Sunday, June 12, 2016

Indie Ville TV #101 Conor Clemmons: Breaking through Stereotypes

Written by Alexis Chateau       

The ambitious and gregarious middle-child of a single mother, Conor got his first spot in
the limelight as a teen aged model, and then moved on to bigger and better things
throughout his dynamic career.

He has worked in Broadway productions with big orchestras; played his music to
countless tourists on cruise ships, which took him all over the world; landed gigs as a
modeling brand ambassador; and sang karaoke to unsuspecting listeners.

In fact, his first night of karaoke in Nashville was what inspired the young musician to
make the growing city his new home. Conor had decided that, “If I – as a Black man – can
perform country music on a stage in Nashville without being booed… I’m moving

While the listeners at that karaoke session didn’t boo him off stage, Conor remembers
the odd looks he got – the raised eyebrows and the patrons tapping their friends on the
shoulder and pointing in his direction. “It’s like they were saying, ‘This is gonna be
good’,” he remembers.

And it was – so good in fact that the whole room went quiet when he started to sing,
before later erupting in support. After the performance, his new found fans bought him
beer and shots for the night, and reached out on many occasions to ask about his music.

With that initial success under his belt, Conor left his four bedroom house by the beach
and moved to Nashville to live with new roommates he had found on Craigslist. It was a
big risk, and quite the change. So rather than jump right into making music right away,
he took the time to get to know Nashville, its culture, and its people.

“I didn’t want to be one of those musicians who come to Nashville and have an album
out in six months,” Conor says. By the time he did start writing music for his EP a year
later, he better understood the audience he was writing for, and wrote from a place that
had increasingly begun to feel like home.

Back at his old home, his family and friends look to him as a role model and an
inspiration. “They’ve all been following and they’re like, ‘I’m so proud of you.
Congratulations’,” he shares.

However, Conor admits he sometimes has a hard time dealing with the spotlight. “I
almost feel like I don’t deserve to be looked at [as] anything other than just me, but to
them and their kids… I am this role model and I am this person who is following dreams,
and staying the course, and trying to be responsible…”

As the new release draws near, the artist braces himself for even more opportunities to
use his music to influence others for the better. For this reason, all proceeds from his
release party will go to Creativets – an organization which uses the power of music to
help veterans who are struggling to cope with PTSD.

Conor also braces himself for the new opportunities ahead that might arise from
releasing new music to the public. He looks forward to new offers and changes that
could take him one step closer to his goals of playing on big stages, and having his songs
aired on radio stations around the world.

“One of my very close friends, she used to manage Keith Urban and now she manages
Hunter Hayes,” he says. “As I get ready for my release in three weeks, I asked her, ‘As my
friend and as someone who is in the industry on that level, what is your one bit of

“She looked at me and she said, ‘Just know that it will never look the way that you
expect it to look and it will never happen the way you expect it to happen.’ …I took that
to heart, because I think that you are supposed to have an expectation, but you’re not
supposed to paint the picture.’”

Conor hopes that more musicians will take risks, and learn to break not just the
stereotypes of how they should look, or how their music should sound, but how they
think the path to success should unfold.

Conor’s release party for his upcoming EP is scheduled for June 24 at Soundcheck, at

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