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Louisville torch singer Carly Johnson's new video "Burn Your Fears" has quite a story behind it.

Carly Johnson

Carly Johnson is one of the most powerful singers in Louisville with a voice that can soar and belt with the best of the best. She's been busy working on a new album during the pandemic while pregnant with her first child. Now that's tough! The first song and video that was released today is called "Burn Your Fears" directed by Antonio Pantoja, and it has quite a story behind it. From Carly:

"I wrote "Burn Your Fears" for a dear friend of mine, Marisa Wittebort, shortly after she was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of lung cancer (ROS-1), as a 30 year old non-smoker. She really beat the odds and was able to live 4 full years after being diagnosed, but she passed away last November, just a month after being honored by the American Lung Association as a Lung Force Hero.

A few months after her diagnosis, Marisa told me the story of how she decided to embrace life going forward into the new year. She, her sister and her family watched as Marisa wrote down her greatest fears on tiny pieces of paper and threw them into a fire in their backyard. I was so inspired by her courage to face the possibility of these stark truths and by her choice to move forward and be wide open to the new path in front of her. This compelled me to write the song, “Burn Your Fears.”

I wrote the song as an anthem for her, in the sense that it's about facing something incredibly difficult in your life, allowing yourself to completely embrace and feel every emotion it brings your way and deciding to find beauty and live your life fully in a different way than you had planned. It's always had a universal theme to it that anyone living with trauma has been able to relate to, but now more than ever, it feels immensely poignant and even more relatable than before. Right now, we're all afraid, experiencing intense emotions and we're trying our best to navigate this new way of life within a pandemic; we're having to learn to find joy and beauty and live our lives in a different way.

Whitney Hall is so important. It represents a longstanding beautiful mecca of the arts in Louisville, and it's locally owned and supported directly by its patrons. At a time when music and the arts are really struggling, when Whitney Hall is sitting empty and the future is so uncertain, it feels like an impactful message to include the towering gorgeous hall as the background for new art being created---a new way for Whitney Hall to be showcased and seen by everyone who misses it. It's even more personal for me...I was on stage at WH with Teddy and the LO Friday March 13th, probably the last rehearsal that took place there before the shutdown...and I'm dreaming of when we all get to be back up there again.

The vision...The video would be simple in the sense that it's mostly just myself singing and playing piano in the middle of the WH stage to a massively empty house. But as the song continues, 4 string players gradually appear in the audience (very very spread out far apart from each other) and they pick up their instruments (viola, 2 violins, cello) when the strings start in my song and play from their seats. As the song builds, 3 ballerinas join the stage dancing around the piano (very very far apart from each other and everyone else).

What the viewer is experiencing during the video is a reflection of their feelings/emotions...the great big beautiful empty WH house--representing the loneliness we're all experiencing (and that many people have experienced through trauma), myself playing on stage despite being alone-- representing our strength as humans to continue and endure, the appearance of the string players and eventual ballerinas--representing humanity, hope for the future and a sense of community in our shared feelings as people."


Laura is the afternoon host from 3-6 pm weekdays. Email Laura at lshine@lpm.org