David Correy was five years old when his dad built him his first stage.
“I always had something in my hand, pretending it was a microphone,” the 27-year-old singer recalls. “And when I stood on that stage, I felt like the world was up there with me.”
For the next nine months, it will be.
Correy is the voice behind “The World is Ours,” the global anthem for Coca-Cola’s 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign. He will travel the globe as part of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, performing select concerts along the 89-country route leading up to the tournament’s kickoff next June in São Paulo, Brazil.
He’ll also collaborate with artists on local versions of the song featuring different languages and sounds, and fans will have the chance to add their voices to the anthem at trophy tour events and through digital activations.
“Who would’ve thought as a kid that I’d be representing Coca-Cola and performing this great song for the FIFA World Cup in the country where I was born?” Correy says. “I haven’t been sleeping much these last few weeks because it’s finally sinking in.”
From Recife to RivaCorrey was born into poverty in Recife, Brazil. His mother, who was only 13 when she gave birth, had to put her son up for adoption when he was a year-and-a-half old. American parents adopted Correy and raised him thousands of miles away in Riva, Maryland. They encouraged his interest in singing and theater at an early age.
He landed the lead role in several school musicals and earned a full scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music.
But his road would soon turn rocky. A sudden bout with polyps disease claimed his voice, forcing him to leave Berklee during his sophomore year. He pressed on, however, writing songs and slowly regaining his ability to sing. Then, just as his career was regaining momentum, he faced another setback when a serious car accident left him with a fractured hip and a broken leg. He spent a year in rehab learning to walk again.
Long overdue for a break, Correy finally got one in 2012 when he appeared on The X-Factor reality show, winning the hearts of judges and viewers alike with his vocal chops, inspiring story and relentless optimism.
During his televised audition, he explained that he hoped to reunite with his birth mother through the show. A Brazilian newspaper eventually made the connection happen, and Correy’s final performance on the show was taped in Recife with his birth family and adoptive family watching proudly from the front row.
“It was the ultimate high,” he said during an interview with Billboard.
The Stars AlignThough he was eliminated in the finals of The X-Factor, Correy’s good karma continued into 2013. In April, he was on his way to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, when he got an unexpected email from Coca-Cola. A week later, he flew to Rio to meet Joe Belliotti, Coke’s head of global music marketing, and hit the studio.
Brazilian percussion ensemble Monobloco worked initially with Brazilian-born producer Mario Caldato, Jr. to record the song’s rhythm tracks, which hit songwriting team Rock Mafia then used to craft the lyrics and melody. Correy’s vocals were the final ingredient.
When he first heard the track, he couldn’t stop smiling.
“The first two lines – ‘Run like you’re born to fly/Live like you’ll never die’ – speak 100 percent to who I am and all the things I’ve overcome,” he says. “All of my struggles pour out of me when I sing this song. And I feel like everyone will feel what I’ve been through… the pain and also the joy of being and loving who you are.”
“When we bring music into our sports properties like FIFA and the Olympics, we want to find genuinely talented artists who embody the optimism and positivity of Coke,” he explains. “We knew David’s story and his connection to Brazil would resonate with people around the world.”
“The World is Ours” – which fuses Correy’s soaring pop vocals with samba, baile funk and technobraga rhythms – will expose football and music fans around the world to the signature sounds of the host nation. “Most people outside Brazil, especially young people, haven’t really experienced Brazilian music before because it hasn’t been mainstream in decades,” Belliotti adds.
This is not the first time Coca-Cola has used the FIFA World Cup to bring an up-and-coming artist to the global stage. A remix of K'NAAN's "Wavin' Flag" was used as the brand’s anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The Somali rapper collaborated with international artists to record 24 multilingual versions of the song, which topped the iTunes charts in 18 countries and sold more than 2.5 million downloads worldwide.
Singing for the WorldCorrey has always been both proud of his roots and remains a self-proclaimed football fanatic. In fact, one of his myriad tattoos features a Brazilian flag covering a hand making the heavy metal “horns” gesture. It appears in the single's cover photo.
“My upbringing has brought me so much diversity, and I feel like this song embodies that because it speaks to so many cultures,” Correy adds. “Getting the chance to intertwine other fans’ and artists’ influences with what I’m doing is really what this is all about. The stars have truly aligned.”
Last week, Correy joined Monobloco and Gaby Amarantos, the Brazilian singer who released a Portuguese version of the single this summer in Brazil, for the live premiere of “The World is Ours” at the ceremonial launch of the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour in Rio. They performed on a cloudless day atop Corcovado Mountain overlooking the city, with the Christ the Redeemer statue's arms outstretched above them.
“You’re singing for the world when you’re that high up,” Correy said the next morning en route to a music video shoot, still stirred by the emotional homecoming.
He explained that, just a few weeks ago, he was thumbing through a family scrapbook when he came across pictures of his adoptive parents at the iconic landmark. The shots were taken when they traveled to Brazil to adopt him more than 25 years ago.
“It has always been a dream of mine to see it for myself,” he said, “and now I have my own pictures to add to the scrapbook.”
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