New Orleans --
Many Marines have talents that stretch the boundaries of normal Marine Corps and military life. Lt. Col. Michael (Mike) Corrado is one such Marine. A singer/song writer in his spare time, Corrado has been featured on shows such as Country Music Television, Great American Country, Armed Forces Network and more, performing with Toby Keith, Bon Jovi and many more.
A Passion for Music
Corrado has been playing music for most of his life, and when it came time to choose which college to attend, he was stuck between East Carolina University or The Citadel College of South Carolina.
“I wanted to focus on my education but I still wound up playing music,” said Corrado. “It was at The Citadel that I learned about the various Marine programs and ended up taking the Marine Corps option from there, still playing music all along the way.”
While facing a new busy lifestyle, at his first duty station, he still found time to continue his passion for music whenever he could.
“When I wasn’t in the field or deployed I would go out and play music at local beach bars and things like that,” he said. “Things started progressing and I put out an EP, which is a six song CD, and then the crowds got bigger, the venues got bigger, and we started expanding.”
Corrado along with members from the 2nd Marine Division band, started their own group which performed 200 – 250 shows a year.
“We all got out around the same time,” he said. “We hit the road together, playing up and down the East Coast and throughout the Southeast.”
The group was doing well, opening for big names and booking more venues, and even had a new album set to release, then came Sep. 11, 2001.
From Music Tour to Tour of Duty
The military faced a large boom in recruitment after 9/11, and many service members, Corrado included, were re-mobilized to active duty.
“I was still based out of North Carolina (while in the Inactive Ready Reserve) at the time, so I ended up getting mobilized and worked for 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, Headquarters Group, as the operations officer and Headquarters and Service company commander,” he said. “That’s how I was on active duty, got out, and then came back.”
According to Corrado, he was mobilized for one year, which turned into four years, including a 12-month deployment to Fallujah, Iraq.
“At that point, I came to another fork in the road,” he said. “So I put in a package and got selected for the Active Reserve program.”
“I think a lot of my inspiration comes from the people that I am surrounded with,” he said, speaking of his fellow Marines and service members.
Corrado has been able to write and perform and was afforded the opportunity to do a lot of different things with the Wounded Warrior Regiment and other veteran service agencies.
“I have been fortunate enough to have shared the stage with some pretty big folks,” he said. “And still have a following of my own, and a lot of that is military oriented.”
Corrado says his song ‘Lucky One,’ really hits on military topics and trauma that he wishes to raise awareness for.
Communication through Music
“’Lucky One,’ is about PTSD and survivor guilt and was several stories that morphed into one song,” he said. “Going through long deployments and then seeing fellow Marines go through long periods of separation and families falling apart and stress of work or combat and some of the struggles.”
Corrado said he wanted to write a song that would relate to non-military members and would help explain some of the challenges service members experience. He used personal stories of his own Marines to help fuel some of the topics he takes on in his songwriting.
“The song ‘Still in the Fight,’ I wrote that song about our wounded warriors,” he said. “I had a Marine who got hurt pretty bad when we were in Fallujah, and just watching him go through a two to three year journey through the burn center and just watching how he continued to persevere and meet that new normal in regards with his recovery and how to bounce back from catastrophic injuries.”
Corrado says there’s a duality with music and the Marine Corps.
“You can do great things with music,” he said. “It’s a powerful communication tool that can be used to explain the challenges that non-military folks may not understand, and it’s also an opportunity to tell peoples’ stories. Some people are just so courageous and resilient, and they never quit.”
Falling in to the Country music genre seemed to just be a natural fit for Corrado.
“Country music and patriotic Americans just seem to go hand-in-hand,” he said. “I wrote a song called ‘Stand,’ which is about service members past, present and future and all the families that stand behind them, and it is kind of one of those all-encompassing songs.”
The music video for “Stand” was shot while Corrado was stationed in Hawaii and ended up being featured on CMT. That is when Corrado believes he was solidified in country music.
With his music becoming more and more popular, Corrado says he still lets people know he is a Marine first and foremost.
“It has been an interesting ride, balancing music and the Marine Corps,” he said. “The Marine Corps always comes first, the oath that I took and the responsibilities that I have always come first and foremost. The people who know me for my music know that I am a Marine and they are very understanding to that. I get a lot of offers to play all over the country at various events and venues and the very first thing I do is make sure I check the schedule and see if it is something I can fit in and if not I just have to let them know I can’t do it, that I have commitments, and they understand.”
Even with his stunning music credentials, Corrado plans to continue his Marine Corps career.
“When I accepted coming into the AR program I made my choice,” he said. “My profession is a Marine and my hobby is music. It’s something I have always done and something I always will do, when the time comes to retire I hope to get more into writing songs for other artists.”
Those who live in the New Orleans area have the opportunity to see Corrado live in concert at various venues as he sings about true stories of service members and their families. For more information on music and upcoming events, visit www.mikecorrado.com.