All signs point to Nashville

Teenage country music singer Carly Brooke says goodbye to her Beech Grove hometown

In June, for CMA Fest in downtown Nashville, Carly Brooke for the first time was a scheduled performer at  Tootsies Orchid Lounge, and at Rippy’s Bar & Grill. *Submitted photo.

When Carly Brooke Lancaster got her first taste of Nashville, she was hooked. The 11-year-old aspiring country music singer vowed that she would live in that legendary, musical city someday.

Four years later and that day has come. Carly, 15, will leave her Beech Grove hometown for Nashville on July 28.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Carly said. “This is all I’ve ever known. All my friends are here. All my family is here. Everything is telling me it’s okay to move on, go on and start our lives in Nashville. That’s a relief. I would hate to think that there was anything still here for me that I’d be missing out on. It’s really exciting.”

Carly received her first guitar at four years old. At 8 years old, she competed for the first time, under her first and middle name, Carly Brooke, at the Marion County Fair. She won that competition with a Sugarland cover. She continued that victory streak at the fair four years in a row. That advanced her to the Indiana State Fair competition, in which she took third place.

At 11, she began singing monthly at Teddy’s Burger Joint on Southport Road. It’s also the year she first ventured to Nashville. The second year in Nashville, Carly was thrown on stage at Tootsies Orchid Lounge, deemed a world-famous honkey-tonk, and got to perform at the Opry Mills Mall.

Carly Brooke at age 7 has just bought her first “real” Yamaha guitar from Guitar Center. She sat in the office at the Greenwood location.

Her singing career continued to grow, from winning the talent competition at Carmel Fest to performing the National Anthem at the local Little League, to Indians, Pacers and Colts games. She has sung monthly at the Stacked Pickle in Southport and recently added the Greenwood location. Her brother, Cole, often plays the bass guitar during her shows. More information on her career can be found at carlybrookemusic.com.

The Lancaster family has looked into moving to Nashville for the past four years and the timing is finally right. Carly’s father, Colin, travels for his career and Nashville is a more centralized location for him. The entire family will relocate, including Carly’s parents, Colin and Stacey and siblings, Cole (19) and Clay (13).

In June, Carly Brooke performed at the Opry Mills Mall again, where she started performing at the young age of 11.

For Carley, it’s a dream come true. She spent some time there in June, attending the CMT  Music Awards, getting to watch today’s best country musicians, and performing during CMA Fest. For the first time, she was a scheduled performer at Tootsies, Rippy’s Bar & Grill and Opry Mills Mall.

“It’s neat to go in those places and see where she was,” Stacey said. “The difference between 11 and 16 is quite a difference… This is the part of Carly Brooke that we’re excited about. She’s sang everywhere. We know she can sing. But to watch her grow as an artist now, and how I find myself humming a song – she’s on to something here. I’ve feel like Nashville is going to put that next piece of the puzzle together.”

Carly performs a lot of country covers, but has begun to add in her own music. She has always considered herself a songwriter, but it wasn’t until recently that she found her own unique sound.

“I’m very critical, perfectionist to the maximum when it comes to writing,” she said. “I want it to be perfect. I don’t want to have any regrets on anything. A lot of the songs I was first writing, I felt they were good but they sounded like what is already out there. I don’t want to write songs that just blend in. I want to bring something entirely new to the table. I’ve always been influenced by old, classic country: Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams. Now I listen to a lot more jazz and some blues. Now when I’m writing, I can hear every instrument the way I want it to be when I go to record it. I remember I wrote that first song that I was like, this is perfect. It’s exactly where I want it to be. I finally found my sound. It’s always been there. I just needed the time to bring it out.”

Carly ended her time in Beech Grove with a performance at Stacked Pickle, and one more National Anthem at the Indians’ game. She intends to return to the Southside to visit family and for some gigs, such as the Marion County Fair where it all started, and Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church’s Oktoberest, Sept. 29 and 30.

Having been homeschooled for the past year, Carly will return to school for her sophomore year in Nashville. She doesn’t plan to perform quite as much during her time there, instead focusing on networking and recording her first album.

“That city is embodied by music,” Stacey said. “It’ll be amazing for her to be able to go to the shows. It’s normal Nashville activities. You can be downtown in front of live music all of the time. I think it will inspire her even more.”