Dallas native and current Yale University student Conner Youngblood names a diverse group of artists as his influences, from Kid Cudi and Gorillaz to Ray Lamontagne and Elliot Smith, incorporating a unique blend of electronic synths and traditional acoustic instruments into his original material. Balancing his academic pursuits as an American Studies major (just like your humble author) with a blossoming music career, Conner has posted a solid string of singles on his Soundcloud page, including a recent interpretation of Michael Jackson‘s iconic “Will You Be There.”
Best known as the triumphant theme song from the beloved 1993 children’s film Free Willy, the original “Will You Be There” featured a dramatic gospel choir refrain and MJ’s over-the-top vocals, but Conner takes a decidedly more understated approach in his cover. Shifting the focus from vocal performances to the simple drum part and a sustained organ drone, the cover has a much less cinematic, more laid-back feel. Layers of reversed melody and subtle banjo picking add to the ambiance, while the famous riff appears both sung and played on piano. Stream and download the track below.
Check out more from Conner Youngblood on his Myspace.