A few years ago, Carré Kwong Callaway—aka Queen Kwong—was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and told she may only have a decade left to live. As a result of the condition, she’s prone to episodes where her lungs fill up with blood and she’s literally drowning. If that wasn’t bad enough, two months after her diagnosis, her musician husband jumped ship—to put it nicely. Within the year, everything else—her security and stability, her home and home studio, her cats—had also gone. This gave Carré no option but to leave Detroit, where she and her ex-husband had bought a house, with nothing but one suitcase and two guitars. “I was homeless for nearly a year, just living on friends’ sofas, and I’m still in the process of rebuilding my life,” she says, “but it’s reassuring that we can survive things that feel unsurvivable.”
On the surface, then, Couples Only could be described as a divorce record, but, really, it’s much more than that. It’s an outpouring of pure feeling and visceral thought that captures every emotion that comes with both the grieving and recovery process. It’s a fearless account of facing the worst betrayals and accepting the deepest losses. It’s the realization of one’s mortality and the impermanence of everything we know and cherish. But, ultimately, it’s a testament to the endurance of the human spirit. Because while this record is unashamedly about the darkest period of Carré’s life, it doesn’t wallow. It can be accusatory and violent, but there’s no time wasted on self-pity. “It’s not a fun record,” Carré admits, “but, at times, it’s a funny one.”
JC sat down with Callaway to talk about her musical journey, what she’s learned along the way, and what she hopes will be a bright future for the music industry. All this and much more on this episode of theFIVE10 Podcast!