Singer, writer Nedra Carroll comes home
• Mother of Jewel Kilcher to give Homer concert Dec. 12
By Naomi Klouda
Lenedra Carroll, a proud progeny Homer can claim for its own, sings quite a different song from her famous daughter Jewel. And though her sound has been heard the world over, Carroll said it’s time for her to give a Homer concert.
“Beyond Words,” the name of a CD collection of Carroll’s music, was metaphorically described by a U-tube fan as, “buckets of rain, buckets of tears, buckets of sunbeams in your hands.”
Hauntingly beautiful, her music defies tight description.
Carroll, known as “Nedra” to friends and relatives in Homer, explores a song style that might be described as East Indian, though that won’t completely cover it. As she describes her own growth in music, its emergence stemmed from the chanting sounds, the feel of singing as one feels it in the throat, in the body and its corollary impact on well-being.
“As I was listening to chants from all over the world,something in that a cappella sound gave me a holographic experience. I knew what really interested me in sound was the effect of the music on the human being,” Carroll said. “I was singing by myself and felt it in my body … I moved into an ecstatic style of singing. That was not pop style. It was a thing that called to me.”
Photo provided - Lenedra Carroll
From 1993-2003, Carroll managed and developed her daughter’s music career. At the same time, she is known in her own right, as a musician and author of “The Architecture of Abundance.” She has sung at the Vatican for Pope John Paul III, and at the Nobel Peace Conference in Oslo, Norway. “Beyond Words” is heralded by the likes of Gloria Steinem, Alice Walker, and Deepak Chopra.
Created with fellow musician, composer, guitarist and performer Ralf Illenberger, “Beyond Words” was described by Steinem as a collection that soothed and uplifted her.
“Lenedra’s stunning vocals combine with Ralf’s lush guitar virtuosity to create a simple and spontaneous combustion that is, indeed, beyond words, beyond genre, and beyond wonderful,” Steinem said.
“It has been wonderful to help Jewel. My own music never had anything to do that,” she said. “I never was interested in a popular expression to the masses.”
Carroll said the opportunity to do her own music “grew out of how my world and path were changing.”
The concert, billed as “music and prose with a dash of theatre,” is set for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Bunnell Street Gallery. Two other events previous to the concert are planned to celebrate Carroll’s homecoming, including a talk and potluck dinner Dec. 9 and a workshop on Friday, Dec. 11. The public is invited to bring a dish of finger foods to share for a community dinner at 7 p.m., following Carroll’s 6 p.m. talk.
Carroll came home to be with her mother, 88-year-old Arva Carroll, about six weeks ago. Though this is the first Thanksgiving at home she can recall in a number of years, she credits her Homer upbringing for keeping her centered throughout her life.
Photo provided - Grandmother Minie Carroll, pictures here with Nedra, and two of her brothers was photographed in Seward in the 1950s just prior to the family move to Homer. Minie lived in Fairbanks originally.
“My parents, Arva and Jay Carroll, homesteaded in the late ‘30s, early ‘40s in the Fairbanks area on a little island in the middle of the Yukon River,” she wrote to the Homer Tribune in an e-mail. “My father followed his older brothers there from Utah. Later, as trappers in Southeast’s Wrangell Island, they lived in a tiny cabin with a dirt floor. When I was a baby, my family moved to Seward where my father designed and built the electric transformer station there and then managed the electric company. It was in Seward also that he built an airplane and taught himself to fly it.”
Jay Carroll was badly bitten by the bush pilot bug, his daughter recalled. He used his savings to buy Homer Air and the family moved to Homer when she was 8 years old.
“I have wonderful memories of those earlier years in Homer, fishing up on Clearwater at the head of the Bay, landing on beaches, fields, and glaciers with my dad as he delivered the mail and supplies to the many isolated homesteaders in the area,” she wrote.
Many adults now might remember Arva, who was manager and head cook for the school cafeteria for 15 years beginning in the late ‘50s. She provided nutritious homestyle meals to several generations of Homer school children.
“I’m sure many still remember Arva’s famous cinnamon rolls,” Nedra said.
At the age of 88, Arva still lives here in Homer. Caring for her mother has kept Carroll here for six weeks, with no date set for leaving. She is spending time with extensive family including three brothers, JJ and Diana Carroll, Glen and Jeanne Carroll, and AlRay and Colleen Carroll. She said she is also spending time with former husband, Atz Kilcher and his wife Bonnie, as well as son Atz Lee Kilcher and wife, Jane.
“When it became clear I could manage an extended stay, friends suggested arranging a sort of meet and greet with the community and that idea grew into three exciting events with Bunnell Gallery,” Carroll said.
Carroll said for years she has admired the work of the Bunnell Street Gallery and its director, Asia Freeman.
“It’s an opportunity for me to reconnect with old friends, meet new ones, and share my journey,” Carroll said. “Though I’ve traveled much of the world, met kings and queens and presidents, and worked on the world stage, so to speak, it really is the frontier creativity and simple values of this small town that have always inspired my life.”
Before the Dec. 9 community potluck, Carroll said she plans to speak for about 45 minutes about her experiences.
She describes her plans for the workshop as being about “brainstorming and barnstorming.”
“For those who do join me, I want to know who you are, what you are doing, what you feel the world needs and how I and others can support you in that,” she said. “We will share, plan, open and sing together and those who choose to can join me in several songs in my concert later that next evening.”
To hear samples of Lenedra Carroll’s music, go to: youtube.com/watch?v=YdtKp9lqVng