Growing her solo career through community support
By Mira Brody EBS STAFF
BOZEMAN – When Marcedes Carroll took to the virtual stage at Friday Afternoon Club on April 16, armed with just her voice and a guitar, she captivated fans—old and new—from across the country. The light shining in from the window behind in her home studio matched the atmosphere she was bringing into people’s homes.
A Belgrade native, Carroll picked up her first guitar at age 15 when she and her best friend began learning chords from the pastor at their church. They would play at Sunday service and on holidays. After a brief hold on her musical career to finish high school and college, she picked it back up upon moving to Bozeman in 2013. She began volunteering at Live at the Divide, an intimate venue just northeast of Downtown Bozeman, which later turned into a paid position.
“Through this work I learned a lot about sound technology, venue operation and the music business,” Carroll said. “What I was mostly interested in however was learning songwriting, performance and how to grow my skills as an artist.”
At an open mic one night, she met a group of friends with similar music interests and goals and formed a band, “Drink Me Pretty.” They drove from business to business asking them if they could use their space to play and gain an audience. Although they disbanded in 2016, Carroll learned a lot from those years, and was armed with the tenacity and skillset to peruse a solo career in music.
She got her start thanks to a residency program at The Gravel Bar in Ennis and some gentle urging from Mandy Rowden, a friend, mentor, and musician and songwriter from Texas. He calls her time at The Gravel Bar a “game changer” for her performance since she learned a lot about stage presence, sound and creating a poignant set list. In 2019, Carroll launched a kickstarter to fund her first album and toured around Montana and Texas.
“That was an experience that really helped me grow before going into recording,” Carroll said.
She was able to work with a plethora of local musicians including: Isaac Carroll, Tony Polecastro, Chelsea Hunt, Rick Winking, Levi Main, Doc Wiley, Mason Tuttle, Tom Murphy, Ethan Decker, Krista Barnett, Alaina Gordon, Hannah Clemenson, Tyler Schultz and her little brother Luke Simonson.
“It was a great group of players to have on my first project—I was very lucky!” she said of her first album, “She’s Pretty, Vol. 1,” which was released in October 2019. Volume 2 was released the following year and fans can listen to both streaming on Spotify, Apple and Amazon Music.
“I honestly haven’t been able to support the project as much as I would have liked with the pandemic, like so many other artists,” Carroll said. “This year I am looking forward to supporting these records through the summer while preparing to get back to the studio to record a sophomore release. I have a handful of new songs I am excited to cut and get out to the world!”
This summer, in addition to working on her new album, Carroll is booking quite a few shows. You can find out where to catch her on her website, marcedescarroll.com.