Next time you walk into a Starbucks store, stop and listen: You might hear Hoquiam native Ericka Corban on the store’s playlist.
The 27-year-old mom of two has three studio albums and frequently plays around the Harbor. She’s looking forward to her first show in San Diego and a music showcase at Melrose Market Studios in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. But it was her regular gig playing weekends in Seabrook at Mill 109 restaurant where a Starbucks vice-president heard her.
“He really liked the music and said he was going to get me licensed,” Corban said. “It’s actually been really good exposure, I’ve been getting calls from all over the country. It’s so bizarre.”
“She is a very talented musician. We’ve recognized that for a long time and have always thought we’d be able to say we knew her when. It’s only a matter of time until her talent is appreciated,” said Mill 109 General Manager Rob Paylor.
He was there the night the executive first heard Corban play, and said it’s the first time a connection like that has been made at the restaurant.
“We can’t believe that. We’re so proud of her,” Paylor said. “She’s a real good fit for the Mill, and really plays each crowd differently and reads each crowd as to what they’d like to hear out of the musician.”
For Corban, the best part of a wider audience has been emails from listeners about how her music affected them.
“One lady specifically said, ‘Thank you so much for this, it turned my whole bad week around.’ That’s why we do it, to reach those few who need to hear it,” Corban said.
In December, the contract was finalized and some of her songs were added to the company’s global playlist. She’s heard reports that one of her songs, “Lovin’ You” from her newest album, Daydream, has been heard as far away as a Florida college campus.
“I can’t believe it’s all the way over there,” she said. “I haven’t been there yet but my music has.”
The eclectic Christian-folk artist produced Daydream with the help of a successful Kickstarter fundraising campaign. Kickstarter is an online funding platform for creative projects where anyone — filmmakers, artists, musicians, teachers — can make a proposal, set a fundraising goal, and ask the public for private donations.
Corban, a 2003 Elma High School grad, studied vocal performance at Grays Harbor College. She plays with her husband of five years, Mattaniah, who plays guitar, piano, ukulele and percussion instruments. They’re sometimes joined on stage by friend Jeff Perin on the cello or bass.
She shies away from the idea of goals for her music, preferring instead to talk about her “purpose.”
“I want my music to help people and encourage people and inspire people,” Corban said. “I think it can be really moving and inspirational for a person to identify with.”
That Starbucks is providing a larger opportunity for her to work in the music business helps fulfill her purpose
“They’re such a huge and great company,” she said. “The music is out there and reaching people, and that’s such a gift, it’s a huge gift.”
Whether her commercial partnership will lead to big labels is still a question, but one Corban isn’t in a rush to answer. She and her husband represent themselves through a venture called Clothespin Records, and still work day jobs as caregivers.
“I want to keep it indie. If somebody came to me with a really great deal I wouldn’t turn it away, but it’s not my goal. … I feel like God is in control and when the right doors are supposed to be open, they’ll be opened.”
Paylor is more certain of Corban’s future. Of all the artists who play at Mill 109, he said Corban gets the most response from patrons, the most inquiries on how to find her music and has even been specifically mentioned in several positive reviews for the restaurant.
“She’ll move out of our price range pretty quick here I think,” he said.
Corban will play at Valentine’s celebrations at Calvary Chapel in Montesano Feb. 9 and 14 at 6 p.m., and at Westport Winery Feb. 15 and 16 at 5:30 p.m. She’s back at Mill 109 the following weekend.
For more information about Corban, including a complete calendar and links to download her music, visit erickacorban.com.