Amanda Carr sits down with award-winning broadcaster, Candy O’Terry to talk about her big news and latest CD “Dream Come True.”
AMANDA: Candy I know you and I are part of the mutual admiration society as we are always expressing to each other how amazing we think the other one is… but I am in awe of your recent decisions and transitions. Clearly when it comes time to do what we profess, it brings home the magnitude of what it takes to evolve and the courage to pursue our dreams. Can you talk a little bit about what when through your mind when you made the decision to leave your 20 plus years of radio to pursue other passions?
CANDY: The decision to leave Boston powerhouse Magic 106.7 after nearly 25 years was the most difficult career decision I have ever made. In 2013 I had transitioned from my role as the station’s Assistant Program Director to being on the air in morning drive full time and that was a big adjustment for me. As my broadcasting career developed, I’d been fortunate enough to have a place at the table when it came to shaping the sound of the station and I really coveted that role. By the same token, while I was on the air 6 days a week as a traffic anchor, weekend personality and fill-in air talent, I had never had a full time airshift and morning drive is the highest visibility daypart there is in radio, so I accepted the challenge with arms wide open.
I’d been warned by many women in both radio and TV, like BWME’s Liz Brunner that getting up in the middle of the night to go to work is draining on your body but I had NO IDEA how exhausting it would be for me. My alarm went off every morning at 3:30AM and my husband Tom got up with me every morning, just so he could be on my schedule (yes, he is a saint!) I lost all of my energy and creativity by about 4PM and couldn’t host events at night or even put a sentence together by the end of the day! My entire life was ruled by what time I woke up and what time I went to bed.
After 2 years of this, I knew I couldn’t do it anymore and that was very hard for me to admit, because I’m a driven person. The real challenge was letting go of Magic 106.7…the place where I had once been so happy and fulfilled. I laid awake many nights, wondering if leaving the station would destroy my career, or if it might just be the start of something new and very exciting. I worried a lot about leaving the Exceptional Women show which I had created in 1992 and which was my greatest source of joy.
When my managers presented me with a 2 year renewal on my contract, I did try to make some changes I thought would enable me to sign it…at least for another year, but it just didn’t work out. That was when I realized it was time to turn the page and take that leap of faith beyond what I knew I could do really well: be an award winning broadcaster. It was the need to be around the music I loved that had lead me to radio in the first place. I’d been recording and performing off and on throughout my radio career and I had 10 songs that I longed to bring together onto one CD even if the only people who ever heard the songs were my family and friends. This was a bucket list item for me.
I also wanted to kick off my next chapter with a good deed, so I decided to donate 5 dollars from every CD I sold to Lucy’s Love Bus, a local charity that provides comfort and care to children with cancer. At the same time, my daughter and I had been holding onto a brilliant idea for a children’s book series and we were so inspired to write it together. There was so much promise in all of these “bucket list items” and I wanted so much to feel like I was using my gifts and talents in a new and exciting way. Most of all, I wanted to be sure that someday…10 or 20 years from now…I wouldn’t be shaking my head saying: “woulda, shoulda, coulda.” So I jumped off the cliff not knowing if I’d land on my feet or my face….and here I am still standing!
AMANDA: Can you talk about some of your relationships with the other musicians and producers during the making of this debut recording? How were they cultivated?
CANDY: I’ve always been a believer in the power of connection and relationships…that’s why I’ve been a mentor for decades and partnered with Boston Women in Media & Entertainment co-founder Dayla Arabella Santurri to create our organization in 2012.
As a radio pro, I had the opportunity to meet and interview so many artists and one of them was Grammy nominee, pianist and composer Jim Brickman. He is one of those guys who truly works at creating a bond with the stations that play his songs. We met over the phone way back in the day when he was literally pitching the program director to add his music to the playlist and back then, I was the secretary, answering the phone! We became instant friends and one day, I felt confident enough to ask him if I could sing his songs The Gift and Valentine. He sent me his mastered instrumental tracks and I recorded my own vocal over those original tracks. David Corey was the Music Director and APD at crosstown competitor Kiss 108 and he agreed to sing The Gift with me. One year later David agreed to produce my vocal for Valentine. By the way, David Corey is now one of the most successful programmers in Canada, overseeing dozens of stations there.
