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Good vibes

By CORRINNE HESS

June 2014

Cross a ukulele with a rapper riff and an upbeat hook and what have you got? The bright new sound of up-and-coming pop star Corey Pieper.

A 2008 graduate of Nathan Hale High School in West Allis, Pieper credits a band showcase called Haleapalooza with the start of his music career. Pieper and a few of his teammates on the Hale football team took the stage with a rap group they called Global Warming.

"It was literally that moment on stage when everybody was screaming and applauding, and I thought, ‘I can really see myself doing this,’" Pieper says.

As a student at UW-Milwaukee, Pieper met the owner of The Good Fight Studios, who saw that he had talent. They cut a tune called "I Can Take You," which reached runner-up status in a KISS-FM song competition.

Pieper’s family is Hawaiian, and when a producer suggested that he add a ukulele on one of his songs, he made a point to learn the instrument. "We started laying it in at shows and people just started to love it," Pieper says.

The move from strictly rap to a pop sound is turbocharging his opportunities. He is featured in an Applebee’s promotion on Spotify, and he’s gone from 1,000 Twitter followers to 30,000 in the past year. NBC’s "The Voice" flew him out to Los Angeles for an audition, he appeared at this year’s South by Southwest festival in Austin, and he’s been playing college venues and clubs throughout the Midwest. "There’s just so much negativity and bad vibes in this world. All my music is clean. It’s a little bit of singing, a little bit of rapping, just feel-good music," Pieper says. "I can literally perform in any environment and I’d be accepted."

Pieper shot the video for his latest release, "One More Time," in California, and it has all the hallmarks of a hit. He thinks he’s on the brink of something big within the next two years.

"I’m hoping that you can say my name in any household and people will know who I am," he says.

You can catch Pieper’s "Milwaukee 2 the Islands" show at this year’s Summerfest, or check out his tunes at cpiepzmusic on YouTube.


This story ran in the June 2014 issue of: