Interview with Carolyn Kardinal – Part 2

December 1, 2009 at 5:52 pm 2 comments

She Writes Soulful Songs
with Words of Grace
An Interview with

Composer Carolyn Kardinal
Part 2

Read Part 1 of  Carolyn Kardinal’s interview

In Part 1, Carolyn Kardinal shared with us some of her process in writing both original Inspirational lyrics and music for her songs.  She also related how her experiences as a singer and a teacher of children and of voice students have deeply influenced and enriched her work as a composer and lyricist.  So let’s continue with the conversation…


JW: What inspires you?

CK:  One spring morning I walked outside to smell the freshness after a downpour and at that moment heard a meadowlark sing the most beautiful melody – actually I recognized the motive as something Alexander Dumas had used as a primary melody in his “Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” At first I laughed at the absurdity, but as I have thought about that experience I realize many composers have been sensitive to nature’s sounds and have incorporated them into their own works. So I became a better listener.

Both aural and visual beauty are things of heart. I find that inspiration comes from what I hear or see in nature, from something I read, or just from gratitude. Lately, I have become more and more aware of the kindness factor. You know what I mean: When a motorist stops in the middle of the street to let the duck family cross, or when someone holds the door open for you at the grocery store, or just a simple smile, or a hug, a child’s squeal of joy, or a thoughtful comment in the checkout line.

JW: Not only does that sound like a song you would write, but I realize that you already have written it!!  It’s called “Soul’s Perfection.” This is a beautiful “list” song that really captures your sense of what inspires you. (Please see my blog post on Soul’s Perfection.)

CK:  Thank you, Julia. I’m honored that you have performed this piece, and thank you for sharing your experience after the performance in your article.

For me, inspiration has to do with seeing through God’s eyes and then glorifying Him with my music. There is so much beauty to be grateful for! I can’t think of a better way of thanking God for the beauty and richness of life than to use the skills I have as a composer and lyricist.

JW: It seems to me that another way of saying that is to say that you are using and developing your God-given talents. You didn’t bury them for fear that they would be stolen or lost, but instead, you spent them – and they continue to develop and multiply – just like the parable of the talents found in the Bible.

CK: Actually, Julia, there was a time when I hid the talents under the bushel, so to speak. I was criticized (or so I thought) after singing one time, and after that I became terrified of using my voice, let alone singing one of my own songs. I used to become physically ill before a performance, so I quit singing for over a decade. Although I attempted to write lyrics and compose music during that time, it was as if there were a huge vacuum, sucking up the talent and scattering it all over. No focus. One day, my Dad said, “Carolyn, you have an ego problem.” As I pondered that statement, and prayed about it, the First Commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” popped into mind, and I realized I had to let go of “self” and express more love. I was completely healed of self-consciousness and never again experienced any side effects of nerves. The best part was that mental focus also returned so I could again write meaningful lyrics and music.

JW:  What a beautiful healing.  You just explained how spirituality plays a constant role in your life.  Would you expand that to share how you think specifically about spirituality in relation to your music?

CK: All of us are innately spiritual. As we move on in our experiences, we often find that expressing that spirituality is highly important. When I was first trying to find my niche in the music world, I tried my hand at writing “pop” songs. What I discovered was that I got mired in the negative emotions which often prevail in those songs. The result of my writing was not only mundane, but mediocre at best.

As I learned to listen to God’s directing and to play off those God-given ideas which resulted from quiet meditation, I discovered that my music must reflect the values and philosophy I have developed over the years – you know, “to thine own self be true.”

My desire to love and glorify my heavenly Father far outweighs any desire for fame, stardom, or notoriety. I’m just grateful to have learned enough to share the music with others.

JW: So in essence, you found your niche. Many people spend their whole lives trying to find what they are good at or what it is they are supposed to do.

Carolyn, do you have a favorite song listed from your catalogue on I know – that’s like asking a painter “What’s your favorite color?” But in case you do have a favorite what is it?

CK:  First, let me say that I thoroughly enjoy listening to the variety of music which has been presented through Watchfire Music. There are many fabulous songs, but I particularly love your album “Upon the Mountain.” I believe Peter Link to be a very gifted composer, arranger, and producer, for every one of the songs on the album is set and performed with exquisite beauty.

One song, “Where were You” written by Peter and sung by you, really moved me to think more in the context of our spiritual “history”, and as a lyricist, any change of perspective is appreciated and reflected in my own works.

“The Garment” was the outcome of that kind of paradigm shift.

JW: Well, thank you for your response to Upon The Mountain and in particular, “Where Were You.” Peter is always thrilled to know when a piece of his has an impact. (And so am I!)  Your response to “Where Were You” is such a wonderful illustration of how creativity and inspiration can come to us. Would you tell us a little more about how this fresh perspective informed “The Garment?”