Hearing these songs being played on my station… across the country and around the world has been a dream come true. This experience was the inspiration for the title of the CD: Dream Come True.
To be honest, it’s always been about the relationships I’ve been fortunate enough to create along with way. I met Emmy Award winning pianist and composer Brad Hatfield when I sang Over The Rainbow (also on my new CD) with the Boston Pops years ago and he has become a central figure in all of the songs you hear on the album. He’s a brilliant musician who has made it possible for me to shine through his gorgeous arrangements. It was Brad who introduced me to Crit Harmon, the incredible producer, mixer, songwriter, musician and all around great guy whose fingerprints are on just about every track.
I first met Livingston Taylor a million years ago for a feature I did on Magic called Magic Backstage. He was and still is the BEST interview I’ve ever done because he was so candid, so authentic, so entertaining, so full of stories. In the back of my mind, I had a secret wish to sing with him and we did that on my wedding day in 2006.
My next wish was to record a song with Liv…and that wish came true on our duet for Hasten Down The Wind, the old Linda Ronstadt song. Talk about connections…and karma and dreams come true. I guess the message is: it just takes time, but hold onto your dreams…they really can come true when you make a decision to bring those dreams to life. That’s what this CD is all about.
AMANDA: You are very public about your dedication to the fight against breast cancer after experiencing the loss of your mother at a young age… did this loss and your love for her fuel your endeavors? Do you feel her presence and spirit has played a role in your success? Is there a particular song on your CD that is dedicated to your mother or that you had her in mind when you recorded it?
CANDY: My mother died of breast cancer when she was only 52. I was 18 and her death completely changed the trajectory of my life. As the radio spokesperson for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, The Pink Rose Foundation, the All 4 One Alliance and many other breast cancer related charities, I have focused my attention on motherless daughters. We’re a strange breed, because when you lose your mother early in your life, you lose your compass and it’s very easy to lose your way completely. I learned early on that loss can sit on your shoulders and weigh you down, or it can lift you up and give you wings to fly. I decided I wanted to fly…to inspire others with my own story, to motivate and connect myself to other women who could be my role models in the absence of my mother.
The single biggest source of healing for me came on the day my daughter Colleen was born, because the mother/daughter connection was given back to me. I’ve spent my career focused on the fight against breast cancer, as an advocate and a voice for women who are battling the disease and for their families who also suffer when their loved one hears the words: “you have breast cancer.”
Every time I walk into an empty church, I find my way to the center of the nave and sing “Amazing Grace” to my mother. That song is on the CD in her honor. I also sing it every year at the Hatchshell to that crowd of 40 thousand people and it’s one of those moments when you can hear a pin drop. Amazing Grace is my connection song and I sing it for anyone who has experienced loss in their life. It’s also a song that connects us all to the relief you feel when you make it through the pain and are able to process the loss, cherish the love and live your life again: “I once was lost, but now, I’m found. Was blind, but now, I see.”
AMANDA: What is your ultimate hope and goal for your new CD,“Dream Come True”?
CANDY: My ultimate hope and goal in releasing Dream Come True is to show women of every age that dreams only come true when you act on them. We all have hopes and dreams swirling around in our heads and in our hearts…secret wishes we want to make real. My advice is: write them down on a piece of paper and then ask yourself: what can I do to bring this dream to life?
I also believe in karma. My mantra is: “you get what you give.” If you throw good things out into the world, they will come back to you. I want to kick off this next chapter in my life by raising $2500.00 for Lucy’s Love Bus so that the charity can continue to provide comfort and care to children with cancer. It’s a giveback for the joy of realizing this dream come true. Maybe someday years from now, my grandchildren will sit and listen to me singing my heart out on this CD and say: “My Gigi sounds so happy when she sings.” And I am.
For more information on Candy O’Terry and to purchase your copy of “Dream Come True,” visit candyoterry.com The CD sells for $15.00 and $5.00 goes directly to Lucy’s Love Bus.