Carolyn Corlew is living proof that some things (and some people) only get better with time. At 64, with titles including singer, model, business owner, wife, mother and Ms. Senior America under her belt, the blonde beauty is soaking in the good life.
Corlew grew up in Southern California. She modeled for 13 years in Los Angeles and San Francisco - working for companies including Coke, Carnation Instant Breakfast, Levis, Chevrolet, Kodak, Polaroid, Macy's, Revlon, Max Factor and Teen Magazine; however, music was in her heart.
"I loved to sing, had an ear for harmony and just went for it," she said. "The legendary Bonnie Bramlett mentored me and gave me my first opportunity when she asked me to join her solo tour in 1972."
One fateful day, Corlew noticed a small ad for a background singer for The Charlie Daniels Band in The Hollywood Reporter. Although she was with another band, Corlew auditioned and got the job.
"I have been with Charlie ever since," she said.
The move was good both personally and professionally. Corlew met her husband, David, who was Daniels' road manager in 1979 when she joined the band. He is now Daniels' Manager. The couple has been married nearly 33 years.
"I toured full-time with The Charlie Daniels Band for over 16 years. I still sing with him on the Opry, his Volunteer Jams, and head to Vegas with them every December for the Rodeo National Finals," she said. Corlew, who moved to Wilson County in 1983, has also performed with Billy Joel, Bill Medley, Little Richard, Pablo Cruise, Burton Cummings of the Guess Who, Johnny Lee, Lee Clayton, Little Feat, Ted Nugent, Marshall Tucker Band, Billy Dean, Montgomery Gentry and the Cox Family.
In 2012, Corlew said she was looking for a "fun diversion" after a hard year in which her mother passed away. She saw an advertisement for the Ms. Wilson County Senior pageant at the Wilson County Fair and took a leap of faith.
Corlew won the Wilson County pageant and went on to represent the county at the Ms. Tennessee Senior America Pageant, which she also won.
"I had no idea about Ms. Tennessee Senior America until after I had won Ms. Wilson County Senior. The first thing I was told after winning the Wilson County crown was, 'We have to get you ready for Ms. Tennessee Senior America,'" she remembered. "There were lovely and talented women competing that year, and I was very surprised and excited when I was crowned with the state honor."
In October 2013 - just a few months after winning the state crown - Corlew competed in the Ms. Senior America Pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Corlew, who performed Etta James' "Tell Mama" in the talent portion of the competition, again walked away with the crown.
"The reign actually really started in January 2014. I traveled all over the United States to many state pageants, speaking engagements, openings and events. It was a whirlwind year," she said. "I met governors, the former President George Bush, mayors, rode in parades, VA hospitals and ran my ninth half marathon with my Ms. Senior America banner on at the Country Music Marathon in 2:09."
Corlew currently owns and operates a financial services company with focus in the music and entertainment business, CC Financial Services. She is an active board member for Prospect, Inc. and is a member of The Recording Academy, The Academy of Country Music and CMA.
When she isn't busy working, Corlew enjoys running, kick boxing, yoga, snow skiing, horseback riding and taking adult Tap & Jazz classes at her daughter, Taylor Corlew's Diamond Academy of Dance in Mt. Juliet. Corlew has two step-daughters, Cayce and Ashley.
Corlew is a member of the Praise Band at Gladeville United Methodist Church. She and her husband have a ranch in Mt. Juliet, complete with cattle, horses, rescue dogs and cats.
They are supporters of New Leash on Life and with Daniels, have The Journey Home Project, a 501(c)3 charity that supports returning veterans in furthering education and personal needs in areas from the severely injured, PTSD and aid in employment searches.
The woman she most admires is her mother, Joyce Hildebrand.
"She was an actress in Hollywood, a gourmet cook, a voracious reader, world traveler, event planner, lover of all animals, and after she moved to Tennessee, a concierge, and a wonderful, inspirational grandmother," Corlew said. "At the age of 68, she boarded a plane and fulfilled a lifelong dream to tour Egypt and float down the Niles and see the pyramids - which she did, by herself. I miss her to this very day. We were very good friends."
Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at email@example.com.