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The music of Carla Patullo’s 2023 album, “So She Howls,” is haunting yet hopeful. Autobiographical in nature, the mostly instrumental tracks follow the Springfield native through the grief and darkness of a time she thought would be her last, to the renewed joy and comfort of coming out the other side. Now, the album has been nominated for a Grammy award in the Best New Age, Ambient or Chant Album category.

Patullo began writing music at an early age. With her grandmother’s encouragement, she recorded songs as her grandmother sang. She said it helped capture that time with her. The Springfield native began attending school in Wilbraham at age 10 and graduated from Minnechaug Regional High School in 1997. She went on to graduate from the Berklee College of Music in 2001.

Patullo began her career “in the band world,” with rock act White Widow, with whom she recorded five albums. She also created a couple solo albums around the same time.

Then, Patullo met comedian Sandra Bernhardt at the famed film festival South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. She was invited to tour with Bernhardt as her musical director. “I never thought that would come my way,” Patullo said. Touring with Bernhardt and watching her style of storytelling comedy is where Patullo developed her love of putting music to stories. “It really opened up my eyes and ears to that type of storytelling,” she said.

Patullo took that experience and went back to school to learn film scoring. Scoring for film is quite different from making music with her band, she said. “When you’re working on a film score, there’s the creative part of it, but you also need to know the technical side.

She began working on her own, scoring old silent films and bringing them to festivals. This allowed people in the television and film industries to see her work. “It was very brick-by-brick,” she said of building her career.

In 2013, Patullo moved to Los Angeles. Since then, much of her time has been spent scoring films, including “Maxine,” “Everybody Dies Sometimes,” “Magic Hour,” “My Name Is Maria De Jesus,” “Porno,” “Lotte that Silhouette Girl” and “Bitterroot.” However, her music has also been featured in the television shows “Teen Titans Go,” “Skins,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” “L.A. A Queer History.”

While Patullo said she enjoys scoring films, she said, “with film scores, you’re really highlighting someone else’s work.” She decided to create her own work and her inspiration came from a very personal place.
“So She Howls” was inspired by Patullo’s experience with breast cancer. “There’s something really special about it coming from something so dark. I thought it might be my last album,” she said.

She explained that COVID-19 was in full swing during the time she spent recording the album, “so it was a dark period.” Patullo added that the album is filled with her raw emotions. She said some of the vocal tracks that made it onto the album are ones she recorded during that period of her life. “I wanted to record that time; I didn’t want to reproduce it.”

Patullo reflected, “It’s these hard times that you realize what music can do. There are certain frequencies that are calming and meditative. I realized how much I love music therapy. I really am fascinated by that.”

“So She Howls” should be listened to from start to finish in a single session, Patullo said. While she recognized that people would have to set aside more than half an hour to listen to the album in its entirety, she said the healing she did over the course of recording it is reflected in the way the tracks are arranged.

Patullo said her path to being nominated for a Grammy was not what she had envisioned when she began her career in music. “I thought it would be with my band for a long time, then I thought it would be with scoring. Life is … you never know where it’s going to take you, and it’s worth following the turns.”

The 66th annual Grammy Awards take place Feb. 4 and can be seen on CBS and Paramount+.

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