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Singer/Songwriter Truly Carmichael

Despite university training as a classical vocalist and pianist, Truly Carmichael has been writing and performing Celtic style folk music since 1992. Transferring formal piano skills vertically onto Celtic harp strings, she describes her methods abstractly as “playing the harp the way a pianist might play the guitar.” Her self-taught accompaniment style is warmly received in folk and filk circles everywhere. It also causes actual classical harpists significant angst…

A lifelong poet and lover of language she has always favored story-based song lyrics. Perhaps best known for original narrative songs in historic settings, Truly’s lyrics offer themes of self-discovery and personal power from a fiercely feminine perspective. Although several of her most requested original songs are humorous and irreverent, she deeply loves the tragic traditional ballads in which the boat sinks, he murders his own sister, and everything ends in romantic ruin. Truly has also composed several patriotic anthems about people and places within the Society for Creative Anachronism, many of which can be heard on her debut full-length album, Swansong, originally produced by Amphis Music in 2004, scheduled for re-release in 2022.

After earning an MFA in theatre costuming technology at the University of Texas at Austin in 1998, Truly primarily focused on her professional theatrical career. She has worked in a variety of costume shops in two countries, with her work appearing on Broadway and in the Emmy Award-winning series finale of Schitt’s Creek (Moira’s papal miter, designed by Debra Hanson.)  She continues to work as a tailor and milliner for the Shaw Festival in Niagara On the Lake Ontario, and runs a custom millinery business that offers both historical and couture styles.

In 2009, she had the incredible experience of finding and meeting her birth parents, discovering that her birth father is chart-topping Songwriter/Guitarist Michael Johnson (Chad Mitchell Trio, Bluer than Blue). After some informal music in their living rooms and a trial run in a studio in Nashville, she joined him in the duet, One Mile Apart on his 20th (and final) album Moonlit-Deja-Vu, performing live with him in the 2012 CD release concert at the Hopkins Art Center. “Even though we only met late in life, our taste in music and style of songwriting are amazingly similar. There are not words to describe performing on stage with your birth father after a lifetime of wondering who he was. It was an incredible moment and I’m so grateful now that he asked me to do it.” Johnson passed away in 2017. She still enjoys a relationship with her birth mother, Mary, who lives in Spain.

Truly is still writing and singing, teaming up again with Amphis music to record For Rum and For Richesproduced and arranged by Ben Deschamps. The pirate-themed single, released in December of 2021 is the upbeat tale of a sailor who charts her own course, with no regrets or apologies.

Truly looks forward to upcoming online concert performances and future musical collaborations.

Music, Lyrics, and video editing by Truly Carmichael, arr. Ben Dechamps. Photography by Michaela Heliwell.