Recipient Country Artist of the Year
Nominated for country artist of the year 8th Annual LA Music Awards
Growing up in Southern California, Marc found a connection to music very early. “I was just a kid when I listened to AM radio in my dad’s car,” Marc says. “In those days you would hear the Stones, Buck Owens and then the Doors all mixed on one station and nobody cared.” Marc fell in love with the dark ballads of Roy Orbison, the rootsy folk music of the late 60’s and the jangle of The Beatles. Coming from a Latin family he also loved the rhythms and arrangements of Salsa and Latin music. It was an unusual but inspiring mix. “From Merle to Dylan to merengue, I absorbed it all,” Marc laughs. “Those early pop records left a deep impression in me.”
Marc found his way to the guitar through listening to pop records he loved and wanting to emulate what he heard. He learned to play everything that was popular but immediately started working on writing his own songs. After the dues-paying, struggles and triumphs all budding performers experience, Marc persisted and recorded a set of songs that got him noticed by a publisher, Dale Tedesco, the son of the late session guitarist and seminal LA musician, Tommy Tedesco. Through that connection, Marc licensed his songs to Aaron Spelling Television and- fueled by that success- formed a band and started performing his originals live. A resulting CD got Marc named “Best Country Act” by the Country Music Association (CMA) and promoted his music on a larger scale.
In 2000, Marc released a second album of his own songs, “Stardust Cowboy.” That increased his momentum and won Marc “Best New Artist” at the year’s Los Angeles Music Awards. The record gained critical support from DJ’s and critics and gained credibility as an indie release. Finally -and to Marc’s suprise- Nashville’s own “In Review” magazine named it one of the year’s TOP 10 CD’s. Marc wrote all the songs and ASCAP awarded Marc twice for his composition work on the disc.
A single from the CD, “Memphis Rain,” got respectable domestic airplay but climbed to the #8 spot on charts in Europe and 12 other countries. It was boosted by supportive DJ’s with live interviews from as far away as Australia. Simultaneously, American, Delta and Northwest Airlines selected “Memphis Rain” for inclusion in their in-flight channels. The exposure helped Marc sell thousands of CD’s at shows and Internet outlets like Amazon and Tower.
“Stardust Cowboy” mixed musical elements of country with pop lyrics and Owen Bradley-like arrangements. The feel was part 60’s pop and part traditional country, all tossed together with a retro, “secret agent” vibe that even had a Latin feel in different places.
Marc’s independent success landed him a contract with the William Morris Agency; lucrative opening slots performing with well-known acts. Marc played for enthusiastic audiences across the country with acts like Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Junior Brown, The Mavericks and many, many others. It was great experience and exposed listeners to Marc’s unique sound. Marc’s live players were the same musicians he recorded with, giving the music a cohesive and consistent feel.
Marc has licensed his music to films, television shows and companies like Subaru and Spalding. His music has appeared in a variety of motion pictures including the recent independent film, “Erosion” directed by Ann Lu and lensed by acclaimed cinematographer, Neil Fredricks. Independent label Mountain Records gives Marc control over sound, song selection, production and even artwork. “I would love the opportunity to get my music to wider distribution channels” explains Marc. “But maintaining my vision as a songwriter and musician is critical to me. To have both would be ideal.”
Marc’s newest CD, “Jetset Deluxe”, features 10 new songs- all self-written once again- and a lineup of great musicians including, Skip Edwards (Lucinda Williams, Dwight Yoakam), Gabe Witcher (Michelle Shocked, Beck), Greg Liesz (KD Lang, Fiona Apple, Rosie Flores ), Richard Bredice (Peter Gabriel, Jules Shear) and Gary Brandin (Blue Hawaiians, Spongebob soundtracks).
Marc’s sound encompasses bits of production values from 60’s pop songs, intelligent lyrics and an obvious love for traditional elements of country music from the 50’s and 60’s. “I’m always asked who my favorite writers are,” relates Marc. “At the risk of sounding tragically un-hip, I would have to say I admire guys like Gordon Lightfoot, John Denver, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Buck Owens and other writers of that ilk. These guys achieved 3-minute song perfection.”
Still, Marc’s music isn’t “retro” by any means. Marc’s clear tenor brings to mind elements of John Denver without the folksy lament. It’s grown-up music that takes it’s cue from the big city and draws in its listeners. In recent weeks, Marc won the 2007 ASCAP Extra award for his original compositions. He has won the award four times over the years.
Back at the Fillmore, Marc Corey Lee takes off his big Guild acoustic guitar and relaxes in the candle-lit dressing room. Dwight’s legendary sideman, Pete Anderson, gives Marc a big thumbs-up. It is a good night indeed.