“Some of the best advice I ever got? Serve the song. Do whatever it takes to make sure the song tells the story it's supposed to.” - Corey Snowden
The youngest of two children, music was something Corey was born into. His parents helped direct the music at one of the Pentecostal churches in town. It was evident early on the power that music had. The late night revivals and camp meetings were filled with expressive worship that got into your hands, feet and also your soul.
Diversity was something else Corey was born into. The grandson and son of missionaries to Jamaica and Haiti, Corey grew up knowing it was imperative to not just love and respect people from all walks of life, but to also love and respect their culture.
"I couldn't have asked for better parents. My mom is a child of the 60's, but is also southern to the core so she is protective and loyal, has a slight rebellious streak and lives to love people. My dad grew up in church, but has the same rebellious streak as well as the same kind heart. Basically, they taught me to love, respect and protect people from all walks of life and being willing to stand for what's right, not what's popular."
This love and respect meant taking notice of varying musical styles when he would go with his parents to churches to raise money for missions. These churches ranged from churches in rural Appalachian communities to new churches built right down the road. Corey was raised not to be color blind, but to be color aware.
"To be color blind, Corey says, "is to disregard the history and culture of people, regardless of their skin color and life is too short to live like that."
As he grew older, his hunger for music grew also. He tried off and on to learn to play guitar, but it just never stuck. At one point he even would act like he knew how to play by detuning all the guitars at church when he was around 10 or so. When church started, the service had to stop long enough to tune the guitars back up. The guitar players never found out who it was that detuned them. Corey might not be here if they had.
However, time went on and his love for music kept growing. He finally convinced his parents to buy him his first guitar at the age of 14. Bought from a tv shopping network, and with the endorsement from a man who played flamenco guitar and dressed like Zorro, the guitar arrived and Corey was hooked.
From the smell of the guitar itself and the classical guitar body to the warm, soft sound the nylon strings made, it was a event that changed his life forever.
"It's funny, he says, how one seemingly slightly unimportant event starts to reveal the path you're supposed to be on."
That guitar, now with a worn out neck from hours of practicing, served to start the journey into becoming a musician. He started out playing with a pick and trying to learn the basic songs that every beginning player learns. However, Corey's life was about meet destiny again.
One day he came across a cd of a guitar player by the name of Doyle Dykes. The way he played was something Corey had never heard before. It sounded like he was playing multiple guitars at once. Corey brought the cd to Chad Stephenson, his guitar teacher, and Chad began to teach the monumental task of learning this new style of playing guitar.
Chad was instrumental in showing Corey how to play finger style guitar, a style typically played with a thumb pick and three fingers. Corey began to search out more artists like Chet Atkins, Don Ross, Atoine Dufor, Tommy Emmanuel, Lindsey Buckingham, Derek Trucks, Lenny Breau and countless others who approached the guitar like they would a orchestra, not content to simply strum. As his musical tastes grew, he delved into the world of alternate tunings which opened up a whole new world to him.
From endlessly listening to the call and response style of Carlos Santana from cd's rented from the local library to staying up late to watch "Live from the BlueBird Cafe" in order to learn how to play along with singers and songwriters, Corey slowly honed his craft.
He played with a few bands sporadically and also in church, but was content simply to play guitar. Singing was never really a important aspect of his musical wheelhouse. Singing occasionally in church or even in his college choir for a stint, Corey would always go back to the guitar, However, that would change as well when he met his future wife, Sarah.
A year into dating, Corey started singing along to a song they were listening to in the car. That prompted Sarah to tell him that while he was a great guitar player, he needed to pursue singing also.
So he did.
He went back and studied at how his favorite songwriters and singers wrote and performed songs. Gregg Allman, Bruce Cockburn, Derek Webb, Tom Waits, John Prine, Jimmy Webb, Ronny Van Zant and others served as the foundation on which he started writing.
Fast forward to present-day and we arrive at the debut of Corey's first album, Tennessee Line. Working with two local studios, the work began. The songs range from country to folk to southern rock, but do so seamlessly. From Musician Hall of Fame guitarist Brent Mason to local, musically stellar friends, it was Corey's intent to utilize the best talent he knew to best serve the songs.
"Bristol and the surrounding area, Corey says, has so much talent that it would be crazy to not get my friends involved in the process of making this album and I think what you'll hear is something truly special."
Set to release November 5th, Tennessee Line will be the first of many albums in the span of Corey's musical career.