Carrie's Blog

Wake Up

November 16, 2014

Instinct and Intuition are powerful and unexplainable things.

I have spent the better part of my lifetime following their signals, making lofty goals for myself, having no idea how it would all work out, but no doubt that they would. 

As I started writing music,  the universe gave me all the signs that I needed to keep going. I would go places without a return ticket, not knowing where I’ll stay or end up, but trusting that as I follow the signs it would work out. And it did. I have spent years following signals, picking up clues, and unabashedly dreaming of castles in the sky, only to later, build the foundations under them. 

And somewhere along the way, I got scared. There wasn’t one moment that I can pinpoint where it started, but it is here, and it has been inside of me for sometime now. This thing called Fear that used to tempt me and look me dead in the eye, has slowly been paralyzing me. I used to think Fear was funny, a bit of a minx and a temptress, simply teasing me to go after what I wanted even more. 

But I don’t think fear is funny anymore. 

I’ve gotten in the habit of listening to the noise instead of the calm - to whoever is around me that seemed to have more knowledge than me, and even worse, to the voices in my head, that aren’t always as supportive as my friends. 

Instinct and Intuition are hard to hear now. They have gotten weak and I can barely recognize their voices. I’m not sure how to trust them, but I know I can’t leave them behind. They are always a part of me, but I think they are scared, too. Their fearless leader has gone missing. 

This weekend something happened that I can’t explain.  I am a light sleeper, and wake up easily and sleep with something on almost every night. It happened to be the one night where I didn’t turn on a noise machine. No one else was home when I fell asleep. It was quiet. And on Friday night at 4:40 am, I woke up from a dream about someone breaking into my apartment, to someone trying to break into my apartment.  He seemed to have no difficultly unlocking locks. He got through other multiple locked property doors, had picked the deadbolt of a personal outside enclosed gate to our back patio, and then was onto working on the deadbolt that led straight into my bedroom.

Something woke me. This man was not being loud at all and seemed to know what he was doing. I saw the smallest trail of a flashlight coming through the crack in the door and the doorknob moving slightly. Because I had just been in dream land-  or nightmare-land - about this exact thing, when I woke I wasn’t quite positive I was in real life. As soon as I came to my senses, I quietly got up, put my hand on the deadbolt to keep it from turning and spoke to him on the other side of the door. He replied and then ran. I called 911, and the police came, said it was uncommon for the area, and that most robberies don’t happen in the dead of night. They are likely to happen during the day, when people are not there. But that was equally disconcerting.

The police couldn't actually do anything about it because he didn't make it in. They even said “maybe it was a dream” when I told them I had strangely enough been dreaming about it before it happened. I am certain everything was locked. I checked the night before as I always do, and can safely say the one thing I am OCD about is locking doors and turning things off. The police had just left when we heard screams from another woman's apartment. She screamed loud enough for us to hear on the inside of the complex, and we chased down the police, to tell them he was still here. He made it inside her apartment, stole money from drawers, and made it to her bedroom, but once she started screaming, and yelling her apartment number, he ran. The cops chased him, and called other cars in and eventually helicopters...but they didn’t catch him.

I don’t know what happened that night. I can’t explain it. I don’t know why that night I chose not to sleep with some white noise to calm me down. I don’t know why I woke up. I don’t know why I was having a dream about it before/as it was happening. I don’t know why it wasn’t two minutes later. I don’t know all of these things.

But I do know that my instinct and intuition have always been what have guided me, and led me to where I need to be. They have kept me safe, they have kept me humble, and they have been what I relied on my whole life long. I also now know first hand the difference between actual fear, and fear that isn't real, that doesn't actually exist, and is only something made up in my own head. 

After unknowingly losing sight, it took something like this to trust those voices again. To know they are always there, and it’s up to me to be at a place where I can hear them. Through the noise. Or without the noise. Or both.

I am ok. I really am. And she is ok, too. 

But I am especially thankful today — for my instinct and intuition, that are guiding me even when I sleep. Maybe that’s why I could hear them.  Who knows?  I have forgotten how powerful these things can be. And although I don’t think fear is funny anymore, I think it can be useful. It forced me to trust again the things that I really can’t explain, that logic and reason will never agree with. 

The unexplainable lives in the same place as the magic.  In the place where words don’t do it justice, where it’s not crystal clear picture, but in a place of knowing. 

I am especially thankful today. For the unexplainable and for being here.  For the magic and for my life. 

