How Carolina Chauffe's internship turned into a full-time music career

Written byElizabeth Rose-Arcuri

“I'll always be a music-maker. There's nothing I'd rather spend my life doing than trying my best to create and share songs and sounds that can touch people emotionally, uplift, cause reflection — and inspire progress, hopefully.”

Carolina Chauffe
Graduation Year
Class of 2019
Lafayette, La.

Where I'm From

I’m from Lafayette and attended UL Lafayette because of the fantastic music faculty.

Where I Am

I work for Light in the Attic Records, and I’m a touring and studio musician.

Where I'm Going

I’m using my degree and experiences to plan and perform my own tours across the U.S.

During her senior year, alumna Carolina Chauffe moved across the country for “the biggest unexpected opportunity” — an internship with the reissue record label and distribution company Light in the Attic Records.

She had never lived outside of Lafayette, but her internship brought her to Seattle and Los Angeles for her final semester as a music major.

That internship turned into a job with Light in the Attic Records after graduation.

“We’re a small but mighty team bringing previous releases back to life,” she explained. “I currently help out with website editing, customer support, and sync licensing.”

After hours, she tours and works as a studio musician with her own project called ‘hemlock,’ along with bands including Little Mazarn and Hutch Hartford. The coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest delayed her plans, but she’s looking forward to touring soon.

“It’s truly a strange and difficult time to start a career,” she said. “But I got plenty of experience as a student through community organization and involvement, playing and booking shows and festivals, pursuing internships for incredible creative companies, and through my own independent travels and successes as a singer/songwriter.”

Finding Opportunities

While she was earning her music degree with a concentration in music business, Carolina took advantage of nearly every opportunity she found.

She interned with Makemade, a Lafayette-based creative agency that develops films, branding campaigns, products, and illustrations.

She studied abroad in Florence, Italy, and London, experiences that “planted the seed that keeps me traveling and touring with my own art now.”

She joined the Students for the Advancement of Women and the UL Lafayette chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness — organizations that “provided a strong sense of community and collective effort for change.”

She explored subjects across campus from history to biology to French, learned to play the fiddle, scatted during jazz lessons over Skype, and performed with other student musicians on and off campus.

But her favorite extracurricular experience was being part of the Chamber Singers.

“I'm indebted to Dr. (William) Plummer and all of the Chamber Singers for repeatedly showing me the power of shared song on any given Monday, Wednesday, or Friday,” she said. “Those choir rehearsals saw the best and worst of me, and I always felt supported, cared for, and inspired. There was space to laugh and cry and learn together. Choir requires community and trust — there’s lots to learn from those ensembles to take out into the world.

“There's some true magic going on in our University choral groups — both on stage and behind the scenes. Don't sleep on it, seriously.”

Exploring Her Hometown

Carolina chose to attend the University of Louisiana at Lafayette because of a generous scholarship offer and her pre-college experiences with the professors in the School of Music and Performing Arts, including Dr. Plummer, assistant professor Chris Munson, and assistant professor Scott Durbin.

“They are an incredible combined support system,” Carolina said. “Professor Munson was the first person I met from the program. He recorded the first band I was ever in when we were in high school. The generosity of his time and effort struck me from the start.

“They have each changed my life for the better and directly influenced me in a way that I'll always be grateful for. I owe a whole lot to the generosity, care, and passion of Professor Durbin, Professor Munson, and Dr. Plummer.”

Going to UL Lafayette also gave Carolina the opportunity to learn more about her hometown.

“It allowed me to dig deeper into different aspects of this city that I hadn’t explored before,” she said. “There’s a vibrant and diverse culture here in Acadiana that we all should work to preserve and revere.”

‘I’ll always be a music-maker’

Carolina’s experiences in school have jumpstarted her career in music.

“I'll always be a music-maker,” she said. “I believe it’s one of the most accessible ways to stir emotional connection and inspire growth, healing, or progress of some sort, both individually and on a societal level. I feel committed to being an active participant of that process for the entirety of my life.”

And she’s ready for the challenges alongside the triumphs.

“The music business program really stressed the necessity of being adaptable to change. That's something that has been reinforced time and time again both in the classroom and in experience outside of it,” she said. “And now, more than at any other time in many of our lives, musicians are susceptible to extreme vulnerability in terms of financial security, particularly in the face of a pandemic."

“But I've seen inspiring solutions through virtual shows and festivals, online happy hours with live music, crowdfunding, and more, all to find a way to keep going and keep a sense of purpose in the face of extreme adversity," she said.

As a professional now, Carolina is applying the most important things she learned in the music program at UL Lafayette.

“Learn how to prioritize, invest your time and efforts in what you truly care about, and be honest with both yourself and others,” she said. “Do good work. ‘Success’ is all relative, and individual success doesn't mean anything if it's not also benefiting others around you.”

Photo by Camille Deluane

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