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Coralee and the Townies » North of Center
 

Record release at Cosmic Charlie’s

By Sunny Montgomery

The air was thick with expectancy as my classmates and I lined up at the front of the classroom, dressed in our freshly starched choral costumes and fidgeting anxiously with our cummerbunds. It was the annual sixth-grade Southside Select Choir tryouts and one by one, Mrs. McVey was going to call out our names and when she did, we would step up onto the small platform and sing the first few lines of our chosen song.

The teacher called another name and I eyed the small blonde girl who’d just taken stage. Her name was Corey Wilson, though we didn’t know that then—she was a new student. But by the end of her audition, it was apparent that the Southside Choir had found its superstar.

Now, a decade later, Corey has taken the stage again as Lexington’s latest musical darling and front-woman to Coralee and the Townies. She’s traded in her grade school choir garb for a pair of cowboy boots and acoustic guitar, united with five of the most respected musicians in town—Johnny Grossman (Get Down Watson), Smith Donaldson (Tall Boys), Scott Wilmoth (Swells), David White (Big Maracas), and Fred Sexton (the Yonders)—and quickly amassed quite a following with her sultry originals and honky-tonk interpretations of tunes by Tom Waits, Kinks, Chuck Berry and various other danceable musicians.

“It had always been my dream to be a backup singer,” says Corey. “I love to sing harmony and it’s very much against my nature to want to be in the spotlight.” After college, she did a bit of backing vocals for some local groups but decided, in time, that if she wanted to keep singing, she’d have to organize a group. “It was just a matter of finding myself a band that was good enough to cover up the fact that I had no idea what I was doing,” she says.

But Corey’s being modest. Between her big voice—a smoky reminiscence of Loretta Lynn—and her charismatic stage presence, which Smith describes as “both friendly and ferocious,” it seems the spotlight is just where Corey belongs.

Presently, the Townies are finishing up a five song EP comprised of Corey’s originals. Despite an obvious aptitude for performing, Corey says she lives for songwriting. “The common theme is undoubtedly love,” she says of her songs. “I have loved, unloved, reloved and made love,” and it is these truths she has versified into a kind of western swing collection due to drop mid March. “These songs are not just stories—they’re my stories and I just like to figure out ways to tell them that will make people want to listen.” And based upon the packed dance floor at any particular Townie show, indeed, we are listening.

“She’s ambitious in what she wants to do and she puts a lot of thought into her music,” says drummer David White. “Playing with Coralee makes me feel young. Younger,” he quickly adds. But it seems it is this precise sentiment that has contributed to her popularity. Her spirit is contagious, and pretty girls with her kind of raw talent cannot help but dazzle. After all, even in the sixth grade she was a rockstar and I haven’t any doubt that rockstardom will always follow Corey.

Coralee and theTownies will be performing Friday, March 19 at Cosmic Charlie’s where they will also be releasing their self-titled five song EP. Show starts at 10 P.M. So dust off your dancing boots.

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