Welcome to the latest feature of Kermit Says… On the first Sunday of every month, Kermit Says… will highlight an individual who is making positive contributions in his or her community. Want to be in the spotlight or nominate someone else? Send a brief email to firstname.lastname@example.org and describe who you are, where you’re from, and why you should be featured! Who knows…you could be next.
In 1995, Courtney Richardson, aka C.Rich, discovered Jason Weaver and all that music had to offer a kid from Chicago’s south side. 20 years later, he’s been busy writing over 200 songs, playing at least 30 shows, working on his upcoming fourth studio project (“Let It Go” is a personal favorite), and, at 28, is showing no signs of stopping anytime soon. In fact, it’s safe to say C.Rich is just getting started, and thank God for that because he’s straight fire!
Despite the difficulty it takes to break into “the biz,” C.Rich—whose R&B tunes are reminiscent of John Legend and Jamie Foxx—explains to Kermit Says… readers what one can do with a little perseverance, a lot of resilience, and a big dream. To check out C.Rich’s music, visit www.crichmusic.com.
When did you know you wanted to be a musical genius?
When I was 8 years old, Jason Weaver came to perform at my summer camp. He’d just released his album and was assumedly touring to promote it. When he started singing, all the girls/women started going nuts as if he had just given them life.
I thought to myself, “I could do this!”
At the end of his performance, we were given promotional cassettes of his album. I took mine home and learned it from beginning to end. Every lyric, every note, every inflection was mine to recreate. There was a girl in my group who I thought was really attractive (as attractive as you could think someone is at the age of 8). We had a talent show, and I took it upon myself to pull her on stage and sing to her. She scoffed at me, turned her lip up and said, “eew, get away from me!” I felt pretty bad afterwards. My counselor at summer camp told me I sounded pretty good, so I took that and ran with it. My granny helped me get voice and piano lessons, and I was really active in the church choir back then. I sang all the time after that. Everywhere I went, I had a walkman/discman/MP3 player to listen to and learn new songs. It wasn’t until high school that I started getting more into the music. My music teacher, Mrs. Klopack, helped me continue the voice lessons, and helped to build the first recording studio I had ever been around. I spent a lot of time in there learning the programs and just figuring out how to put sounds together.
So, in short, high school showed me I could be a musical genius. Everything before then was the inspiration.
Tell me about your journey to being a musician.
My journey to becoming a musician is pretty interesting, I think. I graduated high school knowing that my goal was to become a singer/songwriter. I had never really worked with any producers in any serious fashion, and I was beginning a Jazz Studies program at Roosevelt University in Chicago. When I started, I thought I was one of the most musically educated individuals that could exist. I was proven wrong almost immediately. Music Theory was difficult. I wanted to sing all day, and of course, a rigorous academic environment didn’t have “sing all day” as an option. I was in a difficult place and I simply gave up. I dropped out of school 1.5 years in. I felt like my teachers were talking AT me and not TO me. I felt like no one understood where my head was or where my goals were. From 2007 to 2009, I stopped listening to music. I didn’t play, I didn’t sing and in my mind I was no longer a musician. In 2009, a friend of a friend asked me to sing some hooks for him. I did it, mainly because I would have spent the night alone in my apartment if I didn’t. I thought my voice sounded so amazing on the record. I started hunting for beats and producers to work with. I bought a Macbook and ProTools and a microphone so that I could record myself in my living room and I asked some friends from college to help me put together and promote my first project, Rich Beyond Measures. For the first time, it felt like I was doing the right thing. For me, it was difficult. My family is not musical, nor are they the most creative individuals, but they support my endeavors as best they can. Chicago isn’t a huge hub for music either, even after the explosions of Keef and Chance, it’s still rather difficult for a musician to really become somewhat of a household name by simply being in Chicago.
What’s one thing you wish you knew then that you know now?
I wish I had the dedication back then that I do now. I spent so much time wasting time and not really being serious about my goals. Music is almost really 15% talent. The rest is an interesting amalgam of perseverance, dedication, work ethic, luck and connections. If I had the last 85% in 2007, I feel like I would be in a different place.
Any advice for budding musicians?
Keep working, expect rejection, and expect a lot of “no’s” from people. Believe in yourself because no one else will care enough to do it for you. But last and certainly not least, keep creating. Don’t let the hassle of life and responsibility lull you out of a creative state and put you in a place where you forget to be the brilliant you that you are.
What are some words of wisdom you’d like to leave with Kermit Says… readers?
Follow your dreams, struggle, be broke and be better for it. Don’t live your life thinking about what you could have been when you decided not to.