About

Kelly is a pianist, recording artist, songwriter, and producer based in the Pacific Northwest. Although he has played a range of styles, the past several years he has been focusing in three main areas of interest: cinematic instrumental soundscapes, which he describes as “where new age, jazz, and electronica meet”, inspirational songs with positive life messages, and relaxing piano instrumentals suitable for any type of quiet time or retreat. He is passionate about peace, social justice and is always on the lookout for ways to make a difference. His mission is to establish a series of events that mobilize communities in celebration of music and the arts and to further the cause of peace, justice, equality, and prosperity.

Bio

by Wildy Haskell

Sometimes the thing you gave up for a lifetime of happiness comes around again.

This might be the perfect epitaph, in time, for Kelly Carpenter. A natural musician from childhood, Kelly was writing songs by the age of five, and performed live in various ensembles throughout his school years. After high school Kelly tried college, but one year in he walked away to pursue music full time. Along the way, he played in bands with some people who went on to have solid careers in the music business, but Kelly eventually returned to the safety and security of a college education. The path ahead was the American dream: A computer programming degree, a successful career, marriage to his best friend Merrilyn (30 years and counting), and music as an increasingly successful hobby.

Kelly also discovered a new depth to his spiritual life, and channeled his talents into worship music. This eventually led him to the Vineyard Church and a music community in the 1980’s and 1990’s that significantly influenced the popular revival of Contemporary Christian Music. His songs have been recorded by some of the biggest names in CCM, with “Draw Me Close” (Michael W. Smith, John Tesh, The Katinas, Kathy Troccoli) the biggest of them all. Kelly also did significant session work during this time, as music stayed an essential part of his personal essence.

In retrospect, it seems almost inevitable that Kelly Carpenter would one day be called back to music full-time. His inner voice began to exhort him in earnest in 2007 while working as a programmer for Microsoft and living a comfortable life. The Great Recession intervened the next year, however, and Kelly opted once again for the safety of a nine-to-five job. His muse wouldn’t be put off, however. A repetitive motion injury forced Kelly to take extended time off from work, and music filled the vacuum. Kelly finally found the courage to walk away and pursue his first love: music.

Jump forward to 2011, where Kelly has put the finishing touches on his first release in ten years, Passage. There are elements of new age, classical, jazz and pop woven into Passage, as well some of the dramatic sensibility found in modern worship music, but there’s a deeper connection in Carpenter’s work that is impossible to ignore. Passage is not your typical new age/pop effort. For one, Kelly doesn’t play by the rules, following wherever the muse leads even if the steps seem counterintuitive. There’s
an elemental feel to Kelly’s compositions; as if he weren’t so much writing pieces as channeling the very soul of the universe.

Kelly Carpenter was born to make music. He loves to make music. He practically dances to the universal motets he spins, circling around melodies like a child in the first moments of discovery. This pure joy and wonder pervades his compositions. It’s difficult to not get drawn into these moments; and impossible to deny the beauty and complex simplicity of his themes. Like all great composers, Kelly Carpenter lifts listeners above and beyond the moment; transporting the mind, the heart and the soul
into a world where the light is brighter and the colors more lush. Is this an experience you can afford to miss?

Written by Wildy Haskell

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Reviews

Inside World Music

The chilled and relaxing grooves of Kelly Carpenter’s piano playing combine elements of ambient rock with new age instrumental magic on his latest release, Passage. The adventurous “Summer Rain” takes on a life of its own with lush piano melodies and an ambient rock vibe that is wholly instrumental. The quick and short keys resemble falling rain. “A Distant Shore” seems more like an ode to Ireland with a pensive, yet emotive violin solo that only lasts thirty-seconds. “Whom Have I But You?” contains playful piano melodies and a little percussion to add some meat to the track. The fluttering electric sounds merge into an electric guitar medley that appropriately accompanies the piano. The rain and thunder noises of “Waiting” are accompanied by solo, meditative piano. “Saying Goodbye” contains a rousing and jazzy melody with light percussion and piano accompaniment with the unmistakable sounds of an electric guitar. This is probably the most ambient rock-type song on the album that encompasses a bit of blues and roots music thrown in. “Ascent” opens with bird sounds and a fast-paced piano with light percussion and atmospheric keyboards. “The View From Here” opens with spacey noises, atmospheric washes, and sparkling piano sounds before a little post-ambient rock guitar breaks the serenity. The last few tunes add a little more rock guitar, but it does not detract away from the new age nuances throughout. In fact, the rock guitar is a perfect addition to the instrumental music. If Passage is a journey, his piano is the vehicle. Fans of solo instrumental piano, new age and ambient rock will love it. Similar artists: Michele de Wilton, Danny Wright, and Al Conti.

Read original review here.

Culture Brats

Unrealistic as it may be I have an image in my mind of what it means to be a “grown up.” This image is purely out of the ’50s, (regardless that I wasn’t born anywhere near that era, some things you just inherit) and it involves hosting a dinner party, with beautiful settings, chic cocktail attire on all attending, soft yet intelligent music, and sophistication sprinkled liberally throughout.

According to my inner vision I have not quite achieved adulthood yet. I’ve made it through the beers and bar-b-que milestone with flying colors, but while we have attempted a few dinner parties they have not met my poor, preconceived notions. For one thing, I never seem to make it into a cocktail dress, just dust-spattered jeans, and I always panic about the music.

However, I think I’ve solved at least one of those problems.

