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Songs from the heart: Citizen Cope makes music his way

Singer-songwriter Citizen Cope is working on new music for an upcoming album.

Singer-songwriter Citizen Cope is working on new music for an upcoming album.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Clarence Greenwood’s music exposes stories that haunt his heart. It’s just the way he makes music.

Greenwood is known by the stage name Citizen Cope and he has been on a journey with his art.

Cope released his last album, “One Lovely Day,” in 2012 and is currently in the studio working on new material for an upcoming album.


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In the past nine years, he has produced four albums of depth and distinction, each a critical chapter in his search for a sound that paints an auditory American landscape in which despair wars with hope; and hope, tied to love, is elusive.

“It’s all been a journey for me,” he says during a recent interview. “I have a message to tell with my songs. They have a purpose.”

Cope says his musical education was catch-as-catch-can. Folk tales – whether through William Faulkner or Big Bill Broonzy – shaped his sensitivity.

Then a few college courses at Texas Tech alternately bored and excited him.

But turntables intrigued him and hip-hop inspired invention, he says.

“I’d create beats for myself that ultimately turned into songs,” he says. “I got lost in making music and still do.”

After working with various singers at the beginning, Cope says he ultimately figured out that he should be singing his own songs. Since then he has released six albums as well as worked on some compilation albums.

“Working with others is something I also enjoy,” he says. “Putting the two energies together and seeing what will be made is an amazing feeling.”

While making records over the past decade, Cope has wrestled with a number of record companies. He says they have loved him, rejected him, re-adopted him and ignored him.

“Music is done my way,” he says. “That’s the only way to be true to myself.”