Carly Patterson turns to musicEdit
U.S. gold medal-winning gymnast to release demo CD
- AP, January 15, 2008
Olympic gold medal gymnast Carly Patterson is singing a new tune.
Almost four years after becoming only the second U.S. woman to win the Olympic all-around title, Patterson has turned her focus to a music career. She's already released a five-song demo CD, and hopes to finalize a deal with a record label in the next month or two.
"I finished one goal in my life and (music) was my next," she said Tuesday. "I thought, `I love singing so much, I would love to pursue it.' After the Olympics, I started getting more serious about it."
Patterson, who turns 20 next month, comes by her talent naturally. Her father was a singer, and she said she's been singing as long as she can remember. She appeared on the "Celebrity Duets" reality show in the fall of 2006, and released her CD last summer.
"Um, I guess kind of the style I want to go for -- obviously I want to make my own, but kind of Kelly Clarkson-ish," Patterson said, referring to the first "American Idol" winner who has gone on to commercial success.
She writes her own music, too.
"I can't just sit down and try to do it, it doesn't work," she said. "I just have to be inspired just randomly. A lot of times it happens when I'm going to bed and then I'm like, `Great, now I have to get up."'
Breaking into the music business isn't easy. Though Patterson worked briefly with Joe Simpson -- better known as Jessica and Ashlee Simpson's dad -- getting a record deal isn't a given.
That's where her "other career" comes in. Not only are record companies looking for people who can sing, but they're looking for somebody who can sell an album. And Patterson has name recognition as well as a ready-made fan base.
"Normally they have to build up someone's name and promote you," she said. "I already have a fan base and a following. They look at that as a big plus."
Patterson was just 16 when she joined Mary Lou Retton as the only American women to win the Olympic title. She had established herself as one to watch by winning the American Cup in 2003 and again in 2004, and she'd finished second to Russian star Svetlana Khorkina at the 2003 world championships.
Though she stumbled slightly on vault in the Athens all-around, her first event, she was dazzling the rest of the way. She was nearly perfect on the balance beam and uneven bars and, with the gold medal on the line, put on quite a show on the floor. She soared high above the floor on her tumbling passes and landed effortlessly, and she repeatedly flashed a bright, toothy grin.
When she finished, she jumped into coach Evgeny Marchenko's arms.
"That night was pretty crazy. It was really surreal," she said. "I didn't even realize how big of a deal it was. I just thought, `Oh, I just won the Olympics.' What? What does that mean?"
She found out soon enough. Her hometown threw her a parade, and she went on a nationwide publicity blitz. She did the talk shows, appeared on a Wheaties box and hobnobbed with stars.
"I got a little star-struck. That was definitely my favorite part," she said. "Most of the people were really nice. I was surprised by that."
Patterson could have stuck around for another four years to see if she could pick up another gold medal. After all, two of her Athens teammates -- Mohini Bhardwaj and Annia Hatch -- were in their mid-20s.
But she was already having back problems. And after the hectic months after the Athens Games, she decided it was a good time to call it a career.
"I thought about sticking around for the (2005 world championships)," she said. "I was just like, I can't do anything better than I've done, I should go out on top."
That doesn't mean she's left the gymnastics world entirely. She still keeps in touch with her old teammates, and occasionally coaches at her old gym. On Tuesday, she was in New York for promotional work for the American Cup, which is on March 1.
She's also hoping to go to the Olympics in Beijing.
This time, though, she'll be content to watch.
"I accomplished everything I dreamed of and more," she said. "I'm happy with my life now."