#StudyAbroadBecause without augments within

Kerry Dexter's picture

Kyle Carey has lived in Alaska, New England, Cape Breton, Ireland, Scotland, and New York. From these experiences, she is forging music she calls Gaelic Americana, a mix that draws on music of the Appalachian south and wider American folk story as much as it does on musical traditions of Ireland and, especially, Scotland. 

Kyle Carey: #StudyAbroadBecause without augments within

For Carey's first album, Monongah, she made this mix by choosing songs and influences for songs she wrote herself from traditions of the Appalachians, went to the Dingle peninsula in Ireland to record it with Irish musician Donogh Hennessy as producer, and included a song in Scottish Gaelic.. 

Being chosen for a writing retreat on the US Gulf Coast gave Carey time to work on original songs for her second album, North Star. In the original pieces, she creates stories, language, and music that draw on American and Celtic folk traditions. There is music in Gaelic on North Star, too. Carey went to Glasgow to record North Star, with Irish American musician Seamus Egan as producer. At this writing she working on her third album, which will no doubt be both as focused and as eclectic as the first two. She expects to start a Kickstarter campaign for this album soon, and  to release the recording in the autumn of 2017.

How did a child who spent the early years of her life in Native communities in the Alaskan bush as her parents taught school, went to secondary school in New England when the family returned there, and studied English literature at university in New York become a professional touring musician creating a genre that draws together Celtic and American folk music?

Study abroad had a good bit to do with that path. Listen to Kyle Carey's story about studying abroad.

Kyle Carey: #StudyAbroadBecause without augments within

What motivated your decision to go abroad? How/why did you choose where to go?
I first studied abroad when I was a junior at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. During my time there I became interested in Celtic culture, music, and languages, and decided that I wanted to find a specialized study-abroad experience. I ended up spending a semester at an institute for Celtic studies in Dingle, Ireland and then went up to Cape Breton, Canada the year following graduation to deepen my study of the Scottish Gaelic language. A year of full immersion in Gaelic on the Isle of Skye followed, and now as a professional international touring musician, my entire life is essentially one long study-abroad experience! 

What was your experience like? What is your favorite memory? What were some challenges you observed?
My first study-abroad experience in Dingle, Ireland was incredibly eye opening and fulfilling. We had Celtic studies classes every day in an old monastery, and by studying abroad in a small town, I felt like I really became a part of the community. One of my favorite memories is of participating in a week-long Irish music festival, west of the village of Dingle, that was conducted completely through Irish. I had the opportunity to learn Sean-nòs songs for the first time, as well as meet Irish-speakers from different regions of the country. 

In terms of challenges - I did battle with my fair share of loneliness, which is to be expected I think when one is living in a new country. The summer after my semester officially ended, I opted to stay in Ireland to further experience life in West Kerry. I was particularly lonely once my fellow-classmates returned to the States, but come my own departure, I was homesick at home for Dingle! 

What skills did you develop from your experience? Do you feel changed from your experience abroad?
Studying abroad has had an utmost impact on my life and my life's path. Studying abroad first in Dingle piqued and developed my interest in Celtic music, my time in Cape Breton on the Fulbright allowed me to further develop my knowledge of the Gaelic language, and my time on the Isle of Skye in Scotland allowed me to solidify it. Each of my study abroad experiences contributed to the sound of my music - which I call 'Gaelic Americana', and which draws on my American roots - but also contains elements of Cape Breton, Irish, and Scottish traditional musics. The sound is a direct expression of my life's journey, and is now how I sustain my 'livelyhood'! 

Kyle Carey: #StudyAbroadBecause without augments within

Has your experience helped you get to where you are today? 
Most certainly yes, and I would say the clearest example of that is the Scottish Gaelic element of my music. I always wanted to sing in Gaelic, but felt that if I didn't speak the language fluently, then I couldn't do that authentically. After my year on the Isle of Skye, and after Gaelic became a part of my life, I felt as though I had license to make it a part of my music. As I'm the only American artist who mixes Scottish Gaelic with the Americana tradition, I feel as though this combination has given me a unique edge, and greater recognition in the Celtic and Americana scenes in a relatively short period of time. 

What advice would you share with other students who are thinking of going abroad?
One thing I might tell students while looking at potential study abroad programs would be to explore the possibility of studying abroad in a smaller town or city. I think that in a large city it's easier to be 'swallowed' culturally, easier to band together with fellow Americans, and perhaps more difficult to seek out and experience what makes a specific country unique. Large cities are very international these days - and I feel as though by studying abroad in a small town, I gleaned a great deal from my exchange experience. 

How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity?
Due to the fact that I tour internationally so often, I feel as though in many ways I'm a 'citizen of the world' now more than an American, and that process and transformation began the first time I studied abroad. The experience became a part of my personal and artistic identity, and impacted how I viewed my own country, as well as the rest of the world. It was an invaluable introduction to how rich other cultures are, and how rewarding it can be to incorporate them into one's own personal narrative. 

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
I would love to share my music with those interested in studying abroad, and my website, which contains a longer biography and more information on my experiences living in different parts of the world: www.kyleannecarey.com

#StudyAbroadBecause without augments within


Our music editor for Wandering Educators, Kerry Dexter, caught up with Kyle Carey to speak with her about her study abroad experiences. You may reach Kerry at music at wanderingeducators dot com.

You may also find Kerry's work, mainly about music, the arts, history, and travel, in National Geographic Traveler, Perceptive Travel, Journey to Scotland, and other places online and in print, as well as at her own site Music Road


Photos courtesy and copyright The Wild Air Photography