Leaving Home to Starting Over in Nashville — Karlie Bartholomew’s A Way To Start
Born and raised in Brooklyn Park, Maryland, Karlie Bartholomew has always had a passion for music. While shy as a child, Bartholomew was able to use music to find her voice. She started writing her own songs at a young age, participating in every talent show she could beginning in elementary school.
Can you share a memory of performing in an elementary talent show?
My first performance ever was in my 2nd grade talent show, singing “Tomorrow” from Annie. Every day after school leading up to the performance I would practice with my dad and he would coach me. My mom made me a handmade costume similar to what Annie wore in the orphanage and she got me a big stuffed dog that sat behind me on stage. I don’t remember being nervous, but I stood completely still throughout the entire song until the curtains closed on me. Some other notable talent show performances were Rod Stewart’s version of “You Can’t Take That Away from Me” where I tap danced and wore a sequin top hat as well as “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne.
Used your father’s old six-string to learn to play the guitar in high school, playing John Mayer’s “Stop This Train” and teaching yourself the guitar techniques in the track to use in your own writes. Which song from Sob Rock, his latest release, is your new favorite?
“My songs focus on storytelling, hoping the listener can see themselves in my music.” Heavily influenced by artists like Ingrid Michaelson, Norah Jones and Sara Bareilles. What stands out about these artists that inspires you the most?
Authenticity and honesty are important to me in my writing, and these artists all possess these qualities in their music. I love how their lyrics paint a picture that allow me to feel like I was there with them.
Moved to Boston, attended Berklee College of Music, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Music, focusing on Contemporary Writing/Production and Performance. What was it like at the 2017 commencement concert to be the featured soloist to honor Lucinda Williams (in front of her), Lionel Richie, Todd Rundgren and Neil Portnow?
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When I applied to be a part of the Commencement Concert, I thought I would most likely be a background singer if I got in. It was a wonderful surprise and such an honor when I got the email saying they wanted me to be a featured vocalist. I remember being a little nervous beforehand, but once I walked on stage it felt like I belonged there. It was the biggest crowd I have ever sang for with about 7,000 people, and I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since that moment. I hope to be able to perform my own songs for a crowd of that size again someday.
Debut single, “Brooklyn Park,” about your hometown and “how hard it is to leave home and start a new life away from all you’ve ever known.” What is your favorite lyric from the song? Why?
My favorite lyric would have to be, “If only I could wander in the dark, I’d leave my roots back in Brooklyn Park.” I love the imagery of trying to find my way in the darkness, not knowing what’s to come next. I’ve also always had a fear of the dark, which ties into the idea that I need to face my fears in order to move on.
“Back Bay” mirrors the feeling of homesickness, reflecting on the time in Boston while attending college and saying a proper goodbye to the city. What are some of your favorite landmarks in the city that you’d recommend to new visitors to the town?
My two favorite places in Boston were the Public Garden and the Museum of Fine Arts. In the summer, the Public Garden has swan boats that you can ride around the pond and the garden itself is absolutely beautiful. I also love art history, and the MFA always has great exhibitions.
Debut EP, A Way to Start. The songs follow your timeline, over the past nine years, leaving home to start over in Nashville.
“Hold On,” the first song you finished writing in Music City, talks about being on your own.
“May” is a sad love song, written in college, that has evolved over the years. What message do you hope fans take away from the songs?
I hope my fans can relate to these songs and they can provide them a safe space when navigating life’s changes. With this being my debut EP, I hope these songs gives listeners an understanding of who I am as a person and artist as well.
What’s ahead in 2022?
There is more music in the works for 2022! I am planning to do some touring this year as well.
© 2022 Karlie Bartholomew. All Right Reserved. Photography by Kirsten Balani.