by Amanda Halkiotis
by Amanda Halkiotis
|A former Broadway performer, Carrie Manolakos is a singer/songwriter living in New York City.|
Check out Carrie Manolakos if you haven’t already --- I mean right now. She doesn’t wait for buzz to reach her --- instead she creates it herself. With raw talent and palpable charisma, this rising star is best known for her dazzling Broadway career, writing her own songs, and performing live throughout Manhattan.
Last April she played at Le Poisson Rouge, turning what started out as a set of new songs into a had-to-be-there experience with a cover of Radiohead’s sleeper hit “Creep." Not since Jeff Buckley reinvented Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” has a singer put so much into someone else’s song.
Carrie grew up in Syracuse, New York and started singing before she could even talk. She joined a children’s choir at age eight, and traveled all over the world to perform. She started acting at age ten, and after that, she said, “There was no going back.” She continued to act and sing in high school, and went on to study at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
|While on tour with Wicked, Carrie used the spare time to teach herself guitar, practice piano and write songs.|
At NYU, Carrie took a master class that led to an audition, which landed her an amazing opportunity. “I got a casting call for Mama Mia,” she recalled. “After three auditions, they called to ask me, 'Can you be in Canada in 10 days?'” She toured for one and a half years before joining the Broadway cast. Carrie then took on the role of Elphaba in the second national tour of Wicked.
“While touring with Wicked, I was a standby, and had a lot of free time on my hands during the majority of my time out there. In New York City I was always busy. I remember saying to myself, ‘I don’t have this kind of time in New York.’ If I don’t use it, I will have failed.” She used this spare time to teach herself guitar, practice piano, and write songs using the Music Directors’ room to rehearse.
Carrie returned to New York and in August, 2010, she debuted live at Joe’s Pub. “That’s where it all started,” she said. She continued to play throughout NYC for the next 18 months or so. Then on April 2, 2012, she held a release party and performance for her album, Echo, at Le Poisson Rouge. “It was super fun. The place was packed."
|Carrie's performance of Radiohead's "Creep"at Le Poisson Rouge went viral in just days.|
And what about closing the show with that “Creep” cover? “I realized it was a special moment as soon as it was happening. We only rehearsed the song two or three times before performing it --- my heart was exploding. I was finally seeing myself as an artist or a person creating something.”
Without any PR outsourcing, the clip went viral in a matter of days. “I put it on Facebook --- it organically exploded on its own. It got 12,000 views in a week and by now the video is well over a million.” Several media outlets have since picked up the live performance, including Gawker, calling Carrie’s performance an "eargasm," the Huffington Post, msn.com, and Entertainment Weekly, which includes Carrie in its list of “Top 12 Radiohead covers.”
So why did she choose the song? “A friend suggested I cover it. I, of course, knew the song, but listening more carefully I really connected to it,” Carrie said. “Just this idea of being who you are and expressing what you’re going through.” Brave indeed, her emotional rendition has paid off in spades. In April, 2012, The New Yorker featured Carrie in the article, "A Rehabilitated Creep," and in May, 2012, Elle selected her for "30 Under 30: The Essential Names to Know." Carrie was voted number one by Elle readers.
|Carrie's show at the Rockwood Music Hall was essentially sold out in November.|
“After the ‘Creep’ cover, a lot of doors opened for me. People kind of know who I am. They say, 'You’re the girl form the ‘Creep’ video.'” This bit of Radiohead fame has helped the Indie rocker book more shows --- at the end of November, she played to a packed house at Rockwood Music Hall. Not to mention, she began 2013 with a bang, singing with Phish to a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden on New Year's Eve.