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ARTS & EDUCATION

Life in the Key of Corey

w ritte n by SH E R I L BE N NE T T T UR NE R photo g raphed by K R I S DE C K E R

I’ll keep on driving so we can talk a while. I know I could drive all night just to stay here with you. At the end of the night we’ll embrace and stare at the star filled night. Would it be alright if we didn’t say goodbye this time?

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ARTS & EDUCATION

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f you haven’t heard the name Corey Crowder yet, don’t worry. It is only a matter of time. With a unique smoky voice, reminiscent of James Taylor and Jim Croce, combined with heartfelt lyrics taken from his own life experiences, this 24-year old singer/songwriter knows how to create music that personally speaks to the listener. Now with a recording deal with indie label, Tooth & Nail, as well as a publishing deal with Virgin Records, Corey is about to embark on a new adventure in his musical career. However, for this down-to-earth musician, who calls Taylors, South Carolina his home, it’s just another step, albeit a giant one, in an already amazing journey. “It’s so wild that music ended up being my career,” Corey admits. “As a kid growing up in Georgia, I never really was into music. I took some guitar lessons when I was around 12, but it wasn’t until high school that I really became interested in making music. I think I grew the most as a musician when I played with my youth group at church. I guess it has something to do with playing with so many different age groups and styles that you really learn how to make it come

together. And it’s funny. Most of the guys I’ve played with, as well as some of the best musicians I know, say the same thing. They’ve played at church.” It was also during this time that Corey met his high school sweetheart, Laney. Later while Laney attended college in South Carolina, Corey stayed in Georgia. “During my college years,” Corey says, “I played in local hangouts on open-mike nights. By this time, I was writing my own music. I really didn’t think it was that good, but people started getting into it. Since I was in a long distance relationship at the time, most of my songs were ‘I miss you’ kind of songs. You know,” he says with a grin, “sappy, love songs.” Using these songs, Corey produced his first CD titled Learning to Let Go. “This album was just me and my guitar,” Corey explains. “I actually cut it at my house with some software that I had learned how to operate well enough to showcase my acoustic music.” As Corey became increasingly passionate about creating good music, he joined forces with other like-minded musicians. “Once I started playing around with a band, I GreerNow JANUARY 2008

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recorded my second CD at my old drummer’s studio in Atlanta. I had just gotten engaged to Laney and a lot was changing in my life so I called it Starting All Over.” As Corey traveled the country playing at different venues, he garnered a loyal following. However, it was his Web site, where he offered free downloads of his music, that really spurred his career. “I know it seems kind of silly,” Corey says, “but it’s the only way some people have ever heard of me. To play in California and have people come watch you because they heard you on myspace, that’s pretty crazy. You never would have thought back 20 years ago that something like that could ever happen. At that time, if you weren’t on the radio, you were out of luck.” Corey’s Web site and music also caught the attention of Hollywood. “One day the casting director for MTV’s The Real World contacted me,” Corey explains. “He told me he had seen me on myspace, thought I had a cool look going and wanted me to be on the show. Well, I was about to get married and I did not want to put my whole life on TV, but I let him know that they were more than welcome to use my music for the show. He said, ‘Sure we’ll use it’ and I thought to myself, yeah right.” But use it they did - on three different seasons of the show - and because it did so well, Corey’s music also ended up on several ABC and Oxygen channel

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shows. One particular song, “Here’s Looking at You Kid”, which expresses Corey’s emotions during his long-distance relationship, became so popular that people even began using it at their weddings. “I was like ‘are you kidding me?’ What’s crazy is that I had debated even putting that song on my album. But I think people identify with this song because everyone has probably had to say good-bye at sometime to someone they love.” Today Corey is excited about his first CD under the Tooth & Nail Label which he just finished recording in Seattle, Washington with the help of manager Steve Taylor. Slated to arrive in stores this spring, the CD, tentatively titled Gold and the Sand, will include new local band members - drummer Russ Chapman, bassist Logan Belcher, and guitarist Katlin Owen - who Corey says are so good “it’s a privilege to work with them.” “This album,” Corey continues, “is a little different than my other CDs. I’m getting back into old country artists like Johnny Cash so the music has a particular southern flavor. Also, I’m at the age where you start asking big life questions so my new songs reflect that. I have never put as much energy, time, thought, and emotion – so much of myself - in my music as in this new album. When I play it, I sometimes find myself getting emotional.” Inspired by the music of the ’60s and ’70s that is still popular today, Corey’s main goal is to have lasting music. “I want to be a career musician,” he explains. “I’m not trying to write a radio hit – that’s too draining. I’m just trying to write what I do. If you’re trying to do something today that is not true to you, you’re not going to last. I really want people to enjoy coming out to my shows and listening to my music.” And lucky for us locals, Corey and wife Laney chose this beautiful area to call home because one of Corey’s favorite venues is the Handlebar in Greenville. Go check him out! d For more information on Corey Crowder, please visit these Web sites: www.myspace.com/coreycrowder www.coreycrowder.net www.itunes.com

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