Cory Davis joined One Voice’s LGBTQIA and allied chorus in the summer of 2019 as their new artistic director. Davis is a career musician with 12 years of experience in choral conducting as well as having a background in non-profit development and management.
He completed his undergraduate studies at The George Washington University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Music as well as later completing his Master’s degree at Temple University in choral conducting in 2018.
Davis has had the opportunity to work with a number of notable choral groups and is particularly passionate about LGBTQIA choruses. He notes that these types of singing groups have an emphasis on cultural diversity which fosters empathy and promotes a more meaningful life.
qnotes spoke with Davis and was able to get acquainted with him as well as learn more about his passion for choral music.
What does your position as artistic director for One Voice Chorus of Charlotte entail?
As the artistic director, I conduct rehearsals and performances for our large non-auditioned group, as well as the smaller, select ensemble, Sotto Voce. I plan the repertoire and prepare us to perform at three main season concerts, any additional performances and community events. We have a volunteer board, and I’m one of very few paid staff members, so we all work together on logistics and administrative staff to get all of that to happen. Ultimately, everything I do is to create experiences that support our mission, which is to increase understanding and acceptance of LGBTQIA+ people through choral excellence, and in doing so, to grow as performers and as humans.
What inspired you to pursue a career in music?
It honestly took me a long time to derive meaning from my career in music. I was always involved with it, and it was just something that I was good at, but I always had that lingering “imposter syndrome” feeling that I wasn’t good enough. The teachers I had along the way were definitely my biggest inspiration. Those who had the greatest impact on me were sort of working-class musicians whose dedication to musical excellence equaled their humanity. That helped me to see that I had something valuable to contribute, even on days when I felt I wasn’t measuring up. I find myself striving for that balance: insistent on musical excellence, and full of heart.
What do you love the most about music? What fuels your passion?
It’s that cliche thing of bringing people together and breaking down barriers. Making music as an ensemble is like being on a sports team: everyone is responsible for their contributions, and we all must work together to achieve a specific goal. On top of that, the music itself gives us a window into other perspectives. For example, we are performing a piece we co-commissioned in our upcoming March concert with lyrics created from writings and experiences of trans youth. If I’m a singer who doesn’t have that experience, seeing a piece of music like that put in front of me gets me thinking about what someone else went through, and might change my perspective.
What has your experience been like as an openly-gay professional working in the music industry?
This is definitely my most high profile, specifically gay position, but in my experience, the choral world and classical music at large is very gay-friendly, and I’ve always felt welcome and accepted.
Briefly describe some of your most memorable moments related to music.
When I was in my Master’s program, we formed a choir consisting of Temple students and people who were experiencing or had experienced homelessness, through an organization called Project HOME. We came together to make music, but it led to conversations and friendships between folks who likely never would have interacted other than to pass each other on the street. It was incredibly powerful.
How has your transition been since relocating to Charlotte, N.C. from Philadelphia, Pa.?
As with any transition, there are always challenges. There have definitely been some ups and downs, but I’m hopeful things will begin to stabilize.
What are some of your and your partner’s favorite vacation spots?
My parents have a house in Florida where they spend half the year, and we enjoy visiting them there in the winter months to break up the overcast monotony.
Aside from choral music, what is your favorite genre of music?
I think I tend toward anything with a good beat and/or electronic sounds, because that’s not often found in your standard choral music. Perhaps that will change though!
Who’s your favorite singer, band, or producer?
My most listened-to singer of the decade on Spotify was Whitney Houston.
What’s your all-time favorite song?
That’s an absolutely impossible question to answer so I’ll just go with “Let it Go” from Disney’s “Frozen,” ha!
What’s your favorite color?