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Issue Date: June 2008


Playing for Martha Stewart

Fifteen-year-old Caroline Goulding has already appeared on NBC’s “Today” and PBS’s “From The Top: Live from Carnegie Hall,” and has twice been accepted to a prestigious Juilliard program. Meeting Martha Stewart, though, gave the Cleveland Heights teen butterflies.
By Caroline Goulding as told to Andy Netzel.
My mom got the phone call. We were sitting at a restaurant in Aspen. I was there as part of the Aspen Music Festival.

They said it was “The Martha Show,” and that they’d like me to perform. I was really excited for the chance to be on television. But that’s how they said it: “The Martha Show.” It was new, and they didn’t say Martha Stewart, so really it didn’t dawn on me that she was the host.

My mom, my aunts and I all love Martha Stewart. I am into home decorating, and it was an absolute shock. I don’t think my mom could believe it, either. We would always go and purchase her things, and — well, anyway, she’s just great.

They asked for a short piece, so I chose “Banjo and Fiddle” by William Kroll. It’s normally a three-minute piece, and they asked me to cut it down to a minute and a half. And that’s fine, because it’s TV. That’s common.

When we arrived at the studio, one of the managers came in and said that Martha wanted to ask me questions in an on-air interview, so they wanted me to cut the piece to a minute.

My accompanist, Alicja Basinska, and I went in the dressing room, and we made one last cut.

Maybe it was good that it was last minute. I didn’t have time to fret. It was at that point where you just do it. I didn’t think about being nervous. We just hurried up, made the cut and it was done. Then I went through it a thousand times in my head.

“Stressful” is a bad word. I wouldn’t say this experience was stressful. It was more exciting. But when you’re about to perform on “The Martha Stewart Show” or PBS’s “Live at Carnegie Hall,” you’re nervous. You feel the most, well,stressful then. OK, I guess “stressful” is a good word for it.

It was really cold in her studio. I had to wait a little bit off the set before I went on, so I was trying to keep my fingers warm, but I didn’t fully feel like I was warmed up.

I walked on the stage, and I didn’t think much about the cut at that point. Thank God we remembered it.

Luckily everyone clapped, and she gave me a hug.

Music is a spiritual experience for me. This art is unique. It never gets dull.

Afterward was the first time I was face-to-face with Martha during this process. It added to the realistic aspect of it. I was definitely in awe.

It was all so surreal. It felt like it was so quick, like I was on stage for 10 seconds and I went off. Music has afforded me many opportunities, and I am so glad that I don’t have to sit in an office and do paperwork.

Being in the spotlight and talking to people comes natural to me. Maybe it’s the genes in our family, but I love talking to people. Being interviewed doesn’t bother me. Some performers aren’t comfortable with it, but I love talking to people about music.

We just talked. I didn’t get to cook with her, but, as she would say, that’s probably a good thing.

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