When Linsay Carlson was little, she used to stand up on a table and belt out her musical talents for the residents of Sunset Knoll Retirement Home in Aurelia.
Now, the 25-year-old is grown up, and she is ready to broaden her audience from Sunset Knoll to residents watching sunrises in cities across the country.
Carlson, a native of Storm Lake and a graduate of Aurelia High School, has just released the Christian music album Journey, a compilation of eight songs which feature her singing and playing the piano.
Recorded and mastered by Creative Communications in Sioux Falls, S.D., the CD is the culmination of a dream for Carlson, who said music has been an instrumental part of her life.
"Music's really been a big part of my life so far, and it has been in my family's life too," Linsay said. "I remember when I was pretty little my parents and my family would go around to different churches and sing in services, and it was always exciting to sing for all of those people. Music's really a passion of mine, and I like to have fun with it."
Carlson, who has two older brothers, Brandt and Gabe, and one younger brother, Jordan, participated in both band and chorus at Aurelia High, and she continued her music education at Northwestern College in Orange City, majoring in the subject and receiving classical training in voice and piano.
After taking a job as a Resident Director at Dordt College, Carlson continued to be involved in musical activities, as she began singing and playing the piano in praise and worship services at the college and local churches.
Carlson, still involved in the music scene at Dordt, has been at the Sioux Center institution for four years, and said the students she has come into contact with there have helped her significantly throughout the entire recording process.
"My residents here at Dordt have had a great influence on me," Linsay said. "I learned about the recording studio I went to from one of my residents, and I've had several residents who have given me ideas for music and lyrics. They've always been there to support me and offer me encouragement for doing this."
Carlson's mother, Cheryl, who lives in Storm Lake with husband Loren, also said friends at Dordt helped convince her daughter to record the album.
"We've always encouraged her with her music, but I think mostly it was her friends from college and different people that she worked with at Dordt that really encouraged her to make this CD," Cheryl said. "We've all said she should make a CD, and I think she wants her family and friends to really enjoy this and the music she's putting out."
A completely independent venture, Linsay said breaking into the music scene was difficult for her from a personal standpoint, as she said she had to be encouraged and prompted by family and friends to release the album.
"It very difficult personally, because it sometimes feels like you're tearing a part of your journal out and showing it to the world," Linsay said. "I wanted to do it, but I needed some support from people close to me to tell me that I should do this and not be afraid about sharing my music with others."
The young musician writes the lyrics and composes the music to all of the songs featured on the CD, and she said she enjoys being able to write songs which can reflect her strong Christian beliefs and fully convey those beliefs to those who listen to her music.
"It takes a while for me to write some of the songs some of the time, but I think that's good, because I'm able to make sure that the music really expresses what I feel," Linsay said. "It takes a little longer than I would like some of the time, but I want to make the lyrics and music the best that I can.
"I like to make the lyrics innovative," Linsay continued. "I don't want to have lyrics that are just cliches over and over again. I want to make people think and be able to help share my love of how God has been there for me and for everyone in my life, and this has been one way in which I've been able to do that."
Linsay's first recording process was anything but cliche, as she ended up having to make two CD's instead of one in Sioux Falls.
Days before she was ready to send the first recording of her album out to be replicated and released, Linsay and the sound team noticed a few errors on the CD, forcing her to scrap the original project and rerecord all eight songs.
It took five months for her to relay the tracks, but she said the delay was a blessing in disguise.
"There were several times when I was pretty frustrated at having to do it over again, but it's really paid off in the long run," Linsay said. "I got to redo some things and touch up a few things in the songs that I think made the music better, and that helped quite a bit.
"There were also some people who wanted to buy my CD's when I first began, and then with the delayed process, I met some more people and was able to broaden the amount of people who were interested in it," Linsay continued. "I look back on that and it really was a good thing that it got delayed, because a lot of good things have come out of that."
Carlson has already seen copies of Journey circulate throughout Siouxland communities such as Orange City, Sioux Falls, Sioux Center and Storm Lake, but her album has also been heard by people in Des Moines, Indiana and California.
She also may have some opportunities to travel and attempt to expand her music career outside the northwest Iowa area this summer, as she will be traveling across the state to perform at a number of worship and fellowship services at churches and events.
However, the local musician said that she simply wants to enjoy the musical journey she is on right now and not worry about what the future may bring.
"I'm just trying to take it one step at a time," Linsay said. "I'm try not to look too far ahead and miss out on everything that's going on right now. I am working with a group of people here that I'm playing with at Dordt and we'll see if something happens later on, but nothing's written in stone for the future, that's for sure. I just want to enjoy the experience right now."