David Correy, a 26-year-old singer from Annapolis, is struggling to find the words to describe the 2006 car accident that occurred after he fell asleep at the wheel. It nearly left him paralyzed.
"I've never screamed so loud in my life. I remember crawling out of the car ..." Correy said before trailing off. He clears his throat and apologizes.
"It's hard to talk about," he said. "People don't get it yet. Sixty-five staples and three plates in my hip. They thought I wouldn't walk again because my knee was so bent out of place."
Correy says it took a year of rehabilitation to learn to walk again, but now, to the surprise of his doctors, he's running so much he recently dropped 25 pounds. Fittingly, his drive to recover physically mirrors Correy's desire to make it as a pop star.
"Michael Jackson is my hero," Correy, who headlines the Talking Head Club at Sonar on Friday, said. "He embodies influences of R&B, hip-hop, soul and put it into pop music. That's my goal."
Legitimate comparisons to the King of Pop aren't likely coming, but Correy has seen his music win new listeners in the digital age. His Twitter feed has more than 200,000 followers and is filled with re-tweets from enthusiastic fans.
Correy hopes that fan base will continue to grow with the release of his EP, "S'Animer," later this month. The first single, the pop-meets-house love song "Show Me," could work on Top 40 radio right now, with its familiar four-on-the-floor stomp and Correy's airy vocals reminiscent of The-Dream.
Like all aspiring artists, Correy hopes his next release leads to his big break.
"The biggest roadblock has been finding the right person to hear it and take a chance," he said.
Correy remains confident his time will come. He says he's waiting for labels to embrace individuality again.
"Everything these days is so generic," he said. "Everyone wants to wear this or go to the club and do this. I'm not that guy. I don't need 30 chains to take your chick."
He credits his confidence to being on stage at an early age. Correy's father built him a makeshift stage in his backyard when he was 5. In seventh grade, he was the lead in "Bye Bye Birdie" and studying Elvis performances.
The Brazilian-born singer says that whenever he felt nervous, he'd find his mother in the crowd. Now, even when she's not there, he's reminded of her every time he takes the stage, thanks to his most prized tattoo.
"The one on my hand says 'Breathe,'" the heavily inked singer said. "When I was a kid, she used to tell me to breathe. I could read her lips in the audience. Now, every time I grab the mike, I see it."
Will Correy see the reminder from the stages his hero, Michael Jackson, once graced? Time will tell, but Correy — who says his ultimate goal is to land a major label co-venture deal for his independent company, Urban Rock Records — remains committed to his dreams. He says he's simply come too far to give up now.
"I've seen so many people with potential fade away or not progress," Correy said. "I want to inspire every kid with my story. There's a lot of passion with me, dude."
If you go
David Correy performs Friday at the Talking Head Club at Sonar, 407 E. Saratoga St. A Cool Stick, Chief, Deuce and Three Tree Experience will also perform. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call 410-783-7888 or go to sonarbaltimore.com.