A few days have passed since I spoke with Kelley Corwin, who is one-half of the singer/songwriter duo, Southern Sugar. I distinctly recall the genuine vibe of her voice over the telephone line, as she was in Chicago at the time of our interview.
I remember staring at her photo, listening to her talk about the national non-profit organization called Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation [PBTF], as well as the Songwriter’s Tour that has currently landed her in Chicago. These two things are obviously very different but both very important to her, and she is on a path to bring them together.
Corwin is not posturing for attention or image; she says what’s on her mind. These days, that’s music, songwriting and working for PBTF. She has a clear vision of the future. Steering herself over the course of the past year, she has incorporated her work for the PBTF with her tour.
After Texas, the Songwriter’s Tour will land in Pensacola, presenting a benefit concert for the PBTF. Southern Sugar is traveling with musician Joshua Singleton and blues troubadour, Leigh Glass. By April 11, Singleton will be shooting some final video shots in Austin, Texas for a song called, “Angel in Black,” a song that Corwin wrote, she enthuses over the phone. He will be staying with her once the tour leaves Texas and heads to Pensacola for the benefit concert, and she can’t wait for us to experience his and Glass’ “incredible music.”
Corwin’s enthusiasm rings true whether she’s speaking about writing lyrics, working with fellow musicians or working in the service of others. She is so engrossed in her expressing herself through actions, in a way to give back, that she will make a difference in any way she can. The excitement over the benefit concert and the talented, traveling musicians continues throughout our conversation—even as she brushes aside the whirl of the road to bring the subject back to PBTF.
Brain cancer is the deadliest form of cancer among children. Such discouraging news gives one pause, but Corwin quickly moves to the proactive rather than dwelling. Among other non-profit organizations, “…PBTF is the largest non-government agency, probably in the world, that funds research for pediatric brain tumors,” she tells me. “It is a leader when it comes to the percentage of funds going towards research.” Her respect is evident as she talks about the difference that PBTF makes in local hospital research across the nation.
All of the earnings from the Pensacola show being held downtown at The Leisure Club will be donated to PBTF. “One hundred percent of the ticket proceeds will be given to the PBTF, funding their medical research,” Corwin says. The musicians believe in the PBTF and want others to understand the value the organization.
She muses about the differences in the shows they have scheduled. In Houston, the musicians will be dazzling the audience in what is considered the “main event.” Looking forward to Texas, she rattles off the answers to my questions with a happy camaraderie. Yes, she has always loved music, especially writing lyrics. Yes, she is totally jazzed about the stage experience. But when I ask her about Pensacola and the show that is planned for The Leisure Club, her enthusiasm ratchets a bit higher. Her interest in helping and educating is evident.
“I used to live there!” she exclaims.
Though she hales from Asheville, NC, Corwin’s Southern roots sprawl all over Texas and the Southeast, including Pensacola. She lived here for a decade. Like any native or past resident, she fondly recalls our white sand beaches. Excited to be returning to Pensacola with Singleton and Glass by her side to raise money for her cause is just icing on the cake for this tour.
Embracing life and unafraid, she now puts herself out in front of an audience, not just her lyrics. She tells me that being in front of a crowd and hearing your own songs in front of that audience is thrilling. She insists that she is only an opening act for the outstanding talent of Singleton and Glass, but for me, she headlines.
PBTF BENEFIT CONCERT
WHAT: Kelley Corwin, Joshua Singleton and Leigh Glass
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 23
WHERE: The Leisure Club, 126 S. Palafox, Downtown Pensacola
COST: $25–Tickets available at The Leisure Club
DETAILS: pbtfus.org; rideforkids.org; myspace.com/joshuasings; leighglassband.com