LONG BEACH -- Jennifer Corday was born and raised in Long Beach to parents who were Brooklyn, N.Y., transplants.
After a 10-year stint in Orange County, she happily once again calls Long Beach her home. She loves it that Long Beach is smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles and Orange County, and just a hop and a skip from San Diego.
If you've met her, the fact that her parents migrated from Brooklyn is not much of a surprise. She definitely has that "New Yorker edge," which adds to her glowing personality -- an influence that could only come from that specific part of the world.
Corday, as she is known professionally, began dabbling in music in the fourth grade when she picked up a cello. She has since expanded her craft in a myriad of ways, and can be found playing solo or fronting her band(s) in various regular gigs all over L.A. and Orange County -- something she has now done for over 10 years. She has a huge following in San Diego and has had some very memorable gigs here.
To date, she has released three studio albums, had one remastered and re-released, and has written and produced songs for two movie soundtracks. Quite a feat for someone who originally set her sights on teaching high school immediately after college.
The popular singer-songwriter has become quite well known on the national lesbian circuit, too. She cut her teeth playing local Pride celebrations around Southern California and now plays women's comedy and music festivals across the country, jumps aboard various women's cruises, and has also opened for many big-named acts over the years.
This past April during Dinah Shore weekend, women exiting the Melissa Etheridge concert (at Aqua Caliente) were thrilled to hear Corday's familiar voice projecting from a nearby lounge off the casino and quickly filled the seats; not quite ready to end their night of women's music just yet.
As a rock 'n' roller, mornings are basically non-existent for Corday; making her literally unavailable during that time for interviews. Understanding her hard-working lifestyle, San Diego Gay & Lesbian News asked her one recent evening to carve out a few minutes of time for a round of questions, which she eagerly and easily accommodated.
Read on to learn more about her upcoming week of gigs in Key West, the topless women she expects to encounter there, what her early influences were, when she's coming back to San Diego, and how she feels about that now infamous Gordon Biersch gig a couple years back - -where she almost got yanked off the stage for singing too passionately about a certain female body part.
At what age did you get into music and begin playing gigs?
Well I started playing the cello in the 4th grade. My big brother played the electric bass and I thought that was even cooler than the cello! So I learned bass and started playing in the jazz band when I was in middle school. I continued playing cello and bass all through college, performing in symphony orchestras and even touring with the college jazz group.
I still play cello on all my albums, it's such a beautiful instrument. It wasn't until I was in college that I learned to play guitar; my friend Renea taught me, and we played all the Indigo Girls songs. We became girlfriends and started playing at coffee houses as a duo called Butterfly Battlefield. We started an all-girl band after that, called Her Majesty. But that didn't last long; "girl bands" never do - too much drama, lol! I started playing solo at coffee houses and eventually started [my own] band. I've been gigging ever since, for over ten years now.
Who were your biggest influences?
I know it's cliché as a lesbian, but I must cite the Indigo Girls in the beginning. Their lyrics and harmonies and counter-melodies are amazing.
Melissa was also a big inspiration, not so much even musically as personally -- the fact that she was a lesbian from Long Beach and played the very same clubs I played gave me hope. I played at the Que Sera and the Executive Suite for years and the owners would tell me stories about Melissa.
Lately though, my influences have really changed to be older classic rock bands like Zeppelin and a lot of blues. My girlfriend bought me a Taylor guitar and my bassist started teaching me to play lead, which totally opened me up to a new world. So now I play a lot of classic rock from the '70s -- I just love all those songs and feel they are pretty timeless.
Tell us about your band(s) today.
I have boys in my band, but also have an all-girl band, the Classic Rock Cougars. The girls are great musicians -- lead guitarist Rosie Aldrete is pretty fucking amazing and has really propelled the band with her lead chops! Desha is great on bass and Krysta Carson is our totally hot backup singer, the crowd loves her!
I am working with a couple drummers -- Amy Blaze is from Connecticut but I meet her for all the East Coast gigs, she totally rocks! Lanie Fire is from L.A. and will be traveling with me to play House Of Blues in Las Vegas (last Thursday), followed by the Redrock Women's Music Festival in Torrey Utah, where we are the headliners.
In September, the Classic Rock Cougars are performing in Cozumel, Mexico for the Sweet Lesbian Travel vacation, and then it's on to Key West to headline Womenfest. So it's pretty exciting!
How many times have you played Womenfest?
This is my fourth annual trip, I think! Each time I go, I bring a larger group with me. I started out playing both solo and duo shows with drummer Amy Blaze and last year we brought the whole all-girl band for the first time. Much more fun to rock out with all of us!
What is your favorite part of playing there?
