As a kid growing up in Bangs, Texas, Coffey Anderson was pretty sure he’d be a basketball player. Quick on his feet and 6’5” by age 16, he never felt better than when he was out on the dirt road shooting hoops. But there was always music in his home, and Coffey Anderson had been singing Gospel tunes for as long as he could remember. His first “concert” was a spontaneous performance for the neighbors from the back of his dad’s pickup.
At age 6, Coffey Anderson joined the church choir alongside his mother and older sister. “We always had people coming to our house singing and for prayer meetings,” Coffey says. “I felt like I went to church every day—or at least every other day—growing up.”
As musical as Coffey Anderson was, basketball still came first. His achievements as an all-star player ultimately landed him a number of college scholarships. Coffey Anderson headed for Howard Payne University to play for the Yellow Jackets. But one night in 2002, his life took an unexpected turn.
“You can sing”.
That’s what Coffey Anderson realized the first time he held a guitar in his hands—and it transformed him from a college basketball star to a singer, songwriter and entertainer. That night he was just a nervous guy headed over to his girlfriend’s house to meet her father. He walked into a room lined with guitars. The man of the house took one off the wall and began to play—and Coffey Anderson started to sing along.
“He looked at me and said ‘Boy, you can sing. Take this guitar home with you and learn how to play it,” Coffey remembers.
Coffey Anderson was surprised by the praise, but took it seriously. Starting to play with a Mel Bay beginner’s book and a patient friend, he learned his first three chords: G, C and D. “I was so blown away to find out that you could play just about anything by starting with three chords.”
Coffey Anderson kept playing and singing in his dorm room, and soon people were lining the hallways to listen. So he moved down to the lobby, and more people came. Within 90 days of having picked up that guitar, a friend hooked him up with a gig to open for a touring band that was stopping by the university.
Before the show, Coffey Andersonwent to meet the headlining act backstage. “Turned out it was Bart Millard of MercyMe—the very first band he opened for,” he says. His shock was understandable: MercyMe had just released their debut album Almost There with the hit song “I Can Only Imagine.”
Following his first live show, Coffey Anderson didn’t quit basketball, but his drive to play music took over his life. After graduating with a degree in Practical Theology and a minor in Spanish, Coffey Anderson decided to take a radically different path. He began writing songs and used his bedroom closet as a studio to record an album.
When he’d sold 350 copies, he headed for Los Angeles to test his talent. Coffey Anderson even auditioned for Season 2 of American Idol, making it to the Hollywood round as one of 75 finalists.
“When you’re from a place where everybody knows everybody…picking up and moving to another town on a whim—that’s the hardest thing you could do,” he says.
Once in LA, Coffey Anderson began crashing auditions and movie sets and singing on Santa Monica’s famed Third Street Promenade. He brought down the house at open mic nights and won himself free studio time—which he used to record an 8-song demo.“It was an experience,” he recalls. “You meet lots of people you don’t trust, because there’s not a lot of trust in this city…but you have to find a way to give yourself a chance.”
To do that, Coffey Anderson lived by one simple rule: “I never told myself ‘no.’”
His next move was to embrace the publishing power of the Internet by posting videos on YouTube. In each video, Coffey Anderson showed viewers how to play pop songs, praise songs and some of his own tunes.
Within 4 days of his first postings, Coffey Anderson had 17,000 views. Within 7 days, that number climbed to 63,000.
Coffey Anderson’s hard work paid off. In 2008, he auditioned for Nashville Star and was the first contestant of color to become one of the top 12 finalists. On his way to the top 4, Coffey Anderson performed one of his original songs, “Southern Man.” Finally, he had the chance to show America who Coffey Anderson was while playing on a national stage.
“Nashville Star was amazing. But it’s an odd feeling to realize you’re on TV. And that 12 million people are watching you,” Coffey says. “It’s live—extremely live!” “I got to play so many of my favorite songs, from ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ to ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads,’ to ‘Umbrella’ by Rihanna and even some Creedence Clearwater Revival.”
Judge Jeffrey Steele told him, “You’re a great showman…you’re a star—I don’t know if you’re the next Nashville Star, but you’re a star.” That sparked Coffey Anderson’s mission to write and sing music that couldn’t be pigeonholed into just one category—whether it be pop, country, Christian or folk.
“My music is for anyone who has ears,” Coffey Anderson says with a grin. “I write songs you can listen to when you’re feeling happy or feeling depressed, when you’re hanging out with friends or having a night in with your girl…and also songs for worship.”
Of course, taking Coffey Anderson out of Texas didn’t take Texas out of Coffey. And to this day, he draws a lot of inspiration from his Texas roots and Baptist upbringing.
Coffey Anderson has released five albums. His first release, Inspiration Volume 1, lives up to its name with upbeat contemporary tracks like “All Ye,” “Never Turn Back” and “Glory Glory.”
Southern Man followed, with other fan favorites like “Rock ’n’ Roll Sally” and “Memphis.” Soon after came the soulful acoustic release Me and You—where Coffey Anderson surprises listeners by blending folksy appeal with his beat-box.
Most recently, Coffey Anderson released the two-volume set, Worship Unplugged, with a unique remix of Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and a reprise of “All Ye.”
Inspiration is something that comes easily for Coffey Anderson, and that’s why he’s built 2010 release, Coffey Anderson, around that theme. It’s still driven by his unique acoustic sound, but with a new twist.
“My mission is to take inspirational music that you might hear on Sunday and turn it into something you want to listen to all week,” he explains. “You want that message to get you through the week—that you are going to carry on and make it through this, whatever you’re dealing with.”
Listen to Christian Music Artist Coffey Anderson
|Inspiration Vol. 1||2007||Independent|
|Me and You (Acoustic)||2008||Independent|
|Worship Unplugged, Vol. 1||2009||Independent|
|Worship Unplugged, Vol. 2||2009||Independent|
|Coffey Anderson||2010||Dream Records|