by Hannah Gray
When you think of Atlanta, what comes to mind? Coca-Cola and hip-hop are obvious, but what about a thriving singer-songwriter scene? Nashville, Los Angeles and New York City are typically the big three music markets and cultivators of talent, though according to local artist Kara Claudy, those places have nothing on the community fostered here.
A transplant, Claudy has lived in Atlanta for just eight years. With a father in the United States Marines and a mother from Korea, Claudy is proud of her “military, transient” upbringing. But after a childhood spent in places as far off as Okinawa, Japan, and as all-American as the Midwestern state of Indiana, she is finally getting used to staying still. “Atlanta is absolutely home, and I’ve put roots down here — I’ve actually lived here longer than anywhere else now.”
She wasn’t always completely invested in the music scene here, though. It wasn’t until about two years ago that Claudy left her corporate job in favor of a part-time one more suited to pursuing her musical career, and about a month ago she finally left that. And what a good month it was. At the end of February, Claudy won Eddie’s Attic Open Mic Night (or rather, tied, as she shared the crown with San Francisco duo Quiles and Cloud), a feat pretty spectacular considering she had only been a full-time artist for about a week.
Since fully committing to her singing and songwriting career, Claudy has immersed herself in the music community here, describing it as a scene where, “there is no cut-throat competition, there’s no feeling of an edgy, weird jealousy.” She goes on to say how “if your heart’s in the right place and you show people that you’re doing what you love and you’re going to work hard, people will really step up and partner with you.” A sense of comfort and support is imperative to artists in any stage of their career, and according to Claudy, the musicians themselves are not the only ones aware of this necessity in Atlanta.
Claudy credits Eddie’s Attic and its open-mic-night host, Matt Arnett, for fostering an incredible notion of community — a word and feeling she references often but genuinely. For Claudy, a network of musicians, studios, producers and venues that exist to exercise passion and promote each other is what makes Atlanta so wonderful. She is effusive when commending her peers. “There’s just so much talent, and particularly in the singer-songwriter space,” Claudy says, though she is particularly pumped about the sisterhood found here. “It’s been really cool for me to build relationships with women who are coming up in this scene.”
Her pride for her peers is obvious, but her pride in herself is less apparent. Maybe it is because she’s so brand new as a full-time artist and is tentative to embrace such rapid success, or maybe she is just incredibly humble (it’s most likely a little bit of both). “I honestly was so surprised, that when Matt called me up as a finalist my guitar case was in the outside room because I was sure there was no way I’d be playing again,” she remembers. Eschewing the comfort of playing her already released tracks, Claudy chose to showcase three brand new songs, one of which was only about two weeks old.
Her wildish bravery is shaping up to define her as a performing artist, though her songwriting is more comfortable and inspired by the everyday. A resident of the Westside, Claudy’s house looks over the rail yard, a place where she finds a deluge of musical inspiration: “It’s just this ever-changing landscape and it springs up for me just how connected we all are. There are different trains everyday and it gets my imagination going in terms of like, ‘What’s on the train?’ ‘Where are these trains going?’ ‘Where are they going to be tomorrow?’ ‘What’s the rail yard going to look like tomorrow?’ — that gets my creative juices flowing.” It’s quite clear community is everything for Claudy. From the artists she collaborates with to the people who hear her songs, a sense of togetherness drives her music and her career. It also drives the music scene in Atlanta. After all, it is Atlanta that inspires her and it is Atlanta that propels her forward.