MEET ROREY CARROLL - Compressed down to tabloid headlines, the early life and times of Rorey Carroll could pass for the tale of a girl gone bad. Rorey was born in Chicago into a middle class family. She dropped out of college and headed out of town, living in her car, hopping freight trains, and walking the entire Appalachian Trail by the time she was twenty years old. Rorey busked for change playing music from the subways of New York City to the streets of Ohio. Living on the streets wore her down and playing music lifted her up. She was bi-coastal, part of the Asheville, North Carolina Bluegrass scene and living in Humboldt County California, part of the local marijuana industry trimming plants. Rorey Carroll was busted in Arkansas transporting twenty-seven pounds of weed, and found herself convicted of a felony at twenty-six years old. Music finally won the battle for her soul when she landed in East Nashville, Tennessee.
Life is never really like the headlines that draw in moth-like readers with printed flames. Rorey Carroll did not set out for a life of criminal activity. She answered a call.
Rorey Carroll (RC): I always felt there was something out there. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. There was an urban culture scene in Chicago but I never felt stimulated by the music available. My family traveled a lot when I was young, so I got to see the country. I dropped out of college after a year and a half. I hiked the Appalachian Trail and I got to meet people, good people, and I got a glimpse at other lives. I did a short stint traveling with the Rainbow Gathering. Once you find those type of people it opens you up to who you are.
The Alternate Root (TAR): East Nashville has been a spiritual hub for musicians, Is that what drew you there?
RC: No. What took me to East Nashville was a friend I had living there who had space for me to park my RV. I had that spiritual awakening in Philadelphia. We couldn’t find a place to stay and we had to look for a spot sleeping on the street. We found a place but were chased out by a homeless guy. We found a Unitarian Church and thought that would be a good place to set up. We figured they were a lot friendlier than other religions. This was a very urban environment but there was a patch of grass right near the front steps of the church. We woke up to the pastor standing over us. He said it was okay that we were there but he wanted to warn us that in a couple of hours, a few hundred people would be walking by. We didn’t even know that it was Sunday. He told us we could come inside and get cleaned up, get something to eat. That experience was my spiritual moment. More like I knew I had to get my shit together and needed to do other things with my life.
TAR: And living in East Nashville helped you get a record label and a tour.
RC: I knew Vince (Herman) from Leftover Salmon. I knew him from Colorado. He was in Great American Taxi with Chad (Staehly). Chad said he thought I would get along with Todd Snider, who he was playing with in Hard Working Americans. I met Todd, who liked my music. It was a real natural fit between us. Todd signed me to his record label, LoHi Records. We are going out on tour together, with our first show at the Ryman to celebrate Todd’s fiftieth birthday.
Rorey Carroll will release a concept of her experiences as a debut album, Love is an Outlaw, on September 9, 2016.