It may be with depth, subtlety and musical instinct that you are won over by a performance from Corey Heuvel, or just the sheer command, raw talent and spirit of his guitar playing as well as his singing which will leave you thinking only one thing… “this guy is great”. In his own way he goes about singing songs from all over the spectrum with an ease that is only fitting of one who is many years older and a prowess on guitar that is singular in its ability to stand alone without accompaniment. Its a wonderful mystery to behold how the essence of any song can be captured so simply by one voice and a guitar, but he does it with originality, taste and an unexpected power for someone who isn’t really on the radar to the wider music community. And it is with a resigned sense of purpose that this 25 year-old Canadian continues to write, interpret and perform music in often the humblest of capacities. This is his path. And he must follow it to the end.
“I always say ‘you must inspire yourself, find your path, be true to it and follow it to the end’ because that’s really all that needs to be done in this life. If you can do that then there is nothing to worry about. Whatever your path may be, it will always teach you everything else you need to know about life on the way. For me there is a feeling of obligation to music because it is so clearly the best thing I can offer to the world, but I often fight it in favour of other things only to eventually realize I’m not honouring my true path. So it becomes a balance between seemingly opposing forces that in the end put me right where I need to be.”
The opposing force he is referring to is his commitment to a contemplative life of meditation practice. A life traditionally aided by long hours of silence and rigid structure; not a life typically lived by a working musician. After several years of torn aspiration between the life of a Buddhist monk and pursuing a serious music career as a singer/songwriter, Corey is settling somewhat into a situation he feels best serves both of these energies. He feels by maintaining a low-key, almost anonymous attitude to his live performances and online presence he can still allow room to teach guitar (another precious pastime) and spend a few hours alone each day in silent meditation.
“For the most part I play gigs around here in Southern Ontario. Usually just really ordinary pubs, cafes and restaurants to people who may or may not be listening all that intently but I can show up, play my heart out and leave without having to worry too much about selling tickets, or CD’s and merchandise, trying to make something happen or grow my brand or whatever. I can play covers the way I want, maybe play some originals if I feel like it, work out the kinks of my delivery and be spontaneous. I often don’t even say who I am. Sometimes I don’t really say anything at all. Which is exactly how I go about making my videos as well.”
Over the years, a devoted worldwide following has sprang up through his YouTube channel where he posts performances of popular and not-so-popular cover songs as well as his own material which has helped define his purpose with music. He plays many kinds of songs without pandering to any one listening demographic and often without much of anything in the way of effects or editing. Just 20 years of craftsmanship and passion on display. The response is overwhelmingly positive as viewers experience the consistent quality and creativity of each performance. Whether its the music of Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Buckley or his original songs, its difficult not to be impressed by the standard at which he sets each time he plays.
“Putting up videos on YouTube has been such a wonderful way for me to exercise my musical freedom and play all the songs I love — from artists I admire — and challenge myself to grow as a musician publicly. It allows me to connect with people from all over the world and reminds me why its important for me to do what I’m doing, because they appreciate it. I earn very little money from this medium but its been a constant motivator and mirror for me to reflect and improve which makes it such a valuable aspect of what I do. I really neglected it while I was away travelling recently, which was necessary because I was busy gigging, busking and trying to make ends meet but now that I’m back home with my recording gear I’m looking forward to making videos more consistently.”
After spending 18 months in Australia and California doing performances mostly on the street as well as in “ordinary pubs and restaurants” half a world away, Corey has returned to Canada and settled in Waterloo, Ontario where he performs regularly, teaches students and works closely with the company that bears the name of his adored guitar — Stonebridge. He still finds time for silence and meditation. And keeps following his path. Until the end.
Corey has released 4 albums of original music over the last decade spanning many genres from electric blues/rock on In Balance, to the folk inspired sounds of Evers and The New, to reflective instrumentals on Bliss From Within. He has also compiled a selection of various cover songs from his YouTube recordings titled Acoustic Covers. His music can be found online on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon and BandCamp.