Upcoming Artist Series: Char Reilly

Note from the author: This is my second article for the Upcoming Local Artist series and because I want to have a diverse group of people represented here, I asked a few of my local music “friends” to suggest some artists to highlight. I reached out to Chris Wienk of WEXT Radio for any suggestions and this is “one of his favs!”

Charlotte “Char” Reilly, 22, was born downstate and moved to the Capital Region when she was little. When she was 8 years old her mom bought her first guitar. Playing guitar quickly became an outlet for her and music has been a big part of her family for as long as she can remember. Whether it was playing in the car or around the house, or her parents taking Char to her first concert at 3 years old, there was always singing and dancing. Music was a constant in her life and her love and interest for music came naturally because it was something that was “always around”. 

Her mom might have said that “any time Char went to see live music, from a really young age, she was always mesmerized by whoever was playing and would spend the whole time locked in on them.”

Char sings, plays guitar and a little bit of piano, and said that she is still trying to hone in on and find her own distinctive “sound”. Her first two singles are both pretty different from each other.

“Hide Away” kind of lives somewhere between the alternative and pop worlds. She wrote it on her acoustic guitar and when she realized that she wanted to release it her primary focus was on the production. It was her first time using Logic and she had a lot of fun with the creativity involved.  I love the beautiful simplicity and ease of her voice and as the song goes on it gets interesting with the different sounds and vocals.  Watching her perform this song makes me see what a natural performer she is, so laid back, and what a beautiful song!! She said it’s about hiding away from all of her problems, which I suppose we can all relate to on one level or another.

In her next release, “Nowhere,” she is not sure where to place genre-wise. She went into it knowing that she wanted to try and experiment with some different sounds and effects.  This song has a very raw and honest message, with a really cool vibe. 

Char and her producer Chris Carey worked hard and had a lot of fun in his studio bringing this song to life. Char is grateful for the opportunity to work with him. 

Lately while diving into writing again, she feels like her sound is starting to shift a little bit more into herself and is excited to create more original music. 

 I asked Char what inspires her as a musician and who some of her favorite artists are. She said that the one thing she loves about creativity and music is how inspiration can come in so many different forms and how she is inspired by the people around her. 

She enjoys listening to and is inspired by Brittany Howard and loves Alabama Shakes as well as her solo album.  Amy Winehouse is also someone she adores, and Char is pretty sure she knows every song in her discography. She also loves and is intrigued by how clever Amy was with flipping so many covers into her own. Sylvan Esso is also a really cool duo. They inspire her every time she sees them perform. 

One person who inspired Char most of all was her mom.  She was the person Char always turned to for advice and guidance.  Her beloved mom passed away in 2020 and she has had struggles navigating through that incredible loss.  She stopped performing for well over a year because it was too difficult for her to imagine doing her music without her mom there.   

One of the things that she also enjoys spending time doing is snowboarding.  Last year her girlfriend taught her how to snowboard and that quickly turned into her favorite hobby. “I’ve found it’s the only way I can really clear my head, and I’m definitely someone who’s always in their head so it’s pretty freeing. I’ve always loved being surrounded by nature so I try to do that whenever I can, it really makes me feel connected to my mom.”

Her mom was such a big part of Char’s music and would sit there while she was writing something new or just listen to her play for hours. She valued her mom’s opinion most when it came to her writing and since her mom passed away, writing has been difficult for her.  Her mom was also at every single one of her shows, sitting in the front row singing along to her entire set. 

Not too long ago Char had a simple goal of trying to fall back in love with music. She wants to get back to where she was and then go from there. 

She temporarily moved to Maine in November and slowly started picking up her guitar more often. After deciding to try and get some gigs locally she is so happy to say that she IS in love with playing music for people again, but more importantly for herself.   Char said, “It was a really hard step to take, there were honestly points last year I didn’t know if I’d ever play for people again, but I am so grateful that’s not the case”. “

When thinking of the future of her music she sometimes is overwhelmed thinking about what other people might think about something she writes or releases. One focus is getting to a place where she doesn’t care and is just doing it for herself. 

I asked Char where she sees herself five years from now and her answer was simple; to be living with her girlfriend and dog… (maybe more dogs) and to live off of her music.  That’s the ultimate goal.  I think she’s on a great path right now and I certainly can’t wait to get a chance to check her out at a live performance! 

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