Look up the word “resilience” on Wikipedia and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a photo of Jefferson Coker in the definition. Born in Italy to a Naval officer and his wife who were stationed there, Jefferson came into this world with a Lymphatic Cyst the size of a small watermelon attached to his face. At just nine days old, Jefferson was placed in a cargo net of a military plane and rushed to the United States where he would undergo twelve surgeries in the first six weeks of his life.
During his childhood in Charleston, South Carolina, Jefferson underwent 37 more grueling surgeries. “I watched the world from a hospital window,” he says. On the days he was recovering from surgery, his Mom would take him to work with her and he’d curl up on the floor to rest. When he was feeling better, he would visit the music store next door. The owner, seeing how sickly Jefferson was, allowed him to play every instrument in the store. That’s when Jefferson discovered his passion for music and its comforting, healing power.
Although he graduated high school, attended the College of Charleston, married for a short time and had two kids, the harshness of Jefferson’s life growing up led him down a path of drug addiction by the time he was in his twenties. Jefferson says that the day his son was born was the day he quit drugs. Through it all, music remained a constant and in 2007 he committed to making it his full-time profession. I think Jefferson describes his transformation best in his song “Lil’ Darlin Michelle” – “The years flew by, I spent all my time high, thinking this is no way to be. So, I cleaned myself up, I said what the fuck and started lookin’ for the one for me.”
Freedom, the very personal debut album, was released in January 2011. The stirring title track, written for his father who served in the Navy for more than twenty years emotes not only patriotic freedom, but freedom to be who you’re meant to be. In the bluesy song “Vote” he illustrates the power of making your voice be heard. “One More Notch”, which Coker wrote in 2002, is a poignant testimonial of his journey through addiction and his ability, unlike some of his friends, to come out the other side. If you listen closely, it’s clear that Freedom is a reflection of Jefferson’s first 30 years on this earth.
In the spring of 2014, his follow-up What Were You Expecting was released. Full of soulful southern blues, “South Carolina” and “Country USA” are perfect for hanging around the fishing hole, “Lie To Me” and “Price You Pay” the ultimate jilted lover tunes and “Lil’ Darlin Michelle” and “I Don’t Mind” will make you dance like there’s fire under your feet. It is truly awe-inspiring to hear Jefferson’s sultry voice weave his stories into song. The boy who was told he would never speak normally, is lending powerful lead vocals to his own band. That’s inspiring.
The Jefferson Coker Band is currently gaining momentum, garnering airplay by several local and internet radio stations such as MusicMafia Radio. “Anytime You Get The Blues” debuted at #3 on MusicMafia’s Top 30 chart in March of this year. They have remained in the top five for the last ten weeks with four different songs, but the weekly vote has been fierce and they have yet to make it to #1. If you want The Jefferson Coker Band to be next week’s #1 champion, go to www.musicmafiaradio.net to vote!!
This summer, Jefferson has been spending a lot of time hiking the Appalachians, something he’s loved to do since he was a child. “I started very young – six or seven years old. Whenever I wasn’t in the hospital, I was in the woods,” Jefferson says. When he’s not on the trails, he’s performing solo shows around the Charleston area. The band plans to regroup this fall and begin working on their next album, which is sure to be another triumph. In the meantime, “Anytime You Get The Blues”, just crank up The Jefferson Coker Band and your spirits will be lifted – guaranteed.
For everything Jefferson Coker, visit his website here.
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