Kelly Carpenter is best known for his devotional music, especially the song “Draw Me Close”.Passage is his second instrumental album, primarily piano and keyboard offset with a five piece ensemble. I am always hesitant when I approach modern instrumental music; it can go in so many directions, from very experimental to complete snooze, and I’ve always been more angst-driven in terms of musical preferences. (Which again, don’t work so well for dinner parties.) The songs on Passage are very melodious and pretty but they still have interesting hooks, ones that often very subtly grab your attention. What I also like aboutPassage is that each song has a definite narrative and tone. While there are shared thematic elements the songs do not blend into each other and together they tell a story as a whole. (Which I personally miss, since so many new releases are collections of singles rather than “albums.”) I really like the tracks “The View From Here,” “Distant Shore,” and “Reunion.” By the time I got to the end of the album I felt like it had lived up to its name and taken me on a journey. You could put this album on as background and it will make your brain work without you even realizing it, relaxing but with energy.

In essence, this is a CD I would put in for a dinner party. And I’d feel very grown up about it, too.

Read original review.

Think Jump Blog

Come take journey with me…

I lean back, close my eyes, open my ears, drink in the sounds… and very soon, I am surrendering my tension and anxiety to the Prince of Peace. Once surrendered, I am carried along in the ebb and flow waters of beautiful sonic soundscapes, skilful artistry and thematic hooks and progressions. I drift. Not aimlessly, but toward a grace-filled remembering that God is not limited to our ways. He holds the universe, the planet, the country, my family and even my day in His very capable and very caring hands.

How did I take that journey? What vehicle or route did I take for just such an adventure? Quite simply, I took this journey via a new “Passage” – the latest instrumental CD from singer/ songwriter/ musician Kelly Carpenter.

Using perfect sound beds, a gracious 5-peice core ensemble, and a light sprinkling of violin, Kelly Carpenter achieves a wonderful balance of ethereal space, melodic hooks and rhythmic structure that you are lifted almost effortlessly from our dense world of noise and confusion into another world of reflective and deepening peace.  Keyboard is primary, and brings center to this recording, but it is not agrandized against the better use of a more perfect sound for any single song. Occasionally, a swelling electric takes you buy the hand, then the drums walk you to the next section, but you never feel ripped or pushed or unceremoniously dumped from one musical context to another. It is all well envisioned, well planned and well executed.

While the entire track list of this peerless experience is new material, save one track, I couldn’t shake the feeling that all the tasteful riffing and discourse was warmly familiar.  Our first aural glimpse of the violin happens with the prelude and main section of the only covered song on this project- an instrumental version of the David Ruis classic “Whom Have I But You” anchors the early section of the album with perfect positioning. We don’t hear the violin return until track 11, and when it does, only subtly it glides us gently along, delivering us to the homestretch of this wonderful experience (into which tracks 12 and 13 are aptly named “Final Journey” and “Embrace”).

Because this album is something of an experimental journey, you would think that the result would feel ultimately lost. But nothing could be further from the result on this album. Passage succeeds at both projecting and reaching its target of enraptured peace through the transcendance of music. It also succeeds at making the journey without formulizing the route. You don’t arrive at the end of each song in the same time, groove, style or arrangement as you did from the previous song.

This project breathes of creativity, and settles for nothing less than artistic brilliance. After listening through it no less than 20 times, I love it even more now than the first time I listened. This is rarely the case with instrumental music, which often bores the attuned listener after a half a dozen plays.

I strongly encourage you to check out Kelly Carpenter’s wonderful new album, Passage.

See original review post.

Bio Bits

Things About Me

I like sunflowers.

I tend to be goofy.

I have been married to my best friend and life partner, Merrilyn, for over 31 years!

I am into music. Duh!

I used to drive a ’93 Toyota Celica GTS, loaded!
Well, my wife let me drive it on occasion.
(Now we’re looking at Beemers, hoping to find a nice used one without too many miles.)

I like to turn everything into an acronym. You could say I have “EAS”.

My parents are both still alive and have been married 68 years.

I just turned 55 and am not the least depressed about it.
Except that my body hurts more and that sometimes depresses me.

COFFEE IS THE ELIXIR OF THE GODS!!

Sarcasm is next to godliness. Or at least I hope so. Like, whatever…

I sincerely apologize to all I may have annoyed during rehearsals
because of all my shenanigans.

I was born in Walnut Creek, California.
Dwight Eisenhower was president. Paper towels had yet to be invented, but stereo LP records just started to be released.
(all important bits of information)

I have written a pretty famous song, “Draw Me Close”.

I’m increasingly uncomfortable with the label “Christian”.
I would rather be known to be a follower of Jesus.
I could write several articles on this, but am still formulating my thoughts.

Okay, let’s face it: I think I have been postmodern most of my life.
The clothes finally fit.

I find televised basketball tedious and boring.

Perhaps the Seattle Mariners will make it to the World Series before I die. Probably not.

I almost always have at least one song running through my head. But most of the time I have a mashup of two or three songs worming their way into my ear.

There is nothing like a good beer, unless it is another good beer.

I have fun playing with words, and especially with people’s names. Most people don’t mind and even enjoy the unique names I have for them. My best was for Nicole, “Ni-color-of-the-rainbow.”

I may not always be the sharpest tool in the cookie jar, but at least I’m difficult to work with.

I find D minor to be the saddest of all keys.

I know what you’re thinking: Why didn’t I choose the blue pill?

My favorite movie of all time is The Sound of Music.

I am a huge Sci-Fi fan. My favorite author is Robert Heinlein.

I have a profound culinary addiction to French Fries and Tortilla Chips. Salty carbohydrates but gluten free!