Hidden talent in Morgantown:
Cletus Bean walks High Street with a song of her own
Published: Sunday, October 18, 2009
Updated: Saturday, October 24, 2009 04:10
You're walking down High Street and see a crowd of people, pitching money into an aspiring young singer's guitar case – not an unusual scene for a college town like Morgantown.
As the crowd starts to grow, you realize the voice you hear singing is unlike any other High Street performances you're used to – it's the unique voice of 18-year-old acoustic/folk singer Cletus Bean.
With a personality as eccentric as her self-chosen stage name, Bean has been singing and playing the guitar throughout the streets of Morgantown and in and out of venues like the Blue Moose Cafe and 123 Pleasant Street for about seven years.
"I usually don't come across people who don't like my music because I can sense what sort of music different types of people will like," Bean said. "The songs I choose to play at a certain performance are based on the vibe I am getting from