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From balance beam to recording studio
Four years ago, Carly Patterson was in Athens, Greece, competing with the American gymnastics team. Her training was so intense that she didn’t get a chance to go sightseeing, even after being in Greece for three weeks.
But this year, during the Olympics, Patterson was at home in Texas supporting her old teammates while watching them on TV.
The 20-year-old is now pursuing a music career in pop/rock after retiring from gymnastics two years ago.
On Sept. 24, Patterson and her representative, Fred Bell, spoke to a Talent Management class at Columbia, in the Wabash Campus Building,623 S. Wabash Ave., about the music business and how her life has changed since she switched career plans.
After winning a silver medal with the rest of the American team and becoming the first American woman to win an Olympic gold in the all-round in 2004, Patterson felt it was time to move on.
When she was a gymnast, Patterson was training nearly 40 hours a week and didn’t have time for a social life. After her back problems interfered with her training, she realized retiring would be the best for her health. She spent the following year getting her life back to normal, hanging out with friends and family and going to school.
“I did everything I ever dreamed of accomplishing,” she said. “Now I’m going to go on since I have other goals and dreams.”
Her new career choice is more difficult than she thought it would be because it’s not easy to break into the music industry without having a “name” in music, she said. The transition from gymnastics to music has been an ongoing challenge.
“It’s harder because people know me as a gymnast, and they want to box me in with that,” Patterson said. “If they would listen to my music, they could see that people can have more than one talent.”
Bell, a representative from Chicago-based label Music Mind Records, discovered Patterson during a business trip in Dallas, where Patterson currently lives. Bell has organized concerts for artists like Janet Jackson, Dr. Dre and Ludacris.
“It was more through a friend of a friend telling me about a gymnast girl who was now singing,” he said. “I got in contact with her, and I saw a lot of potential in her and her music.”
Since she signed with the label, Bell and Patterson have been working to promote her new single, “Temporary Life,” which she said is about someone being somewhere, wishing they were elsewhere. They have mainly promoted her single in Texas, but are still struggling to get radio play.
“It’s difficult to get radio play when you’re not someone in music,” she said.
Her younger sister, Jordan Patterson, has seen her sister struggle through her career transition. Jordan is currently a freshman at Southeastern University in Florida, studying business and marketing. Matching green heart tattoos on their wrists show how close the two are.
“I think it is a completely different place where [Carly] is now,” she said. “Her gymnastics was more of a physical thing, and music is more mental because it’s a challenge every day in order to break into the industry.”
Like any other sister would hope, Jordan Patterson said she wants radio stations and people in general to play her sister’s music and enjoy it as much as she does. She said people should get a chance to see what her sister can offer.
The title of Patterson’s debut album, Back to the Beginning, is also the name of a song in the album that she co-wrote about her transition and her new career. The album does not have a release date yet.
Although Patterson said she misses the competitive aspect of being a gymnast, her new life is exciting. She wants to go on tour and perform with other musicians like Coldplay, Ashlee Simpson and Gwen Stefani.
Patterson’s next show is in Texas on Oct. 11, when she will sing for a gymnastics tour.