Having enter­tained audi­ences since the age of 9, Larry McCray sports a self-depicted “con­tem­porary blues” style, baritone vocal range, and guitar prowess. He will be appearing in Hillsdale at the Dawn Theater on Jan. 26 for a live per­for­mance. Doors open at 7:00 p.m., and tickets are $20 at the door.


From where do you draw inspi­ration for your lyrics?


From life. I listen to a lot of genres: country western, rock, rap, gospel, and jazz. It can be important for artists to try to see how other people get their stories told. I try to assim­ilate what others say by putting ideas in my own terms, but it is good to pay attention to what others do, think, and how they find success. That way I can draw on others for inspi­ration, and they can do the same with my success.


What is your per­spective on illegal music down­loads?


I do not believe it can ever be stopped. As an artist, I have to find some way to make that system work par­tially to my own advantage. Believe me, it is easier said than done because free music is available to anyone who wants it. At the same time, if you work hard enough and people feel a con­nection with your music, then they will have a ten­dency to want to support those they have a passion for. That’s what I rely on — putting on an honest, intense show for people who appre­ciate the genre of music to come out and enjoy.


What is your vision for the future of blues in modern American culture?


My hope is for blues to break the ethnic bar­riers of music because there is a lot of seg­re­gation in terms of success. It is easier for certain people to find success based on cos­metics or style rather than being del­e­gated by per­for­mance. I believe it has too much to do with how people receive and per­ceive you. For example, the majority of white blues artists have a hard time getting bookings in Chicago clubs because it is an under­ground band taboo. People don’t give each other a chance some­times for the wrong reasons so there is a lot of work to be done. My hope is that America will start judging artists according to what they sound like on record rather than pop­u­larity or pre­con­cep­tions. Take off the chains, and let the music speak for itself.


    ‑Com­piled by Jordan Finney