Corey Harper to play Proud Larry’s

Published 10:51 am Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The 21-year-old singer-songwriter Corey Harper has already lived out the dreams of most people his age.

Last year, Harper had the chance to open for Justin Bieber, one of the planet’s biggest pop stars.

Though Harper’s Americana-folk music isn’t sonically anywhere close to Bieber’s thumping, electronic music, the pair aren’t as far off as you might think. Harper still has a knack for a mean pop hook.

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In what will be his first time performing in Oxford, Harper will be playing a free show at Proud Larry’s at 9 p.m. on Thursday night.

Harper’s influences are based in ‘60s and ‘70s Americana singers like James Taylor, Jackson Browne and Creedence Clearwater.

“They really inspired me to have that kind of sound,” Harper said. “That style of music was just what I wanted to do. It’s the first stuff I was introduced to. Then I got into John Mayer and Dave Matthews. I like blues, but then I also like more stripped down songs.”

Harper says he was two years old when he first “discovered” a guitar, but didn’t start taking it seriously until he was 13. He’s also an avid drummer (another similarity between him and Bieber).

His first EP, “On The Run”, came out last year and the young singer wears his influences on his sleeves. On the opening song, “California Sun,” Harper’s voice takes on Mayer’s breathiness and the Portland native’s voice has a soulful twang. The title track meshes layered vocals that wouldn’t sound out of place on a pop record with his bright acoustic guitar.

Of his friendship with Bieber, Harper says that they met through mutual friends when he moved to Los Angeles. It wasn’t until later that talk of touring together came up.

“We jammed together and were just acquaintances before we even started talking about that,” Harper said. “He came over my house and I played some songs for him and we were just jamming. His manager, Scooter Braun, mentioned to my manager the opportunity of going out (on tour) for a couple of dates. I got the call to do it and I said, ‘of course.’”

Harper said it was nice to have Bieber’s fans to get a chance to hear his music.

“It was cool to be introduced in that way to people who might not normally listen to me,” he said. “It’s very different music, but lives in the same world.”

Harper’s show begins at 9 p.m., tickets for the event are free.