Rutherford County’s Carley Arrowood plays bluegrass fiddle, and she has been performing since first starting a band at age 10, in 2006. Since 2015, Carley has played fiddle with Darin & Brooke Aldridge, performed on stages across the country and world, won numerous awards, and has become a writer of gospel songs.
“It’s my mission to share my faith in the Lord,” Carley says of playing fiddle, song writing, and performing. “It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe, but it’s one of the best feelings in the world.”
Being homeschooled, Carley’s family carved time for lessons and music. Carley started taking violin lessons as a young child, after seeing local fiddler, Todd Elliott, put on a show for her 4-H group. Her Suzuki-style teacher focused mostly on classical material, but would include a fiddle tune periodically. Carley had a strong preference for learning by ear, and she gravitated towards the fiddle-style music.
Carley participated in the youth symphony in Hendersonville, NC for three semesters, quickly rising to first chair. She also sought out local and regional bluegrass musicians to continue playing fiddle music. Carley’s sister, Autumn, was learning to play mandolin from Dennis McEntire, and her cousin was learning to play bass. Carolina Jasmine eventually became a five-piece band, and they played together for four years. The group won the Jr. Bluegrass Band competition at Fiddlers Grove, and they were pronounced the first all-girl band to win the Junior Band Championship in the festival’s long history.
As a teenager, Carley helped form Most Wanted Bluegrass with her sister and some friends. “This was basically our high school band,” Carley says. The group performed regularly at Dollywood and won several regional fiddlers conventions and contests. From 2012-2014, Carley was a regular member of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Kids on Bluegrass program. The day after Carley graduated from high school, she started filling in on fiddle with Darin and Brooke Aldridge.
Carley joined the Darin and Brooke Aldridge band full-time in the fall of 2014. Playing with the group, Carley got to share the stage with John Cowan and Jimmy Fortune, who has become a good friend. Carley has performed on the Grand Ole Opry and the Larry’s Country Diner television program in Nashville. With the Darin and Brooke Aldridge band, Carley performed in the Czech Republic and Ireland.
In 2017, Carley was one of three recipients of the IBMA Momentum Award for Instrumentalist of the Year. She has one first place at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair, the Ellenboro Fiddlers Convention, and the Union Grove Fiddlers Convention. Carley is featured in Doreyl Ammons Cain’s “Golden Threads” mural on Pack’s Tavern in Asheville, featuring regular artists from the famed Shindig on the Green event. Carley’s original gospel song “Jesus Drive the Train” was featured in the 2015 IBMA Songwriter Showcase performance.
In early 2020, Carley left the Darin and Brooke Aldridge band, signing with the Mountain Home Music Company and launching a solo career. She released three singles over the space of several months: “Dear Juliana,” “The Ballad of Calvary,” and “Goin’ Home Comin’ On.”
In addition to performing, Carley teaches private lessons in Forest City and online lessons over FaceTime and Zoom.