I am especially thankful..for waking up.

Scream Out Loud

March 15, 2012

I never thought I really had much to say. Things change.

Growing up, singing in a children's choir and doing theatre, I have always been told to sing something a certain way: more vibrato on this note, more of a mix here, more diction on this phrase. Being the polite and well behaved girl that I was, I would do as I was told. I would try and sing like everyone else who had done it before me.

I didn't realize how much I associated myself with being a singer, until I went on the road with a show and only performed a few times a month. Having a voice was what I leaned on, counted on, worked on and experimented with. I loved how it made me feel, I loved the public affirmations, I loved that my instrument was connected to my body and I could always carry it with me. But for the first time in my life- I couldn't speak.

I was faced with the reality of dealing with myself without that, without being Carrie who sings. I was...just Carrie. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I gained weight, I laughed less, smiled less. I didn't recognize myself. I remember crying hysterically on the phone to my sister, which I rarely did to begin with. She said "Who is this person? You're stronger than this. You're my sister. You can do anything."

I told myself, if I don't use this time, to find something greater than what I came in with, I will have failed. To me, I will have failed. I picked up a guitar, taught myself how to play it, and I wrote a song. In cities where there was a piano, I practiced, remembering the little I learned from early childhood, and wrote another song. No rules, no right or wrong way to do it, and no one to please...except myself. I only had one person to make happy, sitting alone in a room, with no one listening.

Backstage, away from home, trapped in a dark theatre, I saw my first glimpse of freedom. This time I will sing my way and say what I want to say. There are no rules. My big old heart was waiting for life to feel so uncomfortable, so off-kilter, so out of place and out of control that something had to come out. I am grateful for the hard. And when it's still hard, I remind myself everyday what that felt like, and what it made me do.

In a couple of weeks, I will release my first album. It's called Echo. The Chorus of the song is

I wanna scream out loud
Open my mouth and just yell at the top of my lungs
Go to a place where the echo can ring out and loose ends lay undone
And I don't need anyone

When I sing something I love, whether it's someone else's song, or my own, I am finally being heard, whether anyone is there or not.

The hard is what makes it good. The hard is what makes it worth it. I found the best stuff in the hard. I'm glad it wasn't easy.


Carrie Manolakos, already positioned in the top 100 of the iTunes pop charts with her debut album “Echo”, became an internet sensation with her haunting performance of Radiohead classic Creep, captured at her album release concert in April 2012 at (le) poisson rouge. The video is close to two million views and still climbing by the thousands. She was selected for Elle Magazine’s 30 Under 30: Essential Names to Know, voted #1 by readers. Carrie has sung with Phish at Madison Square Garden, as a guest artist for their much anticipated New Years Eve Show- one of their wildest in history.

"This Cover of Radiohead's "Creep" Will Make Your Ears Orgasm. If you're in a hurry, skip to 2:25 for the crescendo, but you should really listen to the whole thing. It's upsettingly good." Neetzan Zimmerman, Gawker

"Manolakos, whose background is in musical theatre, performs the song with perfect earnestness, closing her eyes and choking back tears. She floats lightly over the soft notes and reaches up to a stringent wail towards the middle of the song." Andrea DenHoed, The New Yorker

"This gave me chills...great job, @carriemanolakos." Josh Groban, twitter

"Here's the most insanely beautiful rendition of Radiohead's "Creep" we've ever heard. @carriemanolakos = awesome!" Youtube, twitter

Carrie has been selling out venues all over New York City, as well as other cities across the country and catching the attention of stars such as Alec Baldwin, Trey Anastasio, and Josh Groban. Carrie was featured as the top story on Gawker, saying her rendition of the song is "upsettingly good" and it "Will make your Ears Orgasm." She most recently was featured in Entertainment Weekly for being one of the top 12 best Radiohead covers of all time, with artists such as Frank Ocean, John Mayer, Weezer, Regina Spektor, Vampire Weekend, and others. She was also featured in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Huffington Post, Daily Beast, MTV, and MSNnow.

Manolakos has a background in musical theater, with Broadway credits, including the lead role of Sophie in Mamma Mia as well as Elphaba on the Second National Tour of Wicked. Her debut album, Echo, is a lyrical blend of folk, pop and soul. Her sound dances among the stars of Adele and Joni Mitchell, with a kiss blown to Jeff Buckley, but a voice that is unmistakably hers alone.