Music News & Reviews

Citizen Cope’s eclectic music can feel like a breezy summer afternoon

Citizen Cope, known as Clarence Greenwood, will perform Oct. 6 at a free show at Red Hat Amphitheater.
Citizen Cope, known as Clarence Greenwood, will perform Oct. 6 at a free show at Red Hat Amphitheater.

Trends never appealed to Citizen Cope.

The artist, born Clarence Greenwood, let other recording artists appropriate to get to the next level during the ’90s. Greenwood did it his way and also eschewed the flash while one-hit wonders, such as Republica, bathed in it.

The soulful, inventive and adventurous singer/songwriter tended to a cult fan base that burgeoned. Throughout the last decade, his five albums continued to sell as his one-time peers were forgotten.

“It’s just always been about the music,” Greenwood says. “It’s never been about anything else for me. Maybe it’s like that for other people but not me.”

Folk, soul, rock and blues are just some of the styles Greenwood has been working on over the last 20 years. “Let the Drummer Kick,” an example of this fusion, went gold.

“I write and play what I’m passionate about,” says Greenwood, who grew up in Washington, D.C. “Genre doesn’t matter to me. I don’t sound like anybody else. That doesn’t help with radio, but I’m not concerned about any of that. I just want to play what I want to play. If someone likes it, great. I’ll put every effort into my songs. I want them to be as good as possible.”

Greenwood, who will perform Oct. 6 at a free show at Red Hat Amphitheater, has been playing theaters for years even though he’s not a household name.

“A lot of people who won Grammys and have had a good bit of airplay can’t play the places that I play,” Greenwood says. “I work hard. I tour a lot and just bust my butt. It’s all because of what I put into it. It hasn’t been easy.”

Greenwood’s work stands out with its laidback, understated quality. It’s the antithesis of in-your-face music.

“There are a lot of people that sound just like the next guy,” Greenwood says. “Back in the day it was about being unique. It was about developing your sound. That’s what it should be about.”

His 2012 album, “One Lovely Day,” is a chilled out, eclectic offering that feels like a breezy summer afternoon.

“I just take experiences from life and go with it,” Greenwood says. “It’s worked out for me. This is what I do. I started out with poetry, which led to spoken word. Then I started singing and it felt right. One thing led to another and I have a career.

“Being a musician isn’t an easy thing, but I’ve been fortunate and I’ve worked hard every day. ... I wasn’t a good student, and the classes weren’t so good, but I got past that and have made the most of opportunities. I’m not looking back. I’m just looking ahead. Things look pretty good.”


Who: Citizen Cope

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 6

Where: Red Hat Amphitheater, 500 S. McDowell St., Raleigh

Cost: Free