What a way to end 2020! An electro-pop/rock-infused album with great lyrics and heart? Say no more! Tennessee-native Clark Beckham chatted with us about Light Year and how quarantine is treating him. You might remember Beckham as the runner-up on the 14th season of American Idol? We’re so happy to see him coastin’!
Beckham’s music journey started when at seven years old, singing in a gospel trio with his mom and dad. “After that,” he recalls, “I was involved in choir and musical theatre throughout high school and college. In college, I would come home on breaks and perform on the street corner of Broadway and 2nd avenue in downtown Nashville.” After graduating from Lee University, his dreams of scoring big in the music scene brought him to audition for American Idol. “That really did it for me. I finished as the runner-up of Season 14 and have been recording and touring full-time ever since. A dream come true, but in many ways still just beginning!” Great mentality, Clark!
Prior to Light Year, Clark shared the stage with indie-rapper Jon Bellion and R&B artist Allen Stone. When asked about those experiences, he defines them as “two big dreams come true.” “They were both kind enough to let me open for them even when they had sold-out shows. Typically an opener is to help sell tickets. Neither of them needed any help doing that so adding me to the lineup was pure kindness and generosity that I’ll never forget.” With Allen, he was assisted by a full band. Meanwhile, while opening on a few legs of Jon Bellion’s tour, all that stood was Clark and his acoustic guitar!
The first single of Clark’s career came from a single written on the same day as he appeared with Bellion! “I wrote a song called ‘I Need’ the day of my first show with Jon to make sure I had a song that gave me the best chance of winning the audience from the first note. Later, the song was produced by Steve Jordan, and become my first hit!”
His recent album, Light Year, was released a few weeks ago and has gained an outstanding response among fans. This album is a milestone for me,” he explained, “As I’ve found a way to take my soul/R&B/gospel/jazz roots, partner with brilliant pop producers and writers and come away with records ready for the radio and pop charts without forfeiting a drop of the creative depth I strive for in my music. I’ve never been more confident in a project.” The album truly encompasses themes of love, determination and passion, while incorporating many styles and sounds. Key tracks on the album include “Luckiest Man,” “I Hurt Too Much,” “Gloria” and “Bedrock,” which appeared as the first single pre-release!
Beckham says that “Bedrock” is “the most important song” he’s released by far. “If I had the ability to pick one song off of Light Year for everyone on earth to hear, I would choose ‘Bedrock.'” He continued to discuss the collaboration and process with Eli Teplin. “Eli came to me with the concept of the song, the chords and the chorus finished. We talked about how much we wanted the hatred in the world to stop, namely the divisiveness of people with different political beliefs. Eli was the perfect person for me to write this song with. Not just because he’s one of my favorite songwriters in the world — which he is — but Eli and I embody what this song is about. We ourselves have many different beliefs I’m sure, but he’s one of my dearest friends and I know if I needed something, he’s always going to be there for me, and I for him. The soul of this song is about loving people, regardless of what they believe in or who they vote for.”
It’s the perfect song for unity and strength, which is perfect for what we need now. Clark sings, “We need to give more than we’ve been giving // Take less than we’ve been willing // Be the shoulder for the other // And the bedrock for each other.”
When stay-at-home orders first hit in March, Clark’s tour was in full swing! He recalled the challenging times but remained resilient in the fight to stay strong and be kind to each other. “At the time, that was 100 percent of my income. That was the only way I paid bills. When we canceled the tour, I found a way to pivot and start offering music lessons online. I’ve been teaching voice, piano, guitar, music theory, songwriting and giving career advice since April to students young and old from all over the world.” Clark is still offering lessons, and anyone is welcome to sign up via Zoom by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. What a great way to keep busy and tend to the heart.
In our continued quarantine journey, Clark advocates to diversify habits and self-care routines, but also to lessen the pressure of being productive 24/7. “I often found myself getting stuck in the mundane groundhog’s day, and I’ve learned to get creative with what I do, especially as a creative — watching or reading great creative content is never wasted time.”
Clark hopes to continue providing joy through his music to fans, encouraging kindness and creativity. When he’s not behind the mic, he’s vibing to his favorite artists — some of which including Bruno Major, Jon Bellion, Bruno Mars, John Legend, his dad, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, John Mayer, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, The Beatles, Billie Eilish and Colin Edge. A great mix, indeed.
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