Toronto county-rocker Suzi Kory has one of those personalities you can’t forget. Outgoing, inquisitive, and friendly, it enables her to chat easily with Billy Ray Cyrus about her music for 90 minutes and ending up with a fan, hang out with Aerosmith and Black Sabbath, and go to Los Angeles with the express purpose of meeting Axl Rose and doing just that.
This kind of luck or chutzpah or kismet or serendipity — whatever you want to call it — spurred Suzi, an adult with two kids, to finally go into music, something her parents were dead set against when she was a teenager.
Produced in Los Angeles by Brent Woods (who plays guitar with Sebastian Bach, and Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins, and once toured with Vince Neil), Suzi’s forthcoming EP, Love Revolution, is reminiscent of Stevie Nicks, Susanna Hoffs, even Dolly Parton. Songs include “Outlaw,” about being a woman in the music industry and kicking butt; and two teaser singles that both have videos: “Secret Garden,” inspired by meeting The Tragically Hip on their final tour, aware they have to rebuild their identity after the loss of something so huge; and the autobiographical “Pretty Little Things,” about wanting to pursue music but listening to others who told her to take a different path.
“One day you just wake up and realize it doesn't matter what's happened before,” Suzi says. “I'm starting all over right now and doing it my way and discovering all the beautiful things in life when you do that. This incredible universe opens up.”
Born in Beirut, Suzi’s parents moved the family to Canada when she was eight months old. As a youngster, she was drawn to pop music, but her mother had country music on in the house, and Suzi sang along to it all. Then she was exposed to something heavier and more exciting — hard rock, most notably Guns N’ Roses. She officially became a rock chick. “I realized I want to do that. I want to be a performer,” she says. “I had a keyboard and a microphone and I started writing songs, but my parents were dead set against it. ‘You can do this, but it's not going outside of the bedroom.’”
And so Suzi launched a successful career in the airline industry, first in Amman, Jordan, and then in Canada, where she became a manager in customer service. Anyone who has encountered Suzi immediately gets the sense of her positive and enthusiastic personality, and it’s helped land her some cool opportunities. While she didn’t pursue a rock career, she entered a singing competition in the Middle East, broadcast on radio. One of the judges thought she had a voice for radio and hired her for ad and voiceover work. That led to her own three-hour English-language radio talk show on top 40 station Bliss 104.2.
In 2014, Suzi moved back to Toronto and, a year later, with her birthday approaching, she took the bull by the horns and went to Los Angeles to meet the reclusive Axl Rose. And in no time at all, she saw him walking down the street near his home and she got a photo with him. “That happening and making it come true made me realize I could pursue music and make it happen too,” she says.
Suzi started, like many before her, in a cover band, as well as getting comfortable just playing on a stage in front of people at jams and open mics. In 2016, she immersed herself in the music industry and received invitations to shows for Aerosmith in Mexico City, watching side stage, and in Prague, meeting and watching Black Sabbath. “I got to see what goes on behind the scenes. It was very interesting for me to see that part of it,” Suzi says.
At that point, she still hadn't done anything musically, in terms of writing. But at the end of the year, she had songs and was looking for a producer. She made a list of her favorite bands and one of them was The Glorious Sons. Noticing John-Angus MacDonald of The Trews had worked with them, she reached out to his manager. She sent him a homemade demo recording, describing her sound as a female Guns N’ Roses or Lee Aaron. They ended up creating an EP, Spellcasting.
Her debut live show was opening for L.A. Guns in Toronto; her second was opening for them in LA at the famed Whisky a Go-Go. Her third? In Brazil, at the massive Festival CoMA.
While in LA for her photoshoot with Canadian Igor Vidyashev in early 2017, he suggested she connect with Brent Woods and they became friends. Later in the year, when she was looking to do a new project, she asked him to produce. “I just thought, ‘This guy is my person.’ He had critiqued my other music and was very honest. That's how we started working together.”
“I went to LA for two weeks and worked on my music with Brent’s guidance. He said, ‘Just go a little bit deeper and find your own sound, not trying to be like Guns N’ Roses. Just find out who you are. And that's when the shift happened to country, being more true to who I am.
“I'm a very positive person and always trying to motivate people. One of the things I do is also motivational speaking. So that's what the songs became about — love and living a life of loving people, loving yourself, and finding happiness by being genuine and true to who you are. The important thing to me is to use music in such a way that it affects people in a positive way.”