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Cory Henry walks back the timeline to his 'First Steps,' with a new concert recording

Cory Henry Performing 'First Steps' at the Blue Note
Courtesy of artist
Cory Henry Performing 'First Steps' at the Blue Note

Cory Henry has all the talent in the world. That's being recognized almost as a given right now, in light of his four Grammy nominations.

Back in 2014, this was more of a developing story. Henry was 27 then, and enjoying the rush of a true viral moment: his roughly four-minute solo on "Lingus," a Snarky Puppy tune. The original video has now exceeded 29 million views, with scores of additional reaction videos and tributes being made to this day.

That same year, Henry released the first album to feature his original compositions, titled First Steps. "It was definitely my entrance into finding my voice as an artist."

Henry also calls it one of his favorites, making it ripe for a revisit today. Fortunately, we get the chance to do just that, as he performed that material at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City. It's a set we recently featured on NPR Music's Toast of the Nation, featuring Shajuan Andrews on drums and Josh Easley on bass.

Cory Henry performing at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York in 2021.
courtesy of the artist
Cory Henry performing at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York in 2021.

Not only is the set acutely fiery; it was one of the first for Henry after a long period of lockdown, and a complete reimagining of the original material. In this episode of The Checkout, we'll catch up with Henry, and even get to hear songs that didn't make the original broadcast.

One of those songs is "Miss Purty." Henry also plays "Heart" from the set, and recalls vivid stories about his mother, a phenomenal multi-instrumentalist who should probably be celebrated in her own right. She dedicated her life to music at their local Pentecostal church in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, she passed away when Henry was only five. But it seems her legacy was already firmly in place, because Henry was performing at that age in service. Only five years later, he was leading all of the church ensembles.

Even though this podcast digs heavily into Henry's past, we must emphatically celebrate the artist in the present. He's up for four Grammy awards this year: two with Kanye West, one with Eric Bellinger, and one for his album Something To Say, which is nominated in the Best Progressive R&B Album category. His fantastic album Best of Me just released a couple of months ago.

The concert was recorded by Eric Parker and mixed by Neil Tevault.

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For more than 15 years, Simon Rentner has worked as a host, producer, broadcaster, web journalist, and music presenter in New York City. His career gives him the opportunity to cover a wide spectrum of topics including, history, culture, and, most importantly, his true passion of music from faraway places such as Europe, South America, and Africa.