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Corrinne May: No more groveling for gigs

Ewen Boey
Singapore Showbiz
12 April 2012

Singer-songwriter Corrinne May makes her mark in LA. (Yahoo! photo)
Singer-songwriter Corrinne May makes her mark in LA. (Yahoo! photo)

Sitting at a table in a quaint cafe in Chinatown, singer-songwriter Corrinne May spoke like we were old friends.

We had never met before, but I could imagine that it was this sincerity that has helped her attract many loyal fans. You can also see it reflected in her songs and live performances.

The Singaporean, who is based in Los Angeles, said that she likes the casual approach and that it helps warm up the crowd as well.

"Some of my fans have been around for quite a while, since the first album launch, and playing here is like meeting up with old friends once again," said the 39-year-old married mother of one.

But does she consider herself a successful musician in Los Angeles?

Well, progress has been made since she moved there in 1999, she replied.

"When I first moved in I didn't know how to get the music out," she said, recalling she was just doing open mics to build a fan base, and trying to put up her own website and come up with her first record.  "I was really quite clueless but willing to learn."

Now, she's getting some music into film and TV, and recording songs with musicians she admires like Carol King, she shared.

"To that extent I'm quite happy with how it's progressed," she said.

Playing in distinguished venues like The Hotel Café, which has featured artistes like Rachael Yamagata and Ingrid Michaelson, May has also built up a loyal following in LA, a city many consider as one of the pop capitals in the world. The crowds she usually gets at her gigs in intimate venues are "a couple of hundred or so".

"But I do miss Singapore," she said, shifting the conversation. "Here, I'm closer to my family and friends. It's always nice to soak up the atmosphere of family gatherings. And if I need to take some time off, I can get my mum to look after Claire (her daughter) for a little while."

Home comforts aside, she pointed out that it is probably easier to get noticed in Singapore as the smaller locale puts people in easy reach. While the Singapore music scene is like a close-knit family, May sees that the environment in LA as more vibrant, with a bigger creative community that makes it more inspiring for her work as an artiste.

She added that in Los Angeles she can reach out to a wider audience by touring different states and doing the college circuit.

"Now, it's easier to get a gig than [when I was] groveling like in the beginning," she admitted with a laugh.

Watch her perform her song, Beautiful Life:

Adept in playing the piano and guitar, the singer recently released her fourth studio album, "Crooked Lines". It is anchored on her reflections of the past few years, as well as how being a new mum has changed the way she sees things.

"With the whole motherhood issue, you learn to see things through someone else's eyes and learn how to love a bit more," she said.

As someone known to believe strongly in God, she explained that the album title can refer to getting a little lost in life, but that with trust all will be ok even though one's path may turn here and there.

"You know there's this Portuguese saying that God writes straight with crooked lines, and I thought it was really inspirational. No matter how much we think we're lost, we're not really lost," she said

She may still be finding her way in Los Angeles, but the inspiring Singaporean star sees a spiritual aspect to her career.

"I'm just given these musical gifts, and I'm using it in the best way that I can. God definitely plays a big role in that," she added.

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