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Music has always been an integral part of life for CMPI mentor Caitlin Edwards. Caitlin sang in her church choir as a young child and started playing the violin in third grade. “My teacher called home to let us know that a violin class was starting at my school and asked if I would be interested in joining,” Caitlin said. Caitlin wanted to study law after high school. A conversation with her choral teacher shifted her goal. “It gave me the confidence I needed and restored my belief that I could do this!”

With the release of her new album, Exhale, Caitlin explores another interest, composition. The album gets its name from her first single, “Exhale,” which Caitlin created at the pandemic’s beginning. “I scrolled through apps and tracks, and I heard a melody in my head over one of the tracks, recorded it, and showed it to friends. I try to format the music like a pop song: intro, chorus, bridge. Exhale is a journey, my journey through the pandemic. It’s the day-to-day emotions I was feeling. There are days I realize I have to persevere even if it seems like the world is on fire. I go to my secret place and breathe. Inhale and exhale, that’s why I named the album Exhale.”

When asked if any tracks stood out to her, Caitlin said, “I love them all! I personally love “Sumn to Tell Ya”; my grandma makes an appearance at the end. Caitlin also recorded a piece on the album with her brother. “My brother, Caleb Edwards, and I recorded ‘Black Enigma’ in the south. I was home for a gig, went to Birmingham, and booked a studio session. He came up with the bass line for the song, and I thought, what could go on top of this? It was really special to record with my brother.”

Caitlin has been a mentor at CMPI for the last couple of years. She met former Project Director Adrienne Thompson while traveling to Atlanta to receive an award from the Talent Development Program. While in Atlanta, Adrienne mentioned to Caitlin that she would be starting a new project in Chicago. “I love being a mentor because it allows me to connect with parents navigating the world of music and give them the help that they need. My parents were totally new to this world.”

When asked about her previous mentors, Caitlin remembers the late Dr. Frank Adams, who gave free jazz lessons at the Jazz Hall of Fame. “He would call on me. ‘Where’s my violinist at?’ he would say. I learned a lot listening to his wisdom, having his guidance and support.” Caitlin also admires Stephanie Matthews, Jessica McJunkins, Juliette Jones, and Chelsey Green. “These are all women that I look up to. Among them are incredible violinists, businesswomen, contractors who hire orchestras for Grammys. It’s inspiring to see their integrity and their faith!”

You can learn more about CMPI mentor Caitlin Edwards at her website at


Right: Caitlin Edwards, Photo by Orel Chollete

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