|Photo by Ryan Morrill|
Surrounded by just some of her many awards,
Inchierchiera proudly shows off her newest addition.
Standing on the same stage where the Country Music Awards were recently held at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Carmella Inchierchiera, 65, of Little Egg Harbor was named country female songwriter of the year last month at the Josie Music Awards, the largest awards event ever held in Nashville for independent music artists.
The local songwriter has won more than 40 awards throughout her career. Six were for songwriter of the year from various national and global radio stations and associations, including two from Fishing Country Now and Cowgirl Divas Radio also received this year.
“But this was the biggie,” she said. “It just shows that even though you don’t perform you can still get your music out there.”
Influenced by the country music she listened to growing up while her father worked as a truck driver, Inchierchiera began writing poetry at 16 years old that many people told her seemed more like song lyrics. But it wasn’t until 2008, when she contacted Nelson Blanchard for a demo for her song “Mama Can Drive This Big Truck Too,” that her career in songwriting really took off.
“It blew me away,” Inchierchiera said. “I could not believe the vocals and harmonies. I was in tears. Every time I get a demo back from him it’s like Christmas.”
Blanchard began playing in clubs at 10 years old with The Richard Brothers and now performs with Louisiana’s LeRoux. He’s worked with many other big-name artists, including Kenny Rogers, Sammy Kershaw, The Goo Goo Dolls and Britney Spears, to name a few.
Since connecting with Blanchard, Inchierchiera's songs have been performed by well-known artists such as country singer Tareva Henderson, hall of fame fiddler Larry Franklin and “Scooby-Doo” voiceover Scott Innes.
Because Blanchard's expertise has helped Inchierchiera forge many musical relationships, she said she won’t work with anybody else.
“We gelled,” she said. “People call us the power duo.”
The two of them co-wrote “Fallen Heroes 9/11,” which was nominated for the 2012 song of the year by the Independent Country Music Association. While the song resonates with many people across the country, it also has special meaning for Inchierchiera since her husband, Paul, is a certified 9/11 survivor. Paul was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma after working for the New York City Department of Sanitation during the 9/11 attacks.
“They were bringing in debris there, and it was all over the trucks,” Inchierchiera stated.
Although follicular lymphoma is incurable, she said her husband’s cancer thankfully is in remission.
Another one of Inchierchiera’s popular songs, “Just Imagine the Storm,” which focuses on Superstorm Sandy, is dedicated to her late son, Genaro, who helped rescue 12 people as a volunteer in Staten Island during the storm. He passed away a year later while undergoing unrelated heart surgery.
During the aftermath of Sandy, “Just Imagine the Storm” reached No. 1 on the song charts.
Inchierchiera has had a 2½-year run on the Indie Music Network’s country and mainstream charts with a total of 17 songs, 14 of which made the top 10.
But Inchierchiera doesn’t typically make money off her songs. Rather, she does it for the joy it brings to her and other people’s lives as well as the experience she gets from working with so many different people.
“I have no interest in making a profit off my music,” said Inchierchiera. “I don’t believe I’d be as successful as I am if I had done it for money because I would be so wrapped up in money instead of making connections. I just love doing it. Everything inspires me. I do it for my fans, really.”
Inchierchiera has made several charity CDs to help raise funds for the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill as well as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, among others.
Her advice to others in the songwriting business is “promote, promote, promote.”
“When you think you’re done, start all over. You have to demo up as much as you can as best you can,” she urged, noting it’s much easier to get into the industry now that there are so many opportunities through the Internet that weren’t afforded to her when she was younger.
“Songwriters Two,” her latest CD co-written by Blanchard, will be available for purchase this month on iTunes.
To hear some of her songs, visit reverbnation.com/carmellainchierchiera.
— Kelley Anne Essinger
This article was published in The SandPaper.