Photo by Marc Watley

If you’ve heard Cori Rose around town, chances are you’ll remember her. Blessed with an impressive range and a rich, soulful delivery, she’s capable of transforming any pop tune into a head-turning moment, even from the corner of the bar. She will give an intimate performance Feb. 24 at Neighborhood Tap House’s Greenridge Road location in North Charleston.

She arrived in the Holy City’s music scene from an unlikely route. A St. Louis, Missouri, native who grew up playing music mostly in church, Rose had only tentative forays as a singer while collaborating with her older brother Kent Hopwood before she moved to New York City at age 19. There, she gradually fashioned herself into a busker, repairing an old keyboard she found in the trash and busking on subway stations with a mix of pop covers and originals to anyone who would listen. 

“I was very afraid to do anything on my own with [music]. I felt very comforted by my brother’s presence, and he did most of the talking at the time,” Rose said. “And then I figured out that I was able to actually have people hear me in a city where no one really notices you. In New York, you can walk down the street and see a billion people every single day, but to actually sit there just singing with a broken piano, my own songs and covers, and to have people stop and notice you and talk to you and give you money — I realized then that l could actually do something with my music.”

After moving with her partner to the Charleston area to be closer to family, Rose made the transition from subways to bar gigs, often in fairly intimate settings like Accent on Wine in North Charleston where she plays every second Friday of the month. 

“All the places I have played have been really great,” she said. “It’s obviously very different to walk in, set up all your stuff and actually use proper amplification. I had to make sure I wasn’t blowing people’s ears out because I’m not trying to be heard over 400 other people and trains coming by.”

Rose is busy at work on her debut album of originals with her St. Louis-based brother, who produces under the name NoViCe and excels at creating an eclectic range of lo-fi electronic soundscapes and remixes.

It’s going to be a true collaboration, she said, with her sending off vocals and basic piano parts to him to bring together and build on. 

“I like to give him total creative freedom. I wrote a song recently that hasn’t been released where he took just one line from the chorus and made this amazing lo-fi beat out of it with a higher pitched vocal, and it just blew me out of the park.”

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