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By Carol Taber
WAKE FOREST — While doing background research to interview Elese Corson I came across her rendition of The Christmas Song on YouTube. As her voice came over my laptop speakers I thought, “This girl is something special.”
Elese lives in Wake Forest with her parents Jeff and Kristie and younger brother, Jack. She got her start in music at the suggestion of a friend’s mother who, noting Elese’s high energy level and ability to project her voice, suggested Elese might enjoy participating in musical theater.
Elese said with a grin that no one has ever had to ask her to project louder while on stage.
The then 10-year-old Elese made her stage debut in Annie Jr. at the Durant Road Music Theater. Musical theater has since remained a passion of hers. Her favorite productions to date are Wakefield High School’s 2013 production of Jerry’s Girls and its 2015 production of Peter Pan.
Elese says that Jerry’s Girls exposed her to the “rich literature of Jerry Herman”. Herman is the musical genius behind the Broadway blockbusters Hello Dolly, Mame and Dear World to name just a few of his famous musicals.
For Peter Pan, the school’s theater arts educator Paul Orsett brought in a New York production company to set up the stage equipment so the actors could “fly.” Elese got to soar out over the audience.
Discovering her passion
It was through her involvement in musical theater that Elese realized her passion lay in singing more than acting. Her father Jeff told her that if she could develop the talent to write her own music she would have a real shot at making it in the music business.
Elese began writing songs. At 15 she traveled to New York to produce her first single. She and the producer had differing visions for how her song should sound. While the experience was less than ideal, the young singer/songwriter kept writing.
The music business is about making connections. It is also about having the courage to make opportunities happen. Jeff Corson contacted a friend in the business to see if his friend knew any producers in the area. He suggested Craig Brandywine, the owner of Center Sound Records. It was Elese who contacted Brandywine and sent him her demos.
Brandywine loved her work and produced Elese’s debute EP (Extended Play) titled Who Am I in August of 2016. One of the strengths of Who Am I is that it comes at life’s experiences from a unique perspective. Elese says, “I think there’s a lot of music out there that teens can relate to, whether it’s relationships or other problems that you may face. I think what makes Who Am I different is that it focuses on the mental part of what a teen may go through.”
Brandywine and I are not the only ones who think Elese’s voice is special. Indi Band Guru said of “Gravity,” the first song on Who Am I, “The melodic tones open the door but the true highlight is her powerful and wide ranged vocals. There is emotion poured into the lyrics that provide that relatable aspect for anyone listening.”
Elese describes her musical style as acoustic pop. Her influences are “all the strong female vocalists on the radio.” When asked to name a few Elese laughed and said “I love them all.” Her passion for acoustics was influenced by the music of Tory Kelly, John Mayer and Ed Sheeran. She enjoys the creativity involved in the blending of pop music sound with acoustic instruments. In addition to singing and songwriting, Elese plays the piano, guitar and the ukulele.
Into the Future
Elese has several musical projects in the works. She has the role of Bet in Wakefield High School’s 2016 production of Oliver. An original song of hers, Lets Stay Fit, is included on the children’s album Sing with Max Vol. 2. She is currently writing new songs for her next EP. Production for that EP will start in the Sound Center Productions studios in January. The busy high school senior is looking to the future of her career. She is currently considering colleges that will allow her to pursue a degree in musical management promotion or commercial songwriting.
Elese enjoys singing before live audiences. She has performed at Cary Lazy Daze and Wake Forest’s Meet In The Street. She and her dad perform at area nursing homes.
To hear cuts off her Who Am I album or to contact Elese about scheduling a live performance for an area festival or nursing home check out http://centersoundproductions.com/elese-corson/
To hear her absolutely lovely rendition of The Christmas Song google Elese Corson YouTube.