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Q&A With Gymnast-Turned-Would-Be-Pop-Star Carly Patterson

(John Cheng)
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Dallas' own Carly Patterson, best remembered as a 2004 Olympic medalist gymnast, is attempting to reinvent herself as a musician, as Richie Whitt explained in 2006. So how has her career come along in the two years since she last talked to the Observer about her ambitions?

Her first single, “Temporary Life (Ordinary Girl),” is on iTunes and has received some airplay on Radio Disney. Her album, Back to the Beginning, was supposed to come out in August, but has been pushed back to later in the fall.

Patterson's brand of bubble-gum pop will probably appeal to about zero percent of our readers, but when her publicist offered a Q&A we couldn’t resist.

Is the album all pretty much upbeat pop, along the lines of the single? Yeah. There’s about one slow, slow song, but most of them are pretty upbeat and fun. Some are about girl stuff or relationships and just experiences in my life that I’ve written about. You know, stuff like that.

Are you going on tour to promote it? Next month [September] I’ll be on a couple of cities of the girls’ gymnastics tour, and I’ll get to perform a couple of songs. That’ll be cool.

What’s your stage show like? Do you do any gymnastics? Well, my record label told me to wear heels, so I can’t do any gymnastics. [laughs] But hopefully one day, maybe next year, I’ll have a big tour and I’ll definitely incorporate some back flips or something across the stage. But right now I have a band that plays behind me most of the time, and they’re really cool, really fun, and we just do whatever.

Are you going to stick with pop, or are you going to maybe try rock ‘n’ roll or do a country album like Jessica Simpson? I’m definitely always open to new things, expanding and branching out. One of my songs actually does have kind of a country vibe. It’s gonna be my second single, called “The Chase.”

What’s your writing process like? Or do you write your own songs? I didn’t write "Temporary Life," but I did get to co-write six of the songs that are gonna be on the album. I just write different things down in a notebook. I just randomly get inspiration. I can’t just sit down and write a song, or I won’t like it. … None of them are about gymnastics, but I do have one song that’s about my Olympic experience, and it’s called “Here I Am.” It’s about a bunch of stuff I went through leading up to it and afterward. It’s probably one of my favorite ones I’ve written, and it’s the only one that really references gymnastics. But you wouldn’t know it’s specifically about that. It’s not like it says “doing flips,” or anything like that.

Is music as rewarding as gymnastics? Yeah, I love doing it. I’m sure once I put my album out, and maybe hear my song on the radio for the first time, I’ll be like “Wow, this is so cool!” and be so excited about it. I’ve had people tell me they’ve heard it and I’m like, “Dang it, I want to hear it!” I just want to be driving in my car and hear it. But it’s like anything, you have to put a lot of work into it, and that’s where I’m at right now. I want kids and people to know that it’s OK to have more than one dream and to move on to something and fulfill that next dream, and that’s kind of where I’m at right now.

What did you think of the Olympics this year? I was so excited watching it. It was just crazy watching it and thinking, four years ago, that was me there. That was crazy, how time flies. I was so excited watching Nastia, just cheering her on, because we’re best friends and we trained together. --Jesse Hughey

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