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Cory Branan on Wikipedia
Cory Branan
Cory Branan at Gypsy Sally's (Washington, DC) October 2015Cory Branan at Gypsy Sally's (Washington, DC) October 2015
Background information
Birth nameCory D. Branan
Born(1974-12-15) December 15, 1974 (age 42)
Memphis, Tennessee U.S.
OriginSouthaven, Mississippi U.S.
GenresAlternative country
Years active2000–present
LabelsBloodshot Records
Associated actsLucero
Thrift Store Cowboys
Jason Isbell

Cory Branan (born December 15, 1974) is an American singer-songwriter from Mississippi.[1][2]


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Career
    • 2.1 The Hell You Say
    • 2.2 12 Songs
    • 2.3 Mutt
    • 2.4 The No-Hit Wonder
  • 3 Critical reception
  • 4 Collaborations
  • 5 Personal life
  • 6 Discography
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links

Early life

Branan was born in Memphis, Tennessee,[3] to parents Dallas Lee Branan, a jet mechanic at FedEx, and Peggy Branan (née Rhodes).[4][5] He grew up in Southaven, Mississippi, in the northwest corner of Mississippi, the third largest city in Mississippi and a suburb of Memphis.[6] His family comes from Arkabutla, Mississippi. He grew up with musical influences from church, gospel music his dad listened to, and his family: his father played the drums, his grandfather played guitar and his great-grandfather played the violin.[7][8]

Branan learned how to play the guitar young, and by his teens, Branan was playing guitar in diverse genres from hard rock, black metal (Black Like Me), to heavy metal in local bands, eventually fronting a Black Sabbath cover band as well as playing country music.[9] He credits a creative writing teacher in high school, Evelyn Simms, for suggesting books outside the usual high school curriculum and encouraging his writing.[10]

Branan attended Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, community college, as well as University of Memphis.[11]


After high school Branan moved to Memphis, where, among other jobs, he worked as a bartender at the Peabody Hotel.[3]

In his early 20′s he began to explore the music of singer-songwriter John Prine, which led to Branan writing his own songs, which he began performing at open mic nights at Memphis' Daily Planet.[3]

The Hell You Say

Although initially self-released in 2001, Branan re-released his debut full-length album, The Hell You Say, on MADJACK Records on October 8, 2002. The rejuvenated album replaced three songs from the original issue with newbies "Skateland South" and "American Dream", in an effort to streamline the concept of the album.[12][13] Branan produced the record with Kevin Cubbins, guitarist of the band Pawtuckets, who also contributed to the record. It was recorded in Memphis at Memphis Soundworks and Humongous Studios. Lucero and the River Bluff Clan also appear.[14]

In 2003, Branan made his TV network debut playing the song, "Miss Ferguson" on The David Letterman Show.[15]

12 Songs

In 2006, Branan released his sophomore effort, 12 Songs on March 21, 2006, on MADJACK Records. Almost all of 12 Songs were written around the same time as his debut full-length, but were saved for record number two.[16]

The title of the album comes from Branan's concept for the record as more of a collection of 12 songs rather than a cohesive album.[17] Jody Steven from Big Star played drums on the record.[16] "Sweet Janine" is a song loosely based on and inspired by the death of his best friend in elementary school who drowned from an asthma attack at a pool party.[18] Branan said that he wrote both of his first two records while sitting in the bustling food court of the Oak Court Mall in Memphis.[19]


In 2011, Branan signed with Bloodshot Records. Six years after his prior record,[20] he released Mutt on May 22, 2012.[21] American Songwriter praised his "hushed, dry whiskey voice and his sharp edged, story song lyrics make the appropriately titled Mutt a mongrel that rewards repeated spins with an understanding of Branan’s many influences and an appreciation for his largely impressionistic, thought-provoking words."[22] The title Mutt actually comes from his most frequent answer when asked to describe his own music. Originally intended to be titled Midtown - in reference to the diverse neighborhood in Memphis - Branan said that the theme of each song on the record reminds him of the poem The Oven Bird by Robert Frost "which paints a picture of the fallen petals of post-spring flowers to convey fleeting beauty and ends with the question, 'What to make of a diminished thing.'"[23] The record received positive reviews.[24][25]

The album was also notable for its album cover. The photograph by Joshua Black Wilkins features a topless woman wearing a painted papier-mâché mask Branan created, which Branan said he dreamed, that she represents a muse.[26] In discussing the cover, Branan described her being like a "Mississippi Madonna with a boom box, kind of like a folk art thing."[24]

The No-Hit Wonder

In 2014, Branan released The No-Hit Wonder on Bloodshot Records on August 19, 2014.[6] The album, produced by Paul Ebersold and recorded over the period of three days in Nashville at The Sound Kitchen,[6][27] features contributions by Craig Finn and Steve Selvidge of The Hold Steady, Tim Easton, Caitlin Rose, Austin Lucas, and Jason Isbell.[28] "Slick" Joe Fick from The Dempseys plays upright bass on the song "Sour Mash" – a song about a dry county where a whiskey company makes its liquor – and Audley Freed also appears. Sadler Vaden (Drivin N Cryin, Jason Isbell) is on electric guitar and John Radford on play drums on the record.[3]

The record was listed by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the top 40 country records of 2014.[29] Branan said that the passing of family members as well as his growing family changed his approach to songwriting. "You Make Me," which Isbell sings on, is a song about his wife, and "All I Got And Gone" is about the passing of his father.[30] Drummer John Radford (the Dynamites) and pedal steel guitar player Robby Turner play on the track "No Hit Wonder."[31]

Branan is working on his upcoming record, recording in Mississippi at Tweed Recording outside Oxford, Mississippi.[32][10]

Critical reception

In 2000, the Memphis chapter of The Recording Academy (formerly known as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS)) gave Branan the Phillips Award for Newcomer of the Year. At that time he didn’t even have a recording contract yet.[12][14]

In the fall of 2014, Branan was listed in Rolling Stone magazine's list of 10 New Artists You Need to Know.[33]


In April 2015, Branan was part of a Record Store Day release with label-mate, Lydia Loveless. The two artists cover two Prince songs: Loveless doing I Would Die 4 U and Branan doing Under The Cherry Moon. The 7" limited edition releases was pressed onto purple vinyl.[34]

Personal life

Branan lives in Nashville, Tennessee,[35] with his wife and son.[6] Branan and his wife were married at the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, Mississippi.[36] Branan also has a daughter from a previous relationship who lives in Tulsa.[10][37]


  • 2002: The Hell You Say (Madjack Records)
  • 2006: 12 Songs (Madjack Records)
  • 2012: Mutt (Bloodshot Records)
  • 2014: The No-Hit Wonder (Bloodshot Records)
  • 2017: "Adios" (Bloodshot Records
  • 2009: Jon Snodgrass / Cory Branan (Suburban Home)[38]
  • 2014: Under the Cherry Moon: "I Would Die 4 U" by Lydia Loveless / "Under The Cherry Moon" by Cory Branan (Bloodshot Records)[39]


  1. ^ Block, Melissa (26 August 2014). "Cory Branan: A 'No-Hit Wonder,' Making Small-Batch Country Music". All Things Considered. NPR. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  2. ^ Knox, Ron (27 August 2014). "Noisey - Cory Branan: A True No-Hit Wonder". Vice. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d Powers, Calvin (20 October 2014). "Ep#216 Cory Branan writes second-helping songs" (Podcast). Americana Music Show. Retrieved 3 September 2016. Interview at 36.08 
  4. ^ "Dallas Lee Branan". DeSoto Times-Tribune. 24 February 2010. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  5. ^ "Tate Record, Obituaries 3-2-10: Dallas Lee Branan". Tate Democrat-Record. 2 March 2010. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d Danton, Eric R. (12 August 2014). "Cory Branan Explores 'Tangled Roots' on 'The No-Hit Wonder' (Album Premiere)". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  7. ^ Hilder, Casey (April 2016). "No-Hit Wonder". Click Magazine. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  8. ^ Hayes, Hannah (27 August 2014). "The Daily South: If You Haven't Heard Cory Branan's "The No-Hit Wonder," You're Missing Out". Southern Living. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  9. ^ Dye, David (8 September 2014). "World Cafe Next: Cory Branan". World Cafe. NPR. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c Houlihan, Mary (22 July 2016). "Punk, metal, rap help shape Cory Branan's country music". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  11. ^ Ells, Blake (23 September 2014). "The no-hit wonder". Weld for Birmingham. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  12. ^ a b Morris, Chris (28 September 2002). "Declarations of Independents. Flag Waving: Cory Branan". Billboard. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  13. ^ Aued, Blake (1 January 2003). "Cory Branan: The Hell You Say". Paste. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  14. ^ a b Herrington, Chris (18 May 2001). "Out Of the Shadows: Cory Branan emerges with the year's best local record". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  15. ^ "Cory Branan: "Miss Ferguson"". The David Letterman Show. 2003. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Rosenfeld, Steven (1 March 2007). "Cory Branan - Words' Worth: With a Southerner's gift for storytelling, Cory Branan shines on 12 Songs". ASCAP. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  17. ^ Cunningham, Chuck (26 June 2012). "Cory Branan - Mutt". Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  18. ^ "ASCAP Audio Portrait: Cory Branan" (Audio clips). ASCAP. 16 April 2007. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  19. ^ "Cory Branan". Songwriters On Process. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  20. ^ Herrington, Chris (19 July 2012). "Turning the Corner". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  21. ^ Herrington, Chris (18 January 2012). "Cory Branan Signs with Bloodshot Records; Mutt Due in Spring". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  22. ^ Horowitz, Hal (4 June 2012). "Cory Brannan: Mutt". American Songwriter. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  23. ^ Paik, Ernest (2008). "Cory Branan". Mountain South.  |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  24. ^ a b Parton, Chris (14 June 2012). "Cory Branan Unleashes New Album, Mutt". CMT News. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  25. ^ Deusner, Stephen M. (23 May 2012). "Cory Branan: Mutt". Paste. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  26. ^ DeYoung, Bill (19 February 2013). "Conversations with musical 'Mutt' Cory Branan". Connect Savannah. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  27. ^ Reager, J. D. (6 November 2014). "Cory Branan at 1884 Saturday". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  28. ^ Recker, Scott (20 August 2014). "Cory Branan: The No-Hit Wonder". PopMatters. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  29. ^ Keiper, Nicole (10 December 2014). "40 Best Country Albums of 2014". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  30. ^ "ASCAP Audio Portrait: Cory Branan's The No Hit Wonder" (Audio clips). ASCAP. 16 July 2014. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  31. ^ Kelly, Jennifer (23 October 2014). "Subverting the Rules: An Interview with Cory Branan". PopMatters. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  32. ^ Devores, Courtney (9 June 2016). "Too country for rock, too left field for country, Cory Branan may be the best songwriter you haven't heard". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  33. ^ Leahey, Andrew (10 October 2014). "10 Country Artists You Need to Know Now". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  34. ^ Parton, Chris (21 April 2016). "Hear Lydia Loveless Cover Prince's 'I Would Die 4 U'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  35. ^ Hubbard, Susan (3 August 2016). "Interview with: Cory Branan". Mother Church Pew. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  36. ^ Leahey, Andrew (1 July 2014). "Hear Cory Branan & Jason Isbell's 'You Make Me'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  37. ^ Moore, John B. (16 October 2014). "Wonder-Ful: Cory Branan". Blurt Magazine. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  38. ^ "Cory Branan/Jon Snodgrass "Split" Cassette". Suburban Home. 2009. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  39. ^ "BS 228: I Would Die 4 U / Under the Cherry Moon (7" single)". Bloodshot Records. 10 March 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 

External links

  • Cory Branan
  • Cory Branan at Bloodshot Records
  • Cory Branan at MADJACK Records
  • Cory Branan discography at Discogs

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