Kelly McCartney, Executive Director

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman

Having won prestigious literary competitions in both grade school and junior high, I attended college with a Scripps Howard Foundation scholarship, earned a BA in Journalism, and interned at Entertainment Tonight. After graduation, I worked as a personal assistant in Celebrityville for Susanna Hoffs, Isabelle Adjani, Sally Hershberger, Adam Horowitz, and others.

In the very early ’90s, I co-represented a cool band (Sun 60) and teamed up with Donovan Leitch to host hipster musicians at Bar One and Roxbury (Beastie Boys, Mazzy Star, Dada, et al). In the fall of 1992, I switched gears, became a vegan, and spent a year at Virgin Records coordinating contracts for newbie artists who later became quite popular (Ben Harper, the Wallflowers, David Gray). In 1994, desperately missing the trenches of live music, I started booking Genghis Cohen, a small acoustic venue where I supported the burgeoning careers of Vonda Shepard, Shawn Mullins, Jill Sobule, Evan & Jaron, Dar Williams, Kristen Hall, and other soon-to-be notables. Joni Mitchell, the Murmurs, and the Bangles even came by sometimes, and that era of the club was immortalized in both Shawn’s hit “Lullaby” and Vonda’s “Maryland.”

My time at Genghis led to a few years managing Vonda’s career, including coordinating her first-ever solo tours and making the record (It’s Good, Eve) that landed her the Ally McBeal gig. I also helped out for a spell at Engel Entertainment, supporting Danny Elfman, Boingo, Katey Sagal, and other artists.

Needing a break from all the glitz and glamour, I took time (twice) to live, study, and work at a meditation ashram in the Catskills. Somewhere around the turn of the millennium, I got back to my teenage dream of being a music journalist and became a freelance “expert” for AllMusic.com penning album reviews and artist bios for Sheryl Crow, Dixie Chicks, Sarah McLachlan, Shawn Colvin, and many more. Shortly after, I joined the Velvetpark magazine upstarts and authored interviews with the likes of Joan Osborne, Patty Griffin, and others, in addition to contributing a regular Aural Fixation column.

After several years of business development, I formally founded Circle Back Music in 2007 to keep my music ties knotted as a project manager for independent artists. Upon the slimming down of Vp after over five years in print, I once again donned my writer’s cap and started blogging and copy editing for Showtime’s The L Word spin-off, OurChart.com, covering environmentalism, music, and politics/current events — three of my main passions. There, my Chatting It Up interviews included Amy Ray, Patty Larkin, Catie Curtis, Garrison Starr, Katie Herzig, and a slew of others, while my Kelly Picks a Fight series often found me tossing hot political potatoes.

During a short stint of refuge in Santa Fe in early 2009, I teamed up with KBAC-FM’s Honey Harris for a weekly Kelly Does Her Best interview spotlight, bringing in David Poe, Matthew Perryman Jones, Butterfly Boucher, et al. Later that year, I began doing more freelance writing. In 2011, I further bolstered my freelance repertoire with editing and writing for Shareable and contributing the Five Questions series to NoiseTrade by interrogating Brandi CarlileJosh GarrelsJosh Rouse, and Matthew Sweet, among others. The following year, Circle Back was revived and revamped to support Susanna Hoffs‘ various solo and duo (with Matthew Sweet) musical releases.

From 2013 on, I continued writing for Shareable, Velvetpark, and NoiseTrade, expanding my portfolio to include the VC Reporter, No Depression, PopMattersElmoreCurve, Cuepoint, Folk Alley, NPR Music, and the Bluegrass Situation, becoming editorial director of the BGS in 2016. About half-way through that year, I started a weekly Facebook Live show called Hangin’ & Sangin’ which is now available as a podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and other platforms, as well as a radio show on WMOT, KOTO, WECB, KGNU, and other non-commercial stations. On it, I’ve interviewed some of the best artists making roots music today, legends and upstarts, alike, from Vince Gill and the Time Jumpers to Mary Chapin Carpenter, Keb’ Mo’, John Paul White, Johnnyswim, Yola Carter, Courtney Marie Andrews, Indigo Girls, Ashley Monroe, Mary Gauthier, the Lone Bellow, and many more.

As of mid-2018, my focus is on creating content, connection, and community through TKDubs.


Board of Directors

Donald Cohen
Kelly McCartney
Doug Williams

Advisory Board

Justin Hiltner
Gaelynn Lea
(more TBA)