Key West is such a fabulous place - the weather's gorgeous and everything is within walking distance on Duval Street. Pearl's Rainbow is a lesbian owned women-only resort which is really incredible - a gorgeous little pool, where yes, the girls sometimes go topless, and Pearl's Patio which makes my favorite drink, the key-lime cooler! Pearl's makes a great breakfast every day, which is included in your stay.
They laugh at me because I never wake up in time to get it but I've learned to order ahead, lol. Mallory Square has a sunset party every night which is really fun, with street vendors and musicians and acrobats. I can never seem to catch the sunset because I am always on stage but on my days off I try to get down there.
I've discovered some great local places too, and I really like Cowboy Bill's Honky Tonk Saloon. We'll be performing there on the Womenfest nights. They have a mechanical bull where they have competitions and yes, the girls sometimes go topless.
So, food, drinks, and fun, what's not to like about Key West? Have I mentioned the topless women? lol
Why should a lesbian in San Diego make her way there?
It's really different than other women's events in that I feel like it's more intimate. More real. It's smaller than Dinah or Aqua Girl and some of the other huge lesbian events, so you get a chance to meet more people, I think.
Everyone who stays at Pearl's is like family by the end of their stay. I've met some girls that I stay in touch with year-round. You meet a lot of East coast girls which is cool. I like the diversity of this event too -- Womenfest draws a lot of young hot lesbians from Florida who come down to party, but there are also a lot of older women too. It's a nice mix when we all get together, like for the bikini contest!
And there is something for everyone -- comedy, music, and a filmfest. Piano bars, fine dining, or late-night pizza. The best day: Corday & the Classic Rock Cougars Pool Party on Saturday -- you don't want to miss it!
You have a big following in San Diego but we haven't seen you in a while. Any plans to come back for a show?
I miss San Diego! I have performed at the Pride festival for years but they lost their budget a few years ago which makes it difficult for us to afford the whole band. I performed at Indie Fest the first year, (founded by my friends Danielle lo Presti and Alicia Champion) and and hope to return to do that again. I filled in for Ashley Matte at Bourbon Street and had a great time -- I am hoping to do that again soon. Besides that, I am glad you are asking so I can tell San Diego: Call me! I'd love to perform for you, so give me a ring!
Over the years, you've played countless times here in San Diego at places like Club Bombay, 6 Degrees, Pride, but one gig that stands out was at Gordon Biersch here in Mission Valley. What was that like and how often has the staff of a venue tried to shut you down during your signature song?
That day will go down in history indeed! I play a lot of corporate restaurants and this was one of them. I had a HUGE lesbian turnout -- my friend Heather sent out an Evite and it was just packed with lesbians on the outdoor patio where we were performing.
It was towards the very end of the gig and all the girls were requesting that I play "Redneck Lesbo." I don't usually perform that song at a public corporate restaurant but seeing that my audience was 90% lesbo, I decided to give it a whirl. The girls went crazy and there were even a few straight couples on the patio who were cracking up!
The restaurant manager however, was not so enthralled. Two GB employees rushed the stage and gave me the STOP PLAYING sign, but I felt the need to at least finish the song! I think I cleaned it up in the last stanza and finished before we had to shut down.
Needless to say we were not asked to play there ever again. A lot of the lesbians were outraged and wanted to write letters on my behalf, and I thank them for standing behind me, but the truth is, I understand the restaurant's point of view -- and admit it was a mistake on my part. NOT because of the lesbian content of the song; if it were a clean lesbian song I would stand behind my right to play it, but because of the raunchiness of it.
Whether straight or gay, it's just not appropriate to sing about "eating pussy" at Gordon Biersch - where I later found out the music was not only being heard by the folks on the patio, but was being piped out into the restaurant filled with conservative families. Well, guess I gave 'em an education anyway!
You've been doing a lot of writing for Curve the last couple years. Is this a hidden passion or a new career you are chasing? Will we see you expand to other things like novels, screenplays, etc?
I majored in theater with a minor in English and love to write. I actually taught 10th grade English right after I graduated from college, before I decided to pursue my music full time. I do want to write a book one day - I have such great rock 'n' roll stories! But that is a ways off. Until then, I enjoy writing an occasional article for Curve, especially if it's about music or travel.
Are you currently in a relationship?
Yes. I met my girlfriend Michelle in San Diego -- at a lesbian seafood boil where I was hired to perform! We dated for a while, driving back and forth, and she showed me all the hot spots in San Diego. I just love it [there]. But she finally moved up here to Long Beach but wants to own a home in San Diego one day. I think I could be convinced. It's beautiful.
Any last comments for your San Diego fans?
Call me! Book me! I wanna come down and play! Until then, get your cute San Diego asses up to south Orange County and see me there!
Morgan M. Hurley is the Copy Editor for SDGLN. She can be reached at (877) 727-5446, ext 710 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.