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Singer Carrie Cleveland is back at 82 and sharing her story

Carrie Cleveland performs

March is Women’s History Month in the US, so it’s a great time to have American singer Carrie Cleveland over for an interview! She is a legend, becoming popular on the soul music scene in Oakland with her 1978 album Looking Up. The top photo shows her singing back in the ’70s. After four decades away from the industry, she’s back and sharing her story – Here! What an honor it was to interview her.

Singer Carrie Cleveland returns to music

A successful music comeback isn’t easy to do, but here is Carrie Cleveland, back at 82 and going strong! It has been four decades since her first album was released.

Carrie regularly sang in hotels and clubs around the San Fran area in the ’70s. A project rooted in love, her Looking Up album was arranged, recorded, and produced by Carrie and her husband, Bill, in their backyard studio. The track Love Will Set You Free, in particular, is beautiful.

Now, Carrie Cleveland is BACK! She has a new music video and is singing publicly again.

Her song Love Will Set Your Free is even featured in Season 1, Episode Two, of the Netflix series Glitter, a drama set in the ’70s. So cool.

Here is my interview with the music legend.

Interview with Carrie Cleveland

Her son, Heston Cleveland, was great at coordinating the interview between his mom and I. Heston is shown in the top photo with his mom Carrie. Let’s get to my interview with Carrie Cleveland, starting with my first question for her, about why she took time away from the industry.

After taking decades away from the music industry, you are back! Please share why you took time away from music.

I was never really coming back. The reason why I stepped away from music is because a Black woman bandleader didn’t really get any respect in the industry at that time. Even the people in my band demanded more from me. I booked all the jobs, and they started to disrespect me and ask for more money.

That’s terrible. What inspired you to release songs again?

Well, after Kalita Records reached out to my son Heston, we started getting interviews, and the same question came up. Are you going to sing again?

We went out to support another artist, and we met K.E. Dorham, the owner of Black Noval Entertainment. He asked if could he produce some new music for me. That’s what started it all back.

I’m so glad you’re back. The 1970s was a very different time in music than today. What are you noticing?

It was very hard getting music to be heard back in the ’70s., You would have to go to the radio station and put money in the disc jockey’s hand for them to play your music. Now, you can just send it via email to all the independent radio stations, [which] makes it so much easier.

I love your new video for High Beams with Black Nova! What surprised you most as you made that video?

LOL my son and I didn’t have anything to do with it. He just kept listening to us share our story, and he arranged everything.

Here’s the video:

What has been the public reaction so far to that video?

All the people, as far as I know, love the video. Like I said before in the last answer, it’s my story.

Your son Heston is very involved in your career. How do you stay so close to your family?

That’s all on him. He tells me, ‘my mother and father loved each other and shared the common love of music. And he loves us, so he wanted to share our music and story [with] the world.’ That’s a quote from him.

When you feel overwhelmed, what centers you?

Baking pastries and singing. Mostly baking, LOL.

Who inspires you?

The people who inspired me the most are people like Marilyn McCoo, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Beyoncé, and my son Heston. He really makes me proud, he’ll stop anybody and tell them.

Connect online with Carrie via her song Heston Cleveland

Reach out to Carrie Cleveland through her son. Heston Cleveland kindly shares his email for direct inquiries:

Also, find Heston Cleveland on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Carrie Cleveland, Heston Cleveland
Carrie Cleveland and her son Heston, on the set of High Beams music video. Photo used with permission of Heston Cleveland.

Where to find Carrie Cleveland’s music

Find songs on all popular platforms. Carrie Cleveland’s music is on Spotify, YouTube, Deezer, Apple, and Pandora.

An expanded version of Looking Up, her 1978 album, is now available. The vinyl reissue from Kalita Records includes the expanded album and interview-based liner notes, plus a 7-inch single as an extra. It’s a celebration of her music career.

Keep impressing us, Carrie Cleveland!

A few last words from Carrie Cleveland

Never give up on your dreams. We are living examples of that, 45 years in the making.


Top photo: Singer Carrie Cleveland. Photo used with permission of Heston Cleveland.

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