A Songwriter at Heart: Carol Abair

Carol Abair at Big Heavy World Story and Photos by Kurstin Reuschel, Editor

I had only spoken with Carol Abair once before on the phone; she had a melodic voice filled with enthusiasm. Her excitement couldn’t be ignored as we scheduled an interview.

I was zooming around the Big Heavy office as the time of the interview neared, wanting to make sure I didn’t forget anything before she arrived. As Eric Zawada (also on the BHW crew) and myself prepared, we heard someone climbing the stairs. Carol brightened the room as she came in, her black patterned dress flowing to the rhythm of an overworked fan that was meant to cool down the uncomfortably hot room. As she sat on the infamous “interview couch” she opened herself to us and began her story.

As she fiddled with her eyeglasses and her auburn hair, I asked if we could see her guitar. She was quick to open her case and dazzled Eric and I with the instrument. I felt I had no choice but to ask if she could play us a little tune. She was hesitant at first but propped her guitar up and began tuning. Her foot started tapping, and off she went. She sang to us the only song she sings on her new CD, 'Voices of Friends'. The song was named "I’ve Heard Them Talking."

When asked what it’s like to be a musician in Vermont, and performing in public. Carol responded, “Well, I’ve been little-known as a musician in Vermont up until now, because well, basically, I have only been singing my songs and writing my songs for family and friends and special events. A lot of people think, "How come she is doing this now?"”

Carol was recently a finalist in the Vermont State Song Contest, with her song, "My Home is Vermont," which brought her regional recognition. Jim Lockridge added another of her songs, "My Only Son," to a compilation CD put out by the Big Heavy World record label. The song was written about the first Vermont soldier to die in Iraq. The domino effect continued when someone from the Times Argus honored it as the song of the year with their Tammy Award.

“I always said I was going to get a Grammy, but I got my Tammy. So that’s why I’m doing this now,” she said with a big smile, as she answered her own question.

Coming from a large Burlington family, Carol explained to us how she has been writing songs ‘for forever and a day.’ About ten years ago, Carol decided to become more serious about her music, also clarifying to me that it was just as serious when she would perform and write for family because it was such a large family. Her music would fill rooms for ‘weddings, funerals and babies being born.’ Becoming more public was just a logical step; the radio just didn’t do it for her and the thought of ‘I can do better than that,’ was always biting at her.

“I wanted to hear real people singing my songs. I am a songwriter, that is the true point,” but she was quick to add, “Although when I perform I have a ball and I keep thinking that it’s something I don’t want to do but it’s just so fun.”

As for the future of Carol’s music, she hopes to get good reviews for 'Voices of Friends' and do a possible acoustic tour around Vermont, “…and of course have a hit, that’s all.”

To learn more about Carol or purchase 'Voices of Friends' you can visit her website at carolabair.com or the Vermont Music Library, vmls.org

Click to hear Carol Abair singing “I Hear Them Talking”