Fronted by singer-songwriter Cori Presutti, Cori & the Music melds indie pop with soul, jazz, and R&B. "My home growing up was in the woods, and my room was in the attic where we only received a few radio stations," says Presutti. "So I grew up rocking out to easy listening, 90s ballads, 70s and Motown classics, and a lot of 4 Non Blondes this one station would play seemingly on repeat."
Originally a pianist, she began writing songs as a teen. "What I found was I most enjoyed the writing challenge of being a storyteller. The importance stories held for people. And the importance of juxtaposing the complex with the simple, hard with soft, image with emotions. I still write primarily as a pianist, lyricist, soloist, singer-songwriter and played as a soloist for most of my career."
Cori & the Music's album Who Am I? was released in November 2017, produced, engineered, and mixed by Ruben Ochosa, Jr., who also played guitar and keys. Among the other players are bassist Rob Thorsen, cellist Christine Cyr, and guitarist Marklyn Retzer, along with a full horn section.
“The title was finally decided on when I was trying to figure out how to tie all my work together,” says Presutti, “as I’m a cross-genre writer and I realized what I was really working on was an identity piece. I decided on Who Am I? because it’s a question I think everyone should think about deeply in a world that likes nice and neat categories. No one has to be just one thing. I didn’t have to be writing one genre. Writing and producing this album was a really refreshing exercise on fleshing out my identity, as well as my sound.”
She credits her dog Charleston Chew for the album sleeve. “The cover art came about when I sat down to sketch something out for an artist to do the cover art, and my dog stole the pen and chewed it open. When I picked it back up, it started to bleed ink as I was still trying to draw with it. It was my favorite pen, I wasn’t about to give up on it. What ensued was essentially an ink blot drawing which just seemed so perfect for the album concept. So, instead of a sketch, I ended up using this original ink blot, which can be seen on the inside cover of the CD.”
“Then my partner Ruben [Ochosa, Jr.], who produced the album and is also a wildly talented graphic artist, created my ink drawings of my face coming out of this abstract ink blot. Within the concept of digging around in psyche, it really all tied together so beautifully.” Ochosa, Jr. also played guitar and keys on the album, which debuts on Saturday, November 11, at downtown’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
Presutti arrived in town from Farmington, CT (“My home growing up was in the woods”), and she recalls things didn’t get off to a rosy start, especially at one La Mesa gig. “I got there, and it was literally just me with my piano on stage in this divey bar, two people playing pool, and then a naked mannequin posed in the front booth staring at me for the whole set.”
“So I played the best acoustic set I could for the mannequin.”