“The imagined child of Jim Morrison and Alanis Morissette…”
J. Coursey Willis is a haunting figure in the alternative rock scene, known for his poignant lyrics, brooding sound, and galvanizing performances. Born on the banks of the Delaware River, he was adopted and raised on Kent Island, Maryland, where he found solace in the small town’s muddy roots. Growing up, Willis was drawn to the moonlight and macabre, discovering comfort in the darkness and channeling it to write music, an outlet to process his pain and trauma.
With a voice reminiscent of Eddie Vedder and Layne Staley, Willis captivated audiences during his early shows in dive bars and seedy clubs. They appreciated his raw honesty and introspective songs filled with tales of torment, tragedy, madness, and nostalgia. Despite spending a decade at the National Security Agency, Willis remained committed to music and released his debut EP, Missing October, in 2015. It features Bryan Ewald of PRS Guitars and Rami Jaffee of Foo Fighters.
Spurred by its success, Willis quit the NSA in pursuit of music and caught the attention of Candlebox guitarist and producer Island Styles. Together, they solidified his signature sound, delving deeper into the depths of the human psyche with the release of Isolation Diaries, a collection of moody melancholic singles created during COVID quarantine.
The chemistry continued when Willis formed a studio production team with members of Candlebox and Jimmie’s Chicken Shack, which doubled as his touring band, and began releasing music monthly. His most successful single to date, “Niles,” has been likened to a modern-day “Ballad of Curtis Loew.” He also co-wrote two well-received singles, “Goodbye Man” and “Am I Even Here,” with L.A.-based songwriter, filmmaker, and producer Jack Piatt.
Currently, Willis is working on his most ambitious project yet, Midnight Sirens, and releasing a collection of singles called Chronicles of Her. He has performed alongside musical greats like Days of the New, Seven Mary Three, L.A. Guns, and Blackfoot, as well as up-and-comers Daphne Eckman, Kavoossi, and Skribe.
J. Coursey Willis remains haunted by life’s little demons and although gritty themes of addiction, despair, and heartbreak permeate his music, there is a strange beauty amidst the darkness. His evocative voice and poetic lyrics have earned him a devoted following which grows with every release, a testament to the power of the naked sincerity found in the shadows. Willis welcomes the willing to his tumultuous ride … all aboard the train to Windy Hill.