The open road often serves as a real home for many musicians, and that has certainly proved true for nomadic singer-songwriter Caroline Cotter.
Born in Providence, R.I., in 1984, she began “rocking out in the living room by myself for hours” to the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour at the age of four, took piano lessons and tried the trumpet, started playing her brother’s guitar while in middle school, went to college and lived in Maine, then began traveling the world, spending time in 31 countries on five continents.
What was she seeking on a 15-year global journey that began as an English teacher in Thailand and included stops in India (studying yoga), France, Portugal, Spain and South America?
She describes it as “Peace of Mind”, the clever name for the lovely opening song from her new album Home on the River that will be released on 9 February.
I don’t want to know about / the mess this world is in
And I don’t want to to cry / or blame or say it’s such a sin
I don’t want to hear the shouts / of the left against the right
I just want some peace of mind
The music video of that song premieres today at PopMatters. Check it out here, then continue to discover more about Cotter, who participated in an email interview for this article.
Asked what specifically motivated her to write the song, one of nine on the album she wrote, Cotter replied, “I was trying to get clear on why I’m doing what I’m doing. What’s the purpose of all of this performing and traveling? What are my goals? What drives people down their path?”
The video, directed and edited by Nashville’s Stacie Huckeba, was shot at two locales. Huckeba handled the concept shoot on Dec. 29 in East Nashville, Tenn., where Cotter’s inner child tags along with her present-day self, and Beehive Productions took the live in-studio footage last February in Kansas City, Mo.
The performance segment was filmed during the album recording sessions and includes Cotter playing acoustic guitar with a group called the Sentimentals (M.C. Hansen, electric guitar; Nikolaj Wolf, bass; and Jacob Chano, drums).
The album, which Cotter produced with Jeff Oehler of Beehive Productions, is a follow-up to Dreaming as I Do, her 2015 debut, and was successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter. It includes a beautiful a cappella cover of Woody Guthrie’s “My Peace”, featuring her sweet soprano as the perfect bookend companion to “Peace of Mind”.
Cotter said she began performing “My Peace” at most of her shows in 2016 and 2017, adding it to her set list while collaborating with the Peace Flag Project, a nonprofit in her hometown of Providence.
After Donald Trump was elected president in November 2016 and Cotter was on tour across the pond, she said, “I felt inclined to respond to the reactions and events in the U.S. surrounding the election, especially as an American in Europe, and feel strongly about keeping my message positive. This song continues to resonate with me as I travel around the U.S. and I’m very grateful to Woody and Arlo Guthrie for sharing the offering with us.”
So Cotter continues to “work” on finding “peace with being on a journey and carrying my home with me”.
“It’s a practice that will probably continue for the rest of my life,” she said. As her interests in Buddhism, meditation, yoga and spiritual devotion developed, Cotter became “most inspired by the travelers that had made their lives into an educational exploration of the world.”
“Some of my richest life experiences, in particular, walking the Camino de Santiago in 2007 and again in 2011, helped me experience the freedom of owning very few possessions and the richness of sharing life with people from all over the world,” she added.
Seemingly content but still determined, Cotter likes where her magical mystery tour has gone while exploring all options. She has peace of mind these days, as she prepares for an album release tour that will take her to “some of my favorite communities across the U.S. and Europe,” hopefully through 2018 and beyond.
“I’m really happy pursing my music right now; connecting with all kinds of different people on a personal level through my music,” Cotter said. “I feel most grounded and at peace knowing that I’m doing what I feel called to do and making this dream my reality.”
Michael Bialas is a journalist and photographer who enjoys writing about entertainment and sports for a number of online publications, including and PopMatters and No Depression. Follow him on Twitter: @mjbialas