Have you ever met someone that had such conviction in what they were doing that you felt moved, that you looked at them and could really feel that they were doing exactly what they were intended to do with their life – that they are right where they need to be? Well, meet Candy Coburn.
If you were to ask her family, her fans that have become friends, and the people that work for her; they would all tell you the same thing - Candy Coburn is simply infectious.
From the moment she hits the stage, you get the sense that Candy is not your run-of-the-mill chick singer. Maybe it’s the fact that she doesn’t count on her good looks to engage the crowd she relies on her energetic delivery, true-to-life lyrics, and a show that rocks. Or perhaps it’s her signature “Carvin” green guitar she never performs without it. Whatever it is, it’s easy to see why Candy and her music are undeniably contagious.
Born in Kentucky, raised in south Missouri while spending summers in Texas with her father, Candy’s introduction to music came from her grandmother’s old console table. Out of its 8-track and record players, gospel music played along with the sounds of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Loretta Lynn and George Jones. She’d listen as her grandmother sang along, encouraging her to do the same. Today, even at 87 years old her grandmother can still “belt it out,” says Candy laughing. But when it came to rock and roll, that was a no-go.
“It was a big joke growing up even in high school, and certainly in the school of music in college that I didn’t know hardly anything about the Beatles or the Rolling Stones - anything normal or mainstream- because I wasn’t allowed to listen to it. My Grandma thought it was the devil’s music,” says Candy. “I didn’t listen to pop music until at least 6th grade. My husband knows all the hits from that time because he had older sisters. I’m always amazed at him when he’s like, ‘oh, that’s so and so band’.”
Besides the old console table at her Grandmother’s house, Candy’s other musical education came from weekend church “tent” meetings where different gospel singers came in to perform at the revival services.
“We would watch the Cathedrals play or the Kingsman. My favorite was Naomi and the Sego Brothers. She would wear her hair in one of those beehive type of things –schlacklered to where it didn’t move. She had these killer pipes – so amazing. It was a highlight being a six year old kid and being able to sing with her during a break they would have. That was my first time performing in front of an audience that large. “
While she grew up on and loved gospel, country music stole Candy’s heart. As a child, she remembers watching her first CMA Awards show and getting this feeling in her stomach, one that said “Man, I want to do that!” But it would be years before she was able to do her own music, her own way. As all life journeys go there were a few bumps along the way, a few detours, several wrong turns; but all that is necessary in making the outcome that much richer.
After high school, Candy landed a music scholarship to the University of Missouri and enrolled as a music major with a minor in journalism. There she studied Opera, but a tenacious Candy wanted more. Her voice teacher told her that if she wasn’t doing Opera she would be wasting her talent. It wasn’t long before the teacher made her life miserable for daring to branch out in a new direction.
Discouraged, she quit school, got a job and played with a couple of bands in different areas and a killer worship team in church. However, Candy went back and finished at the University of Missouri with a Theater degree.
“I started playing guitar then and wrote my first song. I’ve only been playing about 5 years total. I was never told this entire time ‘hey you need to learn to write a song and play an instrument.’ When I go into schools and talk to kids now, I am amazed to hear they are already writing.”
Several attempts to move closer to a music center like Austin or Nashville never materialized, so Candy and her husband settled in Southwest Missouri. Determined to put together a band, Candy put up flyers in all the area music stores, but the people she found weren’t serious or determined like her.
Perseverance might as well be her middle name, because she kept going, eventually finding better musicians and working her way up to one of the best cover bands in the region. She acquired gear, a trailer, and began to slowly work her original songs in her set. A mentor then suggested that she focus on her writing by playing acoustic shows. The suggestion couldn’t have come at a better time as she found she was expecting her second child.
“The whole time I was pregnant, I played two hours, me and the guitar on a Wednesday night at a place that wasn’t so smoky. I sucked at guitar. But I kept working on it and writing. That’s when things started to turn around and I knew I was going to do this. I started to look for musicians who would be open to learning my originals.”
She was at a writer’s night in St. Louis where she met several musicians which eventually led to finding an entire road band in the St. Louis area. Every Wednesday night she would make the nearly four hour drive there and four hours back to rehearse the band.
As the band got better Candy put on a second hat as “booking agent” for the band often disguising herself as someone else in order to impress the club she was calling into giving her a show.
Candy will jokingly tell you that she could write a book about how to not do things in the music business. She’s been through every band drama you can think of; she’s slept in cheap hotels that no normal person would dare step foot in, she’s driven all night to a gig only to find it was canceled, she’s lost more money than she cares to remember and she’s been told “no” so many times that a normal person would have said “Yes,” to giving up sooner. But she keeps going …
“This thing is unbelievable to me. When people get my music and it changes how their life is … man I never thought I’d get to see that happen in my life. It makes me feel like I am doing something good. I have these female fans who, when I met them, were bummed out, didn’t feel like they had a lot to give, but they hear something in my songs and it is something they can plug into and be a part of and believe in. “
So, that’s Candy’s story. It may not be one of those “made for TV” kind of stories, but it’s hers and it’s real. Truth be told, as many hurdles as she has been through, she should have quit a long time ago. Fortunately, Candy doesn’t understand the concept of giving up. Candy has this innate ability to soften even the hardest of hearts. Candy’s music makes her fans believe with conviction and faith that dreams can and really do come true in God’s time.
Written by: Angela Lampton, SunFire Entertainment; edited by Brenda Wood, Tri-Com; Magda Russell, Candy Coburn Productions
Sara Shelton, Triangle Talent, Inc. Louisville, KY. (502) 267-5466
Dave Snowden, (502) 267-5466 ext.111
Angela Lampton, Sunfire Entertainment, Austin, TX.
Artist Public Relations:
Brenda Woods. Tri-Com, Louisville, KY.
Llew Haden, Wales Business Management, Atlanta, GA.
Magda Russell, St. Louis, MO.
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