After recording and performing in Los Angeles and Nashville, Carli Osika returned home to find the peace and joy of making music in Northern Idaho. His performances today include favorite country songs, his own original country songs, and some of his favorite pop and rock covers.
Osika, a graduate of Lake City High School, has been singing “since forever” and started playing guitar in second grade, inspired by a guitarist uncle. She wrote her first song at age 14 and has been writing and performing ever since, joining Coeur d’Alene Rock School at age 15. Through Rock School, she was playing gigs with a band and solo at various venues like County. fair and the Silver Lake Mall.
She also made two trips to Los Angeles, the first while still in high school, to make a video for a song she co-wrote with Spokane musician Dan Conrad. The video did not take off. Osika now says that was corny and she hopes people can’t find her online today, but she was able to use the video as part of her senior project at Lake City High School. She graduated from high school in Lake City with a diploma and an associate’s degree and decided to pursue a career in music.
After graduating, Osika sent in an audition tape for The Voice and was invited to come to Los Angeles for a second-round audition. She didn’t make it past the second round and now says she hasn’t really found her own style yet. She was able to connect with some songwriters in Los Angeles and learned things about the music industry – watching songwriters count the number of lines each of them had contributed to a song, then arguing over the percentage of royalties each of them would get, for example. Apparently, it wasn’t all as glamorous as many of us imagine.
Until then, Osika sang pop music, but Dan Conrad had become a musical mentor and sent her country music to listen to. Kacey Musgraves was one of the first country singers whose music she really connected with and soon Osika was writing and performing country at venues in Northern Idaho.
Fully committing to her music, Osika moved to Nashville in 2017 where she would spend the next three years working one day and writing, recording and performing music in her spare time. Nashville was a very different music scene where it saw writers collaborating on songs and splitting the credit equally rather than arguing over percentages and who contributed the most. At the same time, she saw career choices that didn’t look so appealing – constant touring and traveling, and hours on the road or in a studio. And even if someone succeeded, well, Osika put it this way: “I was not willing to live such an unbalanced life.”
Osika has been back in northern Idaho for a few years and now performs three to five days a week. She continues to write and is back in Nashville to connect with songwriter friends. She says she would love for one of her songs to be covered by a big-name artist and become a hit – and she has quietly stayed out of the spotlight. Osika’s performances today are full of covers – about 80% of her shows – because she likes to play music that people enjoy. Expect to hear his two favorite songs at one of his shows: “Let ‘Er Rip” by The Chicks and “Stripes” by Brandy Clark. In addition to country, his shows will include crowd tracks ranging from Fleetwood Mac to Joan Jett, as well as many of his originals. “Whiskey & Him” is a favorite you’ll hear at one of his shows. A sign of a great original – audiences often ask him to repeat it as an encore.
You can hear Carli at any of the following northern Idaho locations as well as on Spotify:
7/30 – Brats & Brew at Spirit Lake
8/03 – Millie’s at Priest Lake
8/05 – The Lodge at Carlin Bay
8/06 – Lake House Bar & Grill at Bayview
8/07 – Made in Coeur d’Alene
8/09 – The Buoy at Coeur d’Alene
8/10 – Millie’s at Priest Lake
8/12 – Cogs in Wallace
8/13 – Lake House Bar & Grill at Bayview
8/17 – Millie’s at Priest Lake
8/24 – Millie’s at Priest Lake
9/02 – The Snake Pit in Enaville
Tom Richards is a music lover, lead singer of local blues band Dr. Phil & the Enablers and owner of The Snake Pit.