Corey Clark walks ‘Hard Road’ to help kids
Corey Clark performs Monday, Aug. 8, in the Montgomery Advertiser newsroom for our ongoing original music series. Along with singing, Clark works closely with youth organizations, providing free guitar lessons. Shannon Heupel/Advertiser
Singer, motivational speaker grew up in foster care; offers free guitar lessons to youth groups
Life handed Corey Clark one of the hardest situations a child could ever be put in: 16 years in foster care, 123 different homes, and “many, many traumas.”
It’s a life you can’t just shake off when you grow up. When he found his way into music, it’s no wonder the Montgomery native called himself Foster Child. It was a name to describe all he knew about himself.
“I ain’t had no family. I ain’t had no friends,” said Clark. “I came up through a lot of homes, in and out of everywhere.”
These days he goes by Corey C. He’s a man with a mission, and he’s got a sound all his own. He also has the recently formed Foster Nation Motivational Group. Through his work as both a singer and a motivational speaker, he aims to work with every child in need that he can reach: those in foster care, children’s homes, detention facilities… basically anywhere he can help make a child’s life better.
“I go city to city and I do free guitar lessons in a big brother program,” said Clark. “Why I do that is because myself, I rose out of a struggle that was so strong.”
Clark doesn’t usually go into details about what all he’s faced, but he knows he’s not alone. “For every event that took place in my life, I know that it takes place in another’s life,” he said. “And I don’t want anything bad upon anybody, so what I do is start the peace.”
This week, Clark came to share his music and his message through the Montgomery Advertiser’s ongoing original music series, Montgomery Advertiser LIVE!
“Man, I know that people get hurt and I know that bad things happen. A lot of times we get caught up in this hype. What about the children, man? What are we giving them? I mean really. For everybody that’s out there talking about they’re mad and they’re tired and they’re this and they’re that, well I’ve been there before, man. We ain’t doing nothing but acting out in front of the kids. They’ve got a chance to live. We can live through their life. Give your life to somebody else.”
Take a listen to his “Walk a Hard Road,” which tells part of his story. He also blends in spoken messages about caring, faith and easily improvs lyrics as well. He does all that while playing a freshly-stringed guitar, which he strums with a plastic bread bag clip.
“I don’t have no pick,” he said. The guitar he played is one he uses with the kids during his mentoring program. “They tell me it’s not good to tune your guitar while playing a show. But what do you do when you’ve got 50 kids a day playing your guitar?”
Before his guitar lesson mission work began, Clark said had three businesses running, “and they were running well. Something came over me and I shut them all down. I stopped what I was doing. I took every dollar I had and I bought guitars.”
He’s been traveling to cities across the country doing free guitar lessons, and said it’s been a blessing. He’s worked with several youth groups around Montgomery, including Brantwood Children’s Home.
“I almost caught myself being homeless the other night,” he said. “My car broke down. I was like, oh my God, what am I going to do? I’m doing the wrong thing. And then I got slapped by God again. And he said, ’No, son, I’ve got you.’”
Since God has his back, Clark says he’s got the back of all the children he can reach. It’s a daunting task. The U.S. has approximately 415,000 in foster care on any given day, according to childrensrights.org. In Alabama alone, there are around 5,000 foster kids, according to the state Department of Human Resources.
Approximately 20,000 foster children age out of the system each year, usually at 18 or 19, and many become homeless. “The national statistics say that 48 percent will be dead or in prison by 24. Geez,” said Clark. “They don’t have anywhere to go. They end up in the streets. They end up robbing our grandmothers… It just keeps building stumbling blocks for the next bad thing to happen.”
Outside of his “Hard Road” song, Clark did a lot of freestyle improv music, just singing and speaking from the heart during his visit to the Advertiser.
“Nobody can hold you down but yourself. Quit that pity, got to let it go. Let God know that you want it, for sure.”
Clark’s message is resonating with the Montgomery area. Last year, Clark was part of the song “My City” by Noah Baker, a mixed genre music collaboration project of gospel, country, rock, R&B and Hip Hop that also featured artists Dru Toney, Tony B, LadyK, Nikia Smith and Taylor Semone.
Clark has also been working closely with Wendy Lyne Dermoe, the manager and owner’s assistant at Santa Barbara Trading Company and owner’s assistant at 1048 Jazz & Blues. Clark said he hasn’t done the bar scene much before, but he performed at Santa Barbara on Monday night.
You can keep up with Clark’s activities, or contact him with an opportunity do guitar lessons with youth groups, on his Facebook account www.facebook.com/CoreyCMusic.
“Adopt a child. Love a child. Give a child life,” said Clark. “Give yourself life by giving other’s life.”