Karla Causey Kincaid is preparing to release a new album.

I’m not a mystery,
Never claimed to be anything but me,
I’m not a mystery,
Wear my heart on my sleeve
And lay my soul down at your feet.
Here I stand taller than I’ve ever been …
                – From “Mystery” by Karla Causey Kincaid

BY KIM McKINNEY

At the beginning of the last school year, American Renaissance teachers were asked to select a theme for their class related to animals. Second-grade teacher Karla Causey Kincaid chose the “Brilliant Butterflies.”

She didn’t realize at the time that her own life would be going through a tremendous transformation. As the year unfolded, she was reminded many times of the irony of the name she chose.

With her marriage ending, and what she thought she knew about her future no longer valid, Karla has been re-examining what she believes about life and love, contemplating change in a way she never anticipated and working to remember who she has always been at her core.

“This year has been full-blown caterpillar,” she said. “I don’t know if I have made it to butterfly yet, but I have been in the mucky, yucky parts of the inside of a chrysalis and I have grown a lot.”

As she has made her way through all the emotions associated with such a major life change, Karla has done what she has always done when she has tried to figure life out – she has written songs.

Her new compositions are raw and honest and represent her emotions as she has gone through this difficult experience. At times, listeners feel the deep emotions of her journey and witness her coming back to a place of equilibrium and power. Some lyrics represent her feelings at one given time, while others are a more of an expression of what she has come to believe. For her audience, Karla’s words are powerful and relatable.

While she admires people who write songs based on their personal experiences, that has never been her way – until now.

“I only know what I feel, what I know, and what I have experienced. For me, it’s very, very, very personal.”

As she has gone through each stage of the process and regained her equilibrium, she has poured her unvarnished feelings into lyrics. Song after song came to her until she realized she had enough for a whole album — not the EP she originally thought she would be recording. Her new album will be coming out this summer.

“It’s going to be raw, and it’s not going to be overly produced, but just my voice and my guitar and some bass and that’s it. I’m excited to see what I am capable of doing and what opportunities present themselves with this new mindset of accepting opportunities and knowing I only want to be in spaces where I am appreciated or respected or able to be my full self,” she said. “When you think you have to play small, or get quiet, or take what is, or deal with mediocre — that is how you make choices. Now I have been kind of liberated from all that through the growing pains of big giant life and heartbreaking changes.”

She is recording her album at the Old Jail, which holds many special memories for her musical life. She took piano lessons there at age six, mandolin lessons at age eight, and has performed at the Statesville venue quite a few times over the years.

“Music heals, and it heals in ways you might not even know you need to be healed,” she said. “That’s been my experience my whole life – in any darkness or trouble or sorrow, music has carried me through. In this season it has.”

Karla also plays with Josh Myers in a band called Magnolia Fire. They include other musicians from time to time, and their kids end up singing with them on occasion. They’re working on a traditional bluegrass music album.

“Playing music by yourself is cathartic, it’s therapeutic, you’re putting yourself out there. Playing music with another musician who is like-minded and has a different skill set than you have — it brings out something else in you that you don’t have when you’re by yourself. That magic is fun.”

One thing you can expect from Karla in the future is a desire to go big in new ways. One project she is mulling over is how to use the healing power of music to reach others in the community, joining voices from all different walks of life into a community concert, a flash mob, or something else that may bring out the love of music and healing.

“There’s no glory or beauty in hiding or playing small,” she said.

The butterfly is emerging from that cocoon and is ready to fly.

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