CK:  Sure. Peter’s lyrics put me into a thought-mode to ponder the “what ifs”. What if I had lived in Jesus’ time? So, I put myself into the place of the woman who followed Jesus through the crowd just to touch him. Many of the descriptive words I used were from a subjective viewpoint. For instance, “She humbly came behind him, jostled by the pressing mass” and “desperately she reached out” and “tears of relief and joy”, all are from a very personal perspective. I still ponder the “what ifs” and wonder, would I have been a Martha or a Mary? No need to pursue that line of thinking now, but you get the idea.

JW: I sure do get the idea! I ponder those same “what if’s” all the time as a performer of the lyrics and music that flow out of folks like you. Your music and the creative thinking that produced it lead me to my explorations of how to express and interpret your ideas. What a grand adventure no matter what perspective we are coming from!

Carolyn, thank you for sharing with us your thoughts and experiences. We are going to finish here with my favorite closing questions borrowed from James Lipton, (Inside The Actor’s Studio):

What profession would you choose to do if you weren’t in music?

CK:  I have been a teacher, a realtor, a mortgage broker, a salesperson, and a horsetrainer. I have climbed mountains, played in symphony orchestras, sung in choirs and as a soloist, and have lobbied for the environment. Now, I think I might be happy if I had a chance to be a pilot – just to soar.

JW:  What profession would you NEVER do?

CK:  Did you ever see the TV show “Dirty Jobs”? Well, that’s a start. Actually, I would never want to be a stockbroker or to be caught up in anything that would play upon my own or anyone else’s greed, lust, hate, deception, etc.

JW: Any summary comments?

CK:  I am grateful for this opportunity to express a little of what makes me tick.  For those of you who read all the way through this interview, let me leave you with just a thought:

Each of us has a purpose to fulfill while we’re here in this state of being. If you can figure out how to best serve the spiritual needs of your fellow humans, be it through song or sermon, art or architecture, prayer or teaching, remember the foundation is love. Gather your energy from that love and let it spread, like the ripples in a pond when a pebble is cast in, to the farthest shore. Be the transparency.

JW: Thank you, Carolyn. Truly you live your lyrics and your music. Thank you for sharing your inspiration with us.

Find out more about Carolyn Kardinal
Explore her sheet music and mp3s.

Read Part 1 of  Carolyn Kardinal’s interview


The Garment
Music and Lyrics by C. Kardinal

She humbly cam behind Him, jostled by the pressing mass.
She knew if she could touch Him, her healing would come to pass.

Desperately she reached out to touch the garment’s hem,
To partake of the anointing of Christ whom God had sent.

As her hand reached out and brushed the cloth, Jesus perceived her troubled
soul, And he gently spoke, “Be of good comfort. Thy faith hath made thee

Tears of relief and joy flowed from her grateful eyes.
In that instant she was healed, for Truth could not be disguised!

She went her way rejoicing, no longer enslaved, but free.
Just as the blind man had been healed, now she, too, could see.

From this pilgrim’s story comes hope for all who are oppressed.
If we may but touch the garment of Truth, we, too, shall be blessed.

Copyright 2009 C. Kardinal


About Carolyn Kardinal

Carolyn Kardinal’s musical roots are planted firmly in classical music, having studied with composer Alexander Lee Frick, a former student of Samuel Barber. She also studied voice with Maestro Franco Iglesias. After obtaining a degree in Music Education, Carolyn began her career as a teacher. She also taught herself guitar and piano, and began writing songs and musical plays for her students to perform.

Eventually combining all of her talents, Carolyn turned to writing sacred songs which she performed and recorded, and has since made numerous CDs. As these CDs were distributed around the country and abroad, Carolyn began receiving reports that her lyrics and music were having a healing effect on many listeners. Performers and audience members alike continue to find her songs to be fresh and inspiring.

Main Street in Historic Gresham by DeEtte Fisher


Inspiratus Interview by
Julia Wade,
Director of Digital Sheet Music

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Entry filed under: Church Music, Inspiration, Inspirational Music, Inspirational Poetry, Inspirational Sheet Music, Inspiratus, Inspiratus Interviews, Sheet Music, Spiritual Thinkers. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Wendy Rose  |  April 2, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Thank you so much for this interview. I found I was choosing a lot of Carolyn’s solos for our church services and I wanted to learn more about her. It isn’t easy to write solos that have meaningful (not sappy) lyrics along with lovely melodies, but Carolyn seems to have found the right mix. I appreciate the contemporary feel of her music with its strong classical roots.

    • 2. juliawade  |  April 2, 2014 at 1:08 pm

      Hi Wendy,
      I’m so glad you found Carolyn and her music! Thanks for your comments and so happy to know that you are singing her songs! I know that she’ll be thrilled!


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