Interview with Carly Harvey, DC’s Modern Day “Queen of the Blues”

Carly Harvey

Photo Credit: Brynn Johnson

Carly Harvey has been deemed, "DC's Queen of the Blues" in 2016 by Dr. Nick Johnson of WPFW Radio. I can see why. 

Having heard of this DC artist for some time, I first had the pleasure of seeing Carly perform at the Radiohead Planned Parenthood fundraiser at Black Cat last year and then again at Gypsy Sally's. And I was wowed. 

Carly is grace, confidence, originality, and the right amount of sexy swagger all at once. She commands the stage with her voice and presence and draws you in intensely. Then she seems to end each song with an infectious smile of pure gratitude that beams so brightly into the audience. 

In July 2018, Carly was featured in Big City Blues Magazine as one of the youngest Blues artists to watch. She has had the privilege to share the stage with legendary and iconic musicians like Ron Holloway, Kebbie Williams, Ephraim Owens, Cory Henry, Kofi Burbridge, Junior Marvin, and Susan Tedeschi, another artist whose work has been foundational to her musical evolution.

She is also a two-time DC Blues society Battle of the bands winner (duo 2016, band 2019) and she and her band, Kiss & Ride recently won the the DC Blues Society "Battle of the Bands" and will be representing DC in the International Blues Challenge (ICB) in Memphis later this month. 

DC Music Review had the immense pleasure to connect with Carly before her big trip. 

Nina Goodman: Hi Carly! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us before you head to Memphis next week. How exciting that Kiss & Ride won the DC Blues Society Battle of the Bands! I would love to hear more about this amazing opportunity.

Carly Harvey, Photo by Caitlin Moore

 Photo by Caitlin Moore

Carly Harvey, Photo by Caitlin Moore

 Photo Credit: Caitlin Moore

Carly Harvey: Yes, I am so excited! So like you said, my band Kiss & Ride just won the DC Blues Society "Battle of the Bands" and so we qualified to go to Memphis to compete in the International Blues Challenge, or the IBC. It’s a competition from January 22-26 hosted by The Blues Foundation and we compete against blues bands from all over. It's actually the biggest blues competition in the world! I’m really excited to compete for the second time. The first time was two years ago and I competed as a duo so it’s a little bit of a different dynamic bringing my band this time.

NG: Wow! That sounds incredible and exhilarating and maybe a little intense because you are a part of so much artistry.

So this time you have your band Kiss & Ride joining you, tell me more about them and what you hope happens at the IBC.

Photo Credit: Bontisha Rose

Photo Credit: Bontisha Rose

CH: The crew I’ve got is amazing and I’m so pumped to represent DC in the IBC. I’ve got a monster team with me: Dave Gorozdos on keys, Holly Montgomery on bass, Sean Chyun on guitar, and Andy Hamburger on drums.

I’m hoping that we will advance to the finals in the competition but also make a lot of connections, network with other musicians, and use this as a platform to put me on the radar for lots of blues fans local and nationally. I’m also hoping to get more recognition for what I’m trying to do in the blues community.

NG: That IS a monster crew.  I've heard about Dave and Holly and Andy and have seen Sean play a couple times, he's such a powerhouse of talent and energy. I can imagine your band is going to be a force to be reckoned with. 

So you said, "what you're trying to do in the blues community." Tell me more about that.

CH: One of the goals with Kiss & Ride is to extend blues to younger audiences and bridge the age gap between blues aficionados by combining current music with blues arrangements in the same set with blues standards, blues funk, soul and some original music too. We really strive to reach out to the next generation and make blues accessible to them while at the same time honoring the art and it’s roots. 

NG: It's so important to connect with children in that way. So many DC institutions like Duke Ellington School of the Arts do an amazing job honoring the roots and history of DC music. You're from this area, right? Tell me more about your roots and how you got into music. 

CH: I am from suburban Maryland but basically Washington DC, so I consider myself a Washingtonian and I live in DC proper right now and have for the past six years. I definitely came from a musical family: my dad was a funk bassist and my mom was a singer in theater and jazz.

I started out playing violin and then learned to play piano and guitar by ear. When I discovered that I wanted to sing, I joined the school choir and then shortly after that I auditioned for honors choir and all-state choir, so my beginnings in music we’re definitely classical.

In college I studied opera and also discovered my passion for blues. Right now I’m focused on Kiss & Ride but I also have an indie pop project over in Italy that’s doing pretty well.

NG: What? That sounds interesting, tell me more about that.

Photo Credit: Good Foot Media

Photo Credit: Good Foot Media

CH: I will be releasing a new song with Italian producer Taste of Dream really soon. Hopefully this summer I’ll be in Italy promoting it!  I’d also love for my band to tour overseas and land some blues festivals too.  More on that soon. 

NG: You are full of surprises! So how do you do it all? How do you balance your music life with your other life obligations, especially since you're working all over the map these days! (Smile)  

CH: I’m a full-time musician and I have a private studio teaching voice lessons and piano lessons. To support my career I’m also a substitute teacher and a pet sitter, so I have a lot of jobs haha!

Money is tight sometimes but no true artist gets into this field expecting to make lots of money, We do it because we love what we do. My social life may suffer a bit but I make time for my family and I really try to make sure I let everyone know they are important to me and that I’m thinking of them even if I am too busy to physically hang out.

NG: From what I can see in the DC scene, I think your friends are very supportive of you and get it. (Smile) So being from this area, tell me about some of your favorite gigs or venues you've played in the DMV. 

Photo Credit: Brynn Johnson

Photo Credit: Brynn Johnson

Photo Credit: Brynn Johnson

Photo Credit: Brynn Johnson

CH: This is a hard question!  I have three favorites for different reasons.

I love playing at Westminster Church DC for their blue Monday blues concert series. it’s usually sold out and the people there are a mixed congregation of the backgrounds and ages and they are there to hear blues and they’re excited and that feels wonderful when someone really respects and loves what you’re doing.

The second one is Pearl Street Warehouse.  I got to open for one of my favorite bands, Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics. The crowd was amazing, they treated the band really well as far as hospitality and we had a blast.

Lastly is The Hamilton. My band plays at the loft fairly regularly and it’s always a great time, great crowd. With Sol Roots, I opened up for Junior Marvin’s The Wailers downstairs at The Hamilton Live which was amazing. The hospitality there is always great,  I’d love to have my band perform down there sometime too.     

NG: I love Pearl Street and The Hamilton but now I definitely have to check out the music series at Westminster Church.  

You just named some really amazing artists you've opened for and played music with, which I'm imagining was so powerful for you. Tell me, who are some of your other musical influences?

CH: I have really eclectic taste in the music that influences me. I think I have a distinct voice but listening to the nuances of my phrasing it’s obvious to hear a little Susan Tedeschi and a little Ella Fitzgerald at the same time. I also love Etta James and Bonnie Raitt

NG: I love that you just said that. When I hear you I absolutely feel some nods to Ella in your vocal styling. So before we end, tell me about what's coming up for you next. 

CH: A lot, although these days my head is really focused on fundraising for the trip to Memphis. It’s pretty expensive paying for lodging and airfare, EP recording and to pay the musicians I’ve hired to go down there. I started a fundraiser and have included some great incentives. Anyone who wants to make donations can go to or directly make a donation at   

NG: And after you return, did I hear you have a new album in the works? 

Photo Credit: Rebecca Carroll

Photo Credit: Rebecca Carroll

CH: Yes! I'm releasing an EP of all original music. It’s titled “Kiss & Ride Vol. 1” and it’s a blues record.

Some of the songs I’d written years ago but didn’t have the cajones to put it out there. We are currently in the production process and I’ll release a single in the near future before releasing the entire EP in February.

NG: Well I'm glad you found the guts to put it out there, the world needs more inspired music like yours and we here at DCMR can't wait to hear it! 

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. We should definitely connect post-IBC to hear how fabulously it went! (Smile)

CH: Thank YOU so much for connecting with me, it means a lot especially as we embark on this trip and prepare for the album. And you can connect with me on Facebook or Instagram for updates and exclusive videos during the IBC!

NG: Will do! And can't wait to see where you're going next!





Original song "You Don't Have To Buy Me," written by Carly Harvey and available on the upcoming EP Kiss & Ride Vol. 1

"I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" performed by Kiss & Ride with special guest Sol Roots and Tedeschi Trucks Horns Ephraim Owens and Kebbi Williams

Additional Resources

Additional Resources



Visit Carly Harvey's website for more info on  upcoming shows or click HERE to directly make a donation to Carly's fundraiser.

About the author
Nina Goodman

Nina Goodman

Nina Goodman is a music lover, dancer, artist, keyboardist, and an avid ukulele player. You may even see her up on stage performing with local DC bands. Above all, Nina is a fierce supporter of the Washington DC local music scene. Nina's talents are mostly behind the scenes where she maintains and curates our event calendar and conducts interviews with local artists. If there is music playing in the DMV, you can expect to see her attending or at least making sure that our audience knows about it.