He doesn’t read music, never took a lesson and has no formal training, yet Chris Worth has made a living by performing around the country. He sings, plays the keyboard and guitar, and writes his own songs.
“I’m a mutt when it comes to playing,” Worth says proudly. “I play instruments by ear and I’m really, really good at mimicking.”
The Fort Wayne native started singing in church choir at a young age and got lots of positive feedback as he reached his teenage years.
“When you sang, the girls kinda liked you. So it was as simple as that,” Worth says with a smile. He didn’t start taking music seriously until he was 19 or 20. Even then, he didn’t think he’d ever really be able to turn his passion into a career.
His family moved to the East Coast for many years, then he lived briefly in northeast Ohio before moving to the West Coast. Music was a huge part of his life then, but he was involved in what he called a “bad deal” with a record label and decided to put music on hold for awhile.
During that time, he worked in quality control for a company called Step 2.
“You know, reality hits and you have to get a good job,” says Worth of those early years.
His life took a major turn when he came back to Fort Wayne around 2001 to take care of ailing parents. About three weeks after his return, he was at Pierre’s nightclub and the karaoke hostess asked him to sing.
“There weren’t very many people there that night and she really needed someone else to get up and perform,” recalls Worth. Someone in the audience that night was impressed and hired him. The rest, as they say, is history.
He now performs at weddings, corporate events and even backyard gatherings. “If someone wants to pay me, I’ll sing for them,” he chuckles. “I’ve performed to a crowd of 40,000 people at a venue in Pittsburgh and also at small, intimate events, too. Both are a lot of fun.”
His shows have taken him to Florida, San Diego and Washington, D.C., but most are in the Midwest. He relies upon word of mouth and recommendations to find work.
“Even without advertising, I can book three to five jobs a week,” Worth says. “Enough to stay pretty busy and make a good living.”
His musical tastes bounce from groups like Earth, Wind & Fire, to rap artist 50 Cent, to classical. “I like everything,” he says. “And I’ll play whatever someone requests – R & B, hip hop, Sinatra, country. They call me the iPod because I know a lot of music. Songs I don’t even like – but you learn them because it gets you work.”
During most performances, it’s just Worth and a keyboard. He does collaborate with others and has performed as part of the duo Chris & Paul, the group Chris Worth & Company, which features several other local musicians, as well as a rock group called Apocoshyne. His shows are primarily made up of cover songs, but he writes original music in his home studio.
“It used to be that you had to go to studio to record anything,” he explains. “Now with technology, if you have the computer knowledge, you can do it all yourself. It can have the same quality as a studio.”
Worth just completed a piece that he said is “jazz fusion that turns a bit neoclassical. It’s hard to describe, but it works.”
Worth can be reached through his website zedirocmultimedia.com or find him on Facebook at facebook.com/chrisworthmusic/.