Citizen Cope's Music Defies Categorization

New Album Out March 2

He'll Be At Recher Tonight

February 04, 2010|By John-John Williams IV | John-John Williams IV,john-john.williams@baltsun.com

Clarence Copeland Greenwood isn't fond of labels.

Critics have struggled to categorize his music. He's heard it described as everything from alternative rock to urban funk.

"You've got to listen to it," said Greenwood, 41, who performs as Citizen Cope. "It's got certain sensibilities of American pop. It includes music forms of R&B to country and western. I have a lot of urban beats that infiltrate the music. I don't really like to categorize it."

Greenwood, who grew up in Washington, performs two sold-out shows at the Recher Theatre in Towson tonight and Friday. It's a venue he's played several times in the past three years.

"You want to get back to where you are from," Greenwood said.

He's touring in support of his new album, "Rainwater," which he wrote and produced on his own label, RainWater Recordings Inc. It hits stores March 2 and will be released digitally Tuesday.

On this tour, Greenwood has chosen to stay in each tour city a couple of days, playing smaller venues to connect with his fans. The Recher fits the profile.

"It's always been fun," he said. "It's a good situation."

"Rainwater," Greenwood's first album in almost four years, is the fourth of his career; each has been released by different record labels.

"I just took a little time on the album," he said. "As a producer and a songwriter, you want to evolve your sound - push the limits and at the same time capture the moment. It's just something that adds to the whole body of work."

"It's a really, really strong record," he said. "It hits places. I'm excited that I have the album."

Beyond his records, Greenwood's music has been featured in a number of commercials, in several Hollywood films ("Alpha Dog," "16 Blocks," "The Sentinel"), and featured on hit television shows such as "Entourage," "Criminal Minds," "One Tree Hill" and "So You Think You Can Dance." Still, in a time when a number of recording artists jump at the opportunity to make a buck, Greenwood is surprisingly cautious about his work appearing certain places.

"It's kind of weird," he said. "Some of them, it is a little uncomfortable to watch."

Greenwood isn't above refusing to allow his music to be associated with certain projects - no matter how enticing the deal. Greenwood recently turned down the biggest licensing deal of his career, which would have involved his 2004 song "Sideways" being used for a deodorant company.

"I just wanted to keep the integrity of the song," he said. "At the end of the day, it is about the art."

Born in Memphis, Tenn., Greenwood was raised in Washington. Growing up, he says, he listened to everyone from Otis Redding to the Beatles. He was also a fan of local go-go legend Chuck Brown.

Greenwood was a bit of an anomaly in his family. No one played instruments. Everyone listened to music, but no one pursued it, he said. Early on, the extent of his musical expression was singing in the shower. It wasn't until he was 18 that his musical journey truly began. Greenwood had been writing poetry and learned how to play the guitar earlier in his teen years, but the death of an uncle inspired him to write lyrics. He then started experimenting with production - drum machines, sampling and studying pop structure.

"I started singing, got back into guitar and started writing songs in a traditional song sense," he said.

After years of working on his music in Washington, he moved to Brooklyn, N.Y. He was almost immediately signed by Dreamworks. Three albums later, Greenwood has worked with such acts as Grammy-award winning artist Carlos Santana and has attracted celebrity fans including Jeremy Piven, star of the HBO show "Entourage," and "Cosby Show" kid Lisa Bonet, on whom Greenwood acknowledged having a childhood crush.

"She came to one of my shows," Greenwood recalled about a concert from a number of years ago. "I was nervous. She was sitting right up front. I was a little shook. When they like your stuff ... that is beautiful. They get inspired, just like you do."

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.