…with a silent “h”


The story of Kharlie M

Kharlie holding a mandolin

Kharlie M (with a silent h) is the stage name of Charlie Petitt, a folk singer-songwriter from Janesville, Wisconsin. Described as a “folk crooner,” Kharlie lends his clear but mellow voice to a variety of genres, including folk, country, light rock, and even children’s songs. Some of his original songs are bluegrass-inspired, while others have a splash of jazz or take on a classical spin. His repertoire includes songs about life and love, hymns and gospel songs, and a few silly songs.

Kharlie performs quite regularly at open mics in the Janesville area; he also plays and sings monthly at a local nursing home.

How he got started

Kharlie playing ukulele

Charlie has always been a lover of music. He began writing music at a very early age. He has written numerous songs of various styles and genres. He grew up listening to old-time country music with his parents. Charlie was also active in church choirs. His appreciation for music was influenced by stars like Marty Robbins and Jim Reeves, as well as traditional church hymns. Years of listening to singer-songwriters like James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot, and Carly Simon, and crooners like Andy Williams (and more recently, Josh Groban and Michael Bublé), added new flavor to his writing style.

In college, Charlie sang in a men’s choral group which toured all over the central and southern U.S.

In 2005, Charlie wrote “He’s Not Here” especially for the Easter Celebration service at his local church. It went over so well that Charlie was told by several people that he should create his own CD. So he did! His first album, entitled Umm… was released on June 22, 2007.

Since then, in addition to his solo work, he has played in two bands: the Riverside Ramblers (October 2010 to December 2014) and Pancake Riot (October 2013 to January 2014).

About the name

It started as a sort of experiment back in 2004, spelling Charlie with a K, as Kharlie, with the intention of pronouncing it normally, as Charlie. He wore it on his name tag at work for two weeks, producing a variety of reactions from customers. Most wouldn’t try to pronounce it, saying “Thank you, uh… sir,” or something similar. His co-workers, however, pronounced it with a silent h and a hard K, so it sounded like the girl’s name Carly. Charlie changed the name tag back to the normal spelling but continued to joke about the name Kharlie for years.

Kharlie M Wii character

In February of 2014, he created a Mii character called Kharlie M, on his Nintendo Wii (the M was extra; Charlie’s middle initial is not M, but his wife and son both have M as theirs). At first, it was actually a girl character, but this felt too odd, so it was soon changed to a young boy. The seed was now planted. Finally, it occurred to Charlie to use Kharlie M as a stage name for his music; after discussing it with his wife and a few friends, he registered the domain, kharlie.com, and began building this website, lifting much of the material from his old site, charliepetitt.com. The problem with the old domain was that people had trouble finding it due to the spelling of Petitt with one t in the middle and two at the end; most people would try to spell it the opposite way, as Pettit, getting lost in the process. Simply spelling Charlie with a K seemed much easier… and more fun.