The phrase, "A million miles away," can have so many different meanings depending on how the expression is used. For Karey Lee Woolsey, a current pot prisoner, the term speaks volumes to his current situation: he's doing a 13-year bid at the Federal Correctional Complex in Yazoo City, Mississippi 35 miles north of Jackson. Woolsey also uses the idiom as the name of his debut album, a 13-track project released July 9.
Woolsey was a professional musician in the Cape Coral, Florida area playing up to 250 gigs a year before his 2007 arrest on charges of conspiracy and possession with the intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, plus 13 counts of money laundering and one of witness tampering.
His fall from fame was made possible in part by an associate getting popped and rolling on Woolsey, claiming him as a co-conspirator in the local marijuana trade. Woolsey, no longer in the game, was preparing to write new songs and focus on his music when he received a frantic call from his fiance, who asked him to meet her in a Fort Myers Publix parking lot. Once the pair was face to face, she told him that she was going to testify against him in court. Not knowing she was wearing a wire, Woolsey said, "You need to tell them you don’t know anything… You can’t say I did anything wrong… You don’t know that I laundered money," giving the DEA the last piece of puzzle.
Knowing that his crimes would carry a minimum 10-year sentence, Woolsey was determined to record an album before his incarceration. That album, A Million Miles Away, is a story of redemption. From start to finish Woolsey takes the listener on a journey through the eyes of a man looking at spending a tenth of his life behind bars and manning up for what he did.
The opening track, "These Walls Around Me" (see clip below), is a blueprint of a man having to leave behind everyone and everything you have ever loved. "That song was a goodbye to my old life," Woolsey tells Celebstoner via email. "I knew I was heading to prison for a while, and I just wanted people to know that I would be back one day, and better than ever." The cut features Woolsey's infectious piano playing and a hooky chorus.
A couple of the songs on A Million Miles Away sound reminiscent of other mainstream bands. "Get Up and Drive," with a peppy beat and groovy rock riff, produces a pedal-driving anthem you can find on any New Found Glory disc. On the R&B ballad, "Only In My Dreams," Woolsey reveals his inner Prince with a slow jam about finding one's true dream girl. "I wrote the song in my sleep one night, and In the dream I was playing with Prince," he explains. "It's usually not my music style of a song, but since I was singing with Prince in my dream, I put that R&B spin on it."
Other notable tunes include "God," "Fall in You," "Busted" and "Freedom." Woolsey wrote the latter song in county lock-up. "It was one of my darkest moments," he says. "This was me. So scared to be honest. Leaving for prison, knowing that my life would forever be changed. I had a choice. Tell on everyone and get time cut, or face the music. I decided to face the music. This is the ONLY thing I don't regret. I sleep better, and will again one day have my FREEDOM. Freedom... What a powerful word."
Before becoming federal prisoner #34411-018, Woolsey was a member of various Florida bands, including Sweet Madhouse, SMUT, 3 Days Apart and Licensed Sex Therapist. They play various dives and VFW halls, but also opened for Alice In Chains, 3 Doors Down and Sister Hazel.
Since the release of A Million Miles Away, Woolsey has made headlines around the world due to digital sales on various amazon.com and iTunes charts. But for Woolsey, all that glitters ain't gold because no matter how successful the CD is he will still be locked up for another eight years. Doing his prison jobs - providing sound for the prison live events and participating in a leather craft program - helps him pass the time. Woolsey's personal mission is "to bring to light the flawed marijuana laws in this country. Let's be allowed to make mistakes, but if you can use your mistakes to help create a better way for the next person then don't be afraid to do so. No matter how far you think you are from something in your life it's always within reach. Even when it may seem like it's a million miles away."
Anyone who would like to write and say high, send mail to: Karey Woolsey #34411-018, Federal Correctional Complex PO BOX 5000, Yazoo City, MS 39194