Carrellee is the name for the latest project from Wisconsin singer-songwriter Sarah Pray. With a voice reminiscent of Emmylou Harris, Beth Gibbons (Portishead), and Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star), Pray’s forthcoming EP, Kingdom, offers an understated meditation on love, life, and loss, weaving lyrical themes of melancholia and yearning into a gentle, harmony-laden Americana soundscape.
A native of Madison, Wisconsin, Sarah Pray first arrived in Minneapolis around a decade ago where she built a following at her weekly Linda Ronstadt tribute show at the historic 400 Bar. Joining forces in 2010 with lyrical folk songwriter Thomas Kivi (singing on title-track of Kivi’s debut Americana album, Crying Child), Pray spent the next three years on the road touring the U.S. and Europe as folk-duo Kivi & Pray (see their full-length Kivi & Pray album, Cornucopia). Pray took a hiatus from songwriting and performing between 2013 and 2016 when she moved to the St. Louis, Missouri, region to pursue her deep interest in the role of music and art in therapy and advocacy. She graduated with a Masters in Art Therapy and teamed up with St. Paul eating-disorder advocacy organization, The Emily Program Foundation, for her thesis on the roles of audio/visual recording, arts, and recovery.
While Pray performed only occasionally during these years, she describes it as a period of creative incubation and reflection:
"Even though I was falling away from my identity as a singer-songwriter, I was writing more songs than before. It felt easier because I was just writing for me, not as a songwriter but as a human asking those basic questions of ‘who am I?’ and ‘how do I feel?’ Changing to Carrellee is a fancy way of telling myself that, this time around, I don’t care what people think… or at least Carrellee doesn’t. It is a combination of the names ‘Carrel’ and ‘Lee,’ the two most important women in my life: my grandmother and my mother."
Now based in Madison, Wisconsin, Carrellee returns to the stage a mature, deeply reflective singer-songwriter. Carrellee’s debut EP, Kingdom, was engineered, mixed, and mastered by Jacob Detering at Red Pill Studios in St. Louis, Missouri, where alt-country band Son Volt recorded their latest release (Notes of Blue). Gold Ship Records—independent record-label based in Bristol, Tennessee—will release Kingdom for download on iTunes, Amazon, and other digital outlets on August 18th.