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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