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Making music: Web designer’s secondary career is onstage singing, playing


Cathy Cadley is Upstate‘s senior Web designer. Her hands spend much of her workday on a computer keyboard.

On her favorite evenings, her fingers caress the strings of a guitar, and she sings of a land that she heard of once in a lullaby.



Cadley is an accomplished musician who performs with her husband, John Cadley, and bandmates John Dancks and Perry Cleaveland. The group plays mostly new acoustic and bluegrass. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is one of their most-requested songs. They perform monthly at the Upstate Cancer Center and at a variety of venues throughout Central New York. Go to  www.cadleys.com for dates and locations and to listen to their music.

Cadley recalls a love of music and rhythm from an early age. Around age 7, she chose the violin for a school instrument. A few years later she learned guitar. Then it made sense to begin singing as she played. Her earliest performances were in her church.

“I made a decision early on that I didn‘t think I‘d be able to make a living doing music. I made a conscious decision to pursue visual arts,” Cadley says. She earned a bachelor‘s degree in fine arts in visual communications from Syracuse University.

After graduation, her pastor asked her to direct the church ensemble, a side job she kept for more than 20 years. She and John Cadley began playing as a duo in 2009, married in 2012 and enjoy what a Syracuse New Times review described as “an easy rapport that reveals much about their shared virtuosity and musical kinship.”

Their band includes Dancks on bass and Cleaveland, who sings and plays mandolin and fiddle. John Cadley, who sings and plays guitar and mandolin, writes some of the group‘s songs. Cathy Cadley has also begun songwriting, a process she admits does not come easily.

She describes how she slowly develops ideas for songs by jotting down phrases or interesting things that she reads or overhears. The lyrics and the melody start taking shape together.

“You hear the rhythm because language has so much rhythm to it,” she says. “There‘s rhyme and rhythm in every line. You have to pay attention to the mood, the tenor and the tone of the lyric and follow that with the composing and the structure. Hopefully they support one another.”

Cadley confesses to occasional butterflies before a performance, “but once we get to making music and everyone is clicking, I‘m good.

“I really do enjoy making the music.” 

health-winter-2017cvrThis article appears in the winter 2017 issue of Upstate Health magazine.