Citizen Cope Worked with Clapton, but, the Singer Says, "I'd Love to Do a Song with D'Angelo"

The throaty vocals of Clarence Greenwood offer the appropriate audio cure for just about any of life's miseries. Since the '90s, this Southern crooner has written emotional tales for the Americana soul under his Citizen Cope moniker. 

Singing with his eyes closed through the start of the 21st Century, his relatable albums and modest style have attracted hundreds of thousands to the music. Greenwood powered through the cutthroat bigwig recording industry just to end up on the other side with his own independent label, Rainwater Recordings. 

Today, he records albums on his own terms and performs around the country, visiting more than 40 cities with each tour. In advance of his upcoming show at Revolution Live, we spoke to Greenwood about his desire to work with D'Angelo, his growth as a human being, and his up-tempo time in the studio with the Mars Volta's drummer, Deantoni Parks, during the production of recent release One Lovely Day.

New Times: As a songwriter, who are some of your past and recent

inspirations? Why do you think it's important to keep the folky

storyteller types alive?

Citizen Cope: I don't think there's a lot of people writing in that

sense, and it's just something that came naturally to me -- the emotional

connection I would get from someone like Bill Withers or Bob Marley or

John Lennon. You have to commit spiritually and emotionally to the song.

I was always kind of drawn by those artists. We're living in times

where I think money has become something everyone is chasing around,

like a carrot on a stick. We've lost touch of our purpose with all the

technology and advances. We haven't made many advances toward human

compassion or love toward each other. Those artists have proved their

music speaks to people and gives value to life. It's important to kind

of have a resting place.

You've worked with Eric Clapton, Santana, and Richie Havens. Are there

any other greats on your wish list you'd like to collaborate with?

I'd like to work with Norah Jones and Dr. Dre... I'd love to do a song with D'Angelo. 

The last time you visited South Florida, you were touring as a solo

acoustic act. This time, you're heading back with the band. How do the

performance experiences compare?

I just always liked performing solo because that's where a lot of the

songs were written -- on a guitar and just voice. As a producer, I always

want to add more to the songs. You can rest a little easier with a

band; you can put your guitar down for a second. But both of them serve

different purposes. I think there's the rock show and the intimacy of an

acoustic setting; they both show spark in a different light. 

The subjects of your recent release, One Lovely Day, seem to get even

deeper than those on some of your past albums. What inspired the writing

process this time around?

I think you just grow as a human being and things are more important to

you. Emotions that you have sometimes settle into different things. I

wanted to evolve the songs I've written already. You've got to write

certain songs to get to other songs -- like a stream-to-a-river-type


The song "Peace River" has some progressive elements, including a drum

'n' bass edge, plenty of percussion, and some throwback melodies. It's a

standout track on the new album. What inspired you to shake things up

for this one? 

I've been doing similar tempos for a while. The concept of the song is

somebody not being able to shake their past; it's a song about

reconnecting. Deantoni [Parks] played the drums, and he kind of went

with a double-time beat toward the end of the song and the outro, and

then we sat with the song and doubled up the beat. He's like one of the

top drummers in the world right now. He has his own passion; he can

pretty much play with anyone. His vibe is his own. 

This is the second release off your independent label, Rainwater

Recordings. Can you tell us about some of the other musicians in the

process of or interested in working with your label?

We recently worked with Alice Smith, but it's pretty much just a few of

my projects, because I don't have proper funding, and it takes a lot to

develop an artist. I can do it myself, because I have a history and fan

base, but it's a long and arduous task. You have to find the right

artist. It's hard for a lot of people to commit their life to something,

especially now, when there's not a lot of investment for new artists,

and no matter what anyone says, you need that.

Citizen Cope with Bushwood. 7 p.m. Friday, September 14, at

Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost

$47.20. Call 954-449-1025, or visit jointherevolution.net.

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