Welcome to my website - thanks for dropping by!
"Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart.."-Pablo Casals
The wisdom of this world-renowned cellist, composer and conductor describes how I feel about being a singer/songwriter.
Let me tell you a bit about myself and my music -
It was my good fortune to grow up in the rural Centerville area of Gardnerville,
Nevada and I'm proud to be a fourth generation Nevadan. In the mid-1800's, my
great-grandparents were among the wave of pioneering German immigrants drawn
here by the region's promise of rich agricultural land. The Cordes family settled on
a ranch in the Carson Valley along the Eastern Sierra Nevada range where many of
my family still live.
Raised in a ranching family, I learned how to ride horses, push cattle, brand and
take care of livestock, as well as helping with other chores. I'm also pretty good on
a tractor! The ranching culture and traditions run in my blood; they influence and
inform every aspect of my life, from strong work ethic, to a deep love of animals,
the joy of family, respecting and honoring the legacy in which I was born, and appreciating the diverse natural beauty of Northern Nevada. These simple, honest values have always played a big part in my music and poetry.
People have described my voice as "rustically soulful" and whether I'm singing fast or slow, folk, traditional country, western or gospel-the music always expresses what's in my heart. Musical styles I enjoy the most have different nuances. I think of roots or Americana as coming from the soul of your existence music. Bluegrass is music that tingles the soul as you imagine the sound coming down from the old mountains. Gospel is praying with your heart. The Western genre is about life under the sun, moon and stars while sharing the elements with your best four-legged saddle pal (accented with a bit of yodeling) and being a good steward of the land. Country is anything with a twang that leaves you wondering how you survived!
People often ask me about where my songs come from. I like to write in the morning, in longhand, when my mind is fresh and creativity flows easily. Blessed with a good imagination, I try to paint an idea with words and music. The songs I write mostly explore the authentic beauty and challenges of rural life, along with the universal experiences of love, loss, joy, and sadness. My song, "Every Time I Open Up My Door", exemplifies how I feel about my life here..."Gentle breeze blowing down through the pines...". Performing live is deeply rewarding. When I share my songs and see the audience react and respond, it's both humbling, and gratifying to realize we've made a connection.
Pretty much self-taught on the guitar, banjo and ukulele, I began writing music and singing seriously in middle school and I did some voice training in college at the University of Nevada in Reno. Who is my musical role model? The incredible Emmy Lou Harris, especially because of her life's journey. If I ever had the honor to share the stage with her, what I could learn! The sound and texture of her voice is unbelievable to me. She has aged with grace and as her voice changes, she allows her vocals to enrich her unique sound.
My interest in music probable began with my grandfather, Chris Cordes Sr., who was always singing a tune whatever he was doing. He had big Belgian draft horses and always sang to them - I always sing to my animals too. My family tells me I inherited my singing ability from him.
Dan Jenkins, my dad, was a big fan of country music, and we listened to it a lot on the radio. At a young age, he would give me a song title and I would sing at the drop of a hat. Always a bit of a ham, I've just gotten a kick out of hearing people laugh, especially when I'm the instigator. Coming from a long line of jokesters, I'm always been pretty comfortable performing and never afraid to poke fun at myself. Taking a stand-up comedy class years ago also helped.
Over the years I've been lucky to be part of a number of bands including All Hat, No Cattle and the County Valley Jug Stompers. Now it's a hoot to work with my longtime friend and sidekick Natalie Nielson.
Horses have always grounded my sense of well-being. Whether it's been from the ground or up in the saddle, I have strived to connect with the true partnership that develops between horse and human. There is something beautiful that transpires within the energy that is shared when human and equine hearts beat together. Horses live in the moment and when life gets hectic, it's nice to know that all I need to do is feel their hide and wait for peace to wash over me.
When I was three and four, I used to ride behind my grandpa Chris. After he died, I rode his horse (a Tonopah Range mustang named Little Bits) and just lived to be on him as much as I could. I learned to ride by riding; participating in 4-H, taking lots of lessons and my Uncle Chris Jr. taught me a lot too.
I have shown horses in many disciplines including Western, English dressage and hunter/jumper. Horses never cease to amaze me with their willingness to try just about anything we ask them to do. when we ask softly and develop their trust and respect, they learn to trust and respect us. It is then that they lay their hearts in our hands. I'm currently in the early stages of training my 3 year old filly Aspen.
Several years ago I started exploring a different kind of performing as an
actor in our local community theatre. I discovered that acting keeps me
sharp and puts me in front of a different kind of audience. The process
of developing a character is challenging and collaborating with fellow
actors as we interpret and present the written words is really exciting.
Doing musicals such as the Always, Patsy Cline, Nunsense II, the Marvelous
Wonderettes, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum has expanded my vocal abilities and taught me more about comedic timing. It's also pushed me out from behind the guitar so I can be more vulnerable to the audience.
It's professionally energizing to look ahead to different opportunities that will let me meet new people and continue expanding my skills and recognitions as a singer/songwriter. I'm happy to be participating in upcoming festivals such as the Genoa Heritage Days, the Dangberg Ranch Neighbor Faire and helping raise funds for important causes at benefit concerts.
Click on my tour page to find out where I'm appearing next - please come and introduce yourself too. Meeting new people is one of the best parts of performing! And don't forget to let me know how we can keep in touch. See you soon! Oh...and more music is on the way!!