Cory Henry emerged from the cocoon of coronavirus lockdowns a new artist—not so much in style as in profile. The 34-year-old, Brooklyn-born prodigy earned a credit on Kanye West’s latest album, Donda; performed the National Anthem with Michelle Williams at the NFL’s season opener in Tampa Bay, and saw his work featured as the backing song on a Beats commercial starring controversial track sensation Sha’Carri Richardson.
All of that comes on top of the four albums that Cory has dropped since COVID swept the globe. In 2020, he released the Art of Love live album, the original Something to Say, and the holiday-heavy Christmas With You. He followed those with a mesmerizing mix of vocal and instrumental tracks on 2021’s Best of Me.
So when Cory returned to the stage this year, he had plenty to work with. The former member of the famed jazz ensemble Snarky Puppy put that prolific stretch of solitude to tremendous use during a two-night stint in the cozy confines of Gold-Diggers—now of Leon Bridges fame—in Los Angeles, shortly after summer had given way to fall.
“Being by yourself ain’t so bad,” Cory told the crowd of his greatest lesson from lockdown.
The mini-run at the similarly mini-venue was billed as a celebration of Cory’s latest release. To that end, he and his Funk Apostles didn’t disappoint. Cory connected with the zeitgeist of virally induced introversion on “Alone”, tickled the keys on his Moog, Roland, and harpejji while trickling on his talk box during the P-Funky “Waterfall”, and summoned his inner Stevie Wonder to fly beyond the clouds on “Dreaming Of”. To close out the set, he tapped into the social justice movement that continues on by bringing his 2020 hit “Rise” back to the top.
Cory Henry — “Alone” — Los Angeles, CA — 9/30/21
Cory Henry — “Rise” — Los Angeles, CA — 9/30/21
Along the way, Cory appeared a man possessed, as much by his instruments as the musings of his bandmates. His face twisted and contorted with praise and surprise at every guitar lick, funky bass line, dappled drum beat, keyboard concoction, and vocal remedy that his group offered up alongside him.
Cory Henry — “Swing” — Los Angeles, CA — 9/30/21
Of course, Cory did plenty of captivating himself. He guided the audience through call-and-response, set clapping patterns on the second and fourth beats, and generally cut the figure of a solo artist fully formed, the “Master Henry” as which he’s been known since before he first took the stage at the Apollo Theater in New York City when he was just six years old.
Sure, the size of the venues that Cory currently plays, compared to where he started, may not make it seem like he’s come so far. But, in fact, he has hit his stride, and then some, at least within the inner circles of the music industry. So long as he continues to write and perform songs of such melodious repute as he has so far, and so long as he keeps collaborating with the world-famous artists with whom he’s kept company, it’s only a matter of time until Cory Henry not only becomes a household name but leaps from packing intimate clubs to filling vast concert halls with his indomitable talents.