When Carolyn Owens ’02 first came to Valpo, she did not know that her decision would be the catalyst that would push her forward to pursue a career she loves, find guidance to allow her to fearlessly follow her dreams, and find happiness in becoming the most genuine version of herself.
Today, Carolyn is an independent music supervisor and founder of Music4Scenes, a music consulting firm that also provides custom music. She has experience working for companies such as Entertainment Tonight and The Insider as music supervisor, and she currently works at FOX Sports as the music clearance manager. Alongside her “day job,” she is a recording artist who writes and performs original songs. The opportunities that she found at Valpo gave her a glimpse of what her path could look like; her confidence and determination paved the way.
“In my life, I’m very scared of spontaneity,” Carolyn says. “I grew up with very stable parents who gave plans about what’s going to happen next. I don’t like being surprised. I like to know what’s going to happen next. But when it comes to music, I can let myself go completely and be vulnerable. And I can do whatever I want to and I don’t feel like it’s wrong. That’s why I knew I needed to be doing music. It’s a necessity for me.”
Carolyn came to Valpo when her then husband was recruited for the basketball team. They decided they wanted to be at a university that would allow them both to pursue their paths, and Valpo fit the bill.
“I was married to a basketball recruit and I majored in sports management,” Carolyn says. “But I took all of the music business courses, because even then I knew I wanted to be in Chicago and wanted to be performing and make music a big part of my life, and I ended up joining a band.”
From that point on, Carolyn knew that performing music in front of a live audience was an experience that she couldn’t part ways with, and she continued showing up for her band in Chicago, while simultaneously continuing her music courses at Valpo. And while Carolyn was beginning to find herself in her music, she and her then husband decided to part ways. Carolyn was overwhelmed by the support that she found in her Valpo community during that chapter of her life.
“I feel that I’ve been blessed with the mindset that someway, somehow, everything will work out,” Carolyn says. “I had a moment where someone said to me ‘if you leave, what are you going to do? You have a community here, you are doing well in school. You can’t leave because you are breaking up.’ And Valpo really kept making me choose myself and choose what I really wanted to do in life and not be small and go home. I’m grateful to Valpo in so many ways because of that.”
The sense of community and support is one that is celebrated on Valpo’s campus every day and our faculty’s compassion towards their students is never ending.
“Not only were the students literally loving, even the professors and everyone were so protective of me during the process,” Carolyn says. “When it first happened, one of the professors I was taking the four Gospels with would always walk with me to make sure I was ok and would make sure my friend was around to walk me back to my dorm. I love that and there are so many Valpo stories like that where professors were quietly— or overtly — supportive of their students and making sure they are OK.”
It's safe to say that Carolyn is now more than OK. She set her mind to achieving her goals in the music industry and quickly got to work making her dream into a reality. After she left Valpo, Carolyn moved to Chicago and was accepted into graduate school at the University of Illinois Chicago and furthered her education in the arts. Though she followed her passions to Chicago, Carolyn acknowledges that Valpo’s Chicago Arts Program was a very integral part of her career and helped her land her first job in the industry.
“I knew I should do an internship because I needed that experience. Marcia Lewis, my professor at the time, suggested the Chicago Arts Program. It was a program that allowed us to live as artists and learn from each other and critique each other’s work. We had an art space and transportation cards, and we lived in very small apartments with roommates,” she says.
The Chicago Arts Program is a 15-week semester of immersion in the Chicago art world. Students live and study in Chicago, work at a part-time internship, network with artists and art professionals, and write about and discuss practical and theoretical issues. This program was created with the goal of setting students on their path in the art world before they leave campus.
“I remember there were 6-8 of us and it was our job to create art, critique each other’s art, and be involved in the Chicago arts community and that was an experience I will never forget,” Carolyn says. The program helped Carolyn to guide her interests and follow two paths: one as a music industry business professional and one as a singer/songwriter. To Carolyn, both are needed in her life to allow for balance in her spirit.
“The (Chicago) Arts Program gave me an outlet to be able to sing and perform very regularly because at this time, we had met so many people who had performed or who had experience with venues,” Carolyn says. “And now I believe that I am fully an artist, but I am also fully a music business professional. And it all started at Valpo: I’m still living my college life in a way. I’m still performing, but I’m still really serious about business in music.”
Carolyn is considered by many to be a rising music star, and her experience as a music clearance professional allows her to understand the world of music from a variety of angles. Her single “The One” released on Nov. 11, 2022, following her single “Beach of My Own,” which was featured in the OWN Series “Cherish the Day.” Her R&B singles and positive vibes help her audience relax and get back to what Carolyn feels music is all about: creating some sort of personal experience between the artist and the audience.
“I try to serve the audience that I am present with. It’s a mediation. It’s a seance for any healing or love that people need. I want to resurrect people’s hope to fall in love or heal. Music can do that for people, it does that for me,” Carolyn says.
While Carolyn loves performing and refuses to let that part of her go unnoticed, she also loves her job as a music business professional.
“In my business career, I make a lot of resources that allow me to live the life that I want. So, performing is not my bread and butter, but it’s still a necessity for me,” Carolyn says. “I’m currently the clearance manager at FOX Sports, which basically means any of the sports programming that you see on FOX Sports, if there is music that you hear, I need to coordinate the performance, license the music, etc.”
And because there are so many areas in the music industry in which Carolyn could get involved, she created her own company to allow her the freedom to work on projects that she wants alongside the work she does for any other company.
“I’m also a music supervisor in my own company Music4Scenes. I oversee production projects that include music in film and TV. I’m the music supervisor for quite a few projects that are coming out next year, including one that I did for Snoop Dogg. There’s just so many things!” Carolyn says.
As for her advice to any young musicians, artists, or creatives, Carolyn leaves them with this: “Really get your vision together. Even if that means a weekly vision. Where do you see yourself? Every artist or every creative, we get glimpses of our higher self, or the thing that will bring us the most joy. Creatives must do that. Write it down and say ‘I saw myself doing this and it’s going to happen’.”
Carolyn found her passions and chased her dreams until she created the life that she wanted for herself through determination, hard work, and an undying belief that she, in fact, could do it all — and she did. We can’t wait to see what she will do next.