Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.
Craig Carnelia is a composer/lyricist who has been working on and off-Broadway for over twenty-five years. His work has appeared in such revues as Working and Diamonds, and his shows include Is There Life After High School, Three Postcards, and the forthcoming Sweet Smell of Success, for which he’s writing lyrics to Marvin Hamlisch’s music and John Guare’s book. His songs appear on Lost in Boston IV, Jason Graae’s Evening of Self-Indulgence, and of course, our forthcoming reissue of the original Broadway cast album of Working.
DL: Let’s start by talking about how you got your start as a writer. What made you decide to become a songwriter, and how did you go about doing that?
CC: Four things happened at the same time: I started to perform in musicals in junior high and high school. I started going to the theatre around the same time, when I was about 14. I was in a folk singing group, where I performed mostly known songs, either traditional songs or the kind of things Peter, Paul and Mary and the Kingston Trio were doing in the sixties. There was a member of the group who wrote songs, and seeing that a person could just do that, I decided to try it myself. And I did. I wrote my first songs on the guitar, and soon thereafter I wanted to branch out from writing folk songs to theater songs. I taught myself to play the piano when I was a junior in high school, and I started writing what I call my “schoolwork shows” – the shows that taught me how to do it.