I wish I wasn’t so hard on myself. I sometimes expect more than I can give and it can be very draining. I am working on this.
As a part of our series about music stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Cory Singer.
New Jersey native Cory Singer is an accomplished singer-songwriter/musician and theater performer. As an advocate and member of the autism community, Cory is not afraid to release his vulnerable and honest side through his music-sharing his battles and accomplishments of living life on the spectrum through his poetic words and melodies.
Cory is happy to premier the following single. Some fans have responded with feedback like:
“I cried when I saw your video. I’ve been taught that autism is a disease where a person will never be independent. I am so wrong. I’ve never been so happy to see the truth. My tears were happiness for my son”
“My oldest son who has autism too says you inspire him. Makes him feel so good to know that he can succeed too”https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/67c67805502eed43904fe4694f67f562
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series Cory! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?
Thank you for having me. I grew up doing musical theater regionally. I did my first show at ten years old and fell in love with the acting and performance and continued with musical theater through my first semester of college. I picked up the guitar when I was 17 years old and started expanding my musicality. Before then I only listened to theater tunes and then started playing Neil Young, ACDC, Dave Matthews, Clapton etc.. I participated in a singing competition in 2013 on BRAVO TV (The Kandi Factory) and I won the competition. I recorded my first song and made a music video “I Can Do Anything”, written for me by Grammy Award Winning Artist Kandi Burruss.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Winning “The Kandi Factory” really lit a fire for me because Kandi and I spoke about what it takes to become an artist and she introduced me to songwriting.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or take away that you took out of that story?
A few years ago I had an amazing gig at a legendary venue in New Jersey (The Stanhope House). It was such a great crowd and I left there feeling high on life. The next night I had a gig at a local smaller venue and it was horrible. The crowd wasn’t there for me, they were there for the party. It truly humbled me and showed me that no matter what gig you get you still have to show up and put on the best show, no matter what the circumstances are.
What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?
I would say don’t emulate my success, create your own success.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
“Focus on your abilities, Not your disabilities.” I have autism and I was raised to not let my disabilities stop me from achieving what I want for myself in this life.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My mother has always been my biggest supporter in everything I have worked for and always encouraged me to go for what I want in life. I have been doing theater and shows since I was ten years old. I would go to school at 7 am and then go to theaters, rehearsals and more. She was a single mother sometimes working two jobs, yet no matter what she always put me first.
Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?
As I said, I have autism. I use my TikTok platform to advocate for myself and other autistics and their families. I have grown a community of almost 200K people since last year. I spend a lot of time with my followers by going live and I try to keep up with their private messages and emails. It’s not easy but I love our community.
Can you tell us the backstory about what originally inspired you to feel passionate about this cause and to do something about it?
When I did “The Kandi Factory” I spoke openly about my autism but I did not like how they portrayed me. They edited the show to make it look like I was more challenged in my life. I thought they missed a great opportunity to use my story as a vehicle to inspire the autism community with my achievements. Too often, the media as a whole represents our community in a negative manner instead of highlighting our strengths.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?
The first time I posted on TikTok about my autism, the response that I got was overwhelming. I didn’t realize that there were so many people out there seeking someone to relate to and also to give them some hope.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
One of the publicists at my PR company called me up one day and shared that it was my TikTok videos that helped her realize that her adult daughter had autism. She had been misdiagnosed her entire life. Today, a few months since that call, her daughter proudly shares her new diagnosis with her social media followers.
Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?
Start listening to autistic people and stop speaking for them. Teach people about autism, the same way our society and government teaches us about blindness or deafness.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.
1. I wish I understood my autism when I was younger. As an adult I understand so much more, I wish I had someone like myself to look toward for guidance, acceptance and relatability.
2. I wish I was more prepared for adulthood. When you are young you think growing up will solve all your problems. When I grew to an age of adulthood I realized I was not prepared at all. I think most young adults feel this way.
3. I was an overweight kid and teenager. I wish I had found fitness and been open to eating healthier when I was younger.
4. I wish I had the confidence I have today vs. my school years. I was afraid of my shadow and today I am not afraid of many things, if I am afraid I try to conquer my fears. For instance, I went skydiving and I loved it.
5. I wish I wasn’t so hard on myself. I sometimes expect more than I can give and it can be very draining. I am working on this.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
That pineapple definitely belongs on pizza. Haha, but in all seriousness, to continue inspiring other autistics to embrace themselves and to continue educating society that there is not one face with autism. We are all unique and different. So therefore there is no cure and nor should there be. We are extraordinary people.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I would love to have lunch with Kevin Smith (film director). Eight years ago I had to have surgery which had me bedridden for 8 months. His movies helped me smile, laugh and get through a difficult time.
Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!