attempt I made a commitment to myself to always keep growing, learning, and pushing forward. Passion isn’t something I can control—I love and always will love making music—, and drive is the conscious effort I make to embrace challenges. And the most important driving factor for me is my amazing friends and family. They are both my teammates and biggest cheerleaders, and without them, I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am.
Carmela (formerly Anna Carmela) is a genre-bending singer, bassist, songwriter, performer, and producer based out of Southern CA.
Katrina Patterson (https://www.kapmedia.co/); Vergeworthy (photo with the bass)