Centre athletes, friends combine dreams to chase musical aspirations

October 07, 2003|JILL ERWIN

Cliff Wright has performed in places such as Carnegie Hall, Yorkminster Cathedral and St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland.

But the next step in his professional music career comes because he was performing at a fellow Centre College student's house one night.

Wright, a sophomore soccer player, is an acoustic singer-songwriter who has already put out one CD. Wright was playing a party when when Centre wide receiver Nate Woodall came in from work. Woodall said he had seen Wright play around campus, and really liked what he had heard.

"He's got a soulful, passionate voice and he puts a lot into his songs," Woodall said. "I really respect that and I thought it would be cool to see what would happen if we put our heads together."


They've decided to do just that. Woodall has signed on to produce Wright's next album, and the two plan to put their musical pasts to use in making the album.

"I think he'll take a more personal approach to the music," Wright said. "He's very intimate with the process. You can just feel that he wants to embrace your music. He gets into it. He's a great guy to work with, very passionate and very skilled.

"The thing about Nate is that I know it'll be a close working relationship on the project. We both have an immense amount of respect for each other's musical abilities."

Both are part of musical families

Both are part of musical families, and both can play several different instruments.

Woodall can play the guitar, bass guitar, saxophone, mandolin, piano and drums. Wright has played the guitar, bass guitar, piano, trumpet, tuba, mandolin and African hand percussion.

Wright was a part of a traveling choir earlier in his life, one that allowed him to play in hallowed halls like Carnegie. But for all the music, Wright said he lives to write songs.

"I started a band in high school, which led me to start songwriting," Wright said. "Music turned the corner for me was when I got to put myself into the music. I wrote my first song by myself my senior year with the intention to play it with the band. They turned it down and I really liked it. I knew there was going to be a life outside of this band for me, so I kept writing.

"Certainly it's something I will continue to do throughout my life. I can't sit down at a guitar without thinking of writing a new song or sit down at the piano without thinking of writing a new song. It's just synonymous with me, just playing and writing."

Wright recorded his debut CD last winter when he went home to Greensboro, N.C., on the record label he and his band used. Called "Mud Puddle Reflections," Wright terms his music as "artistic expression focused on breaking new ground and putting myself into it. It's emotional, it's folky, and it has a lot of modern influences."

Wright said completing the album was a proud moment for him, but that it still leaves him room for improvement in his songwriting.

Woodall wants to help him take that next step. Woodall has a studio in his rented house here, a house filled with musicians and music.

It's hard for the two to get much time to record right now, as both are in the middle of their seasons. Woodall has caught seven passes for 49 yards in three Centre games and has also carried the ball three times for six yards.

But Wright said as much juggling as he has to do to get everything done, he'll never complain about it.

"I get to do two things that I love the most in the entire world," Wright said. "I consider myself very blessed to get to play soccer on a team that's this good and it's comprised of some of my closest friends. At the same time, I get to make music and play it. It's very much worth the time and effort I put into it. I wouldn't even pretend that it's a burden because it's not."

Woodall considering starting a record label

Woodall is also considering starting a record label, an undertaking he got to see at a monstrous level with his internship last summer.

Woodall was one of 12 students selected from 34,000 applicants to participate in the MasterCard Priceless Edge summer internship program. He worked a week at the Lollapalooza Festival and then spent time in Santa Monica, Calif., working at Interscope/Geffen/A&M Records.

He's currently Interscope's marketing consultant for the state of Kentucky, a job he got through his internship.

"I've got my foot in the door there," Woodall said. "I can possibly pursue that. I love first playing and producing, so if there's any way I can keep doing that and still pay the bills, that would definitely be my first choice."

Wright said he also intends to try to find a way to support himself with his music.

"As long as I write, I'll try to make CDs to record the stuff," Wright said. "That's what I do. It's foolish to make plans to be able to pay your bills with your music, but if the opportunity presents itself, I'm pretty sure I'd follow it."

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