Famous 20th century composer Dmitri Shostakovich once said: “Every piece of music is a form of personal expression for its creator…”
For artists like Citizen Cope, that expression came clear over the course of his extensive career as a musician, as he worked relentlessly to come into his own.
Citizen Cope was born in Memphis, Tennessee under the name Clarence Greenwood in 1968. Living briefly in Texas and Mississippi, the Greenwood family set up their permanent residence in Washington D.C., where Cope’s music career got started.
He was first recruited as a DJ for a Maryland-based group called “Basehead,” by vocalist Michel Ivey. While keeping things running behind-the-scenes, Cope was also working on writing his own music. After signing with Capital Records in 1997, he recorded an entire album entitled, “Shotguns,” which was never actually released; and Cope was later released from his Capital contract.
In 2000, Dreamworks signed the songwriter-producer to a new deal, and his first album, “Citizen Cope,” was released in 2002. The self-titled album is a unique blend of groovy hip-hop, funk guitars and deep lyrics–a commentary on the world today with real-life, storytelling elements.
His first self-produced album, “The Clarence Greenwood Recordings,” was later released with Arista/RCA in September of 2004. This album put Citizen Cope on the map–not only from receiving commercial attention, but as a mark of where Cope truly started to take hold of his own art. His sophomore album was an adventure from start to finish, exploring elements ranging from terror, to fantasy and reality.
Cope stayed with Arista for the release of his third album, “Every Waking Moment,” in 2006. It was the second self-produced album that continued to push the blend of rock, soul, and blues, of which he used the material to focus on himself and self-awareness. But Cope eventually grew tired of working with a label and decided he wanted to set forth on his own path.
Rainwater Recordings, created in 2010, was the birthplace of Cope’s fourth release–appropriately titled, “The Rainwater LP.” The release allowed his vocals to shine through with acoustic guitars and light percussion, while tackling topics and timeless struggles of survival, romance, life, afterlife, and relationships.
His fifth release, “One Lovely Day,” came just two years later. The album once again revisits Cope’s signature mix of genres–transitioning from light rock elements, like the title track, “One Lovely Day,” to soul-based anthems, like “Summertime.”
Cope’s songs rarely stray from the focus and never compromise his integrity. He’s always been about impressing his listeners, which explains why he’s been a heavily touring artist over the last decade.
Now, he’s bringing his live music show back to our city for his upcoming performance at Carnegie Library Music Hall on Thursday, March 31.
Doors open at 7PM and tickets are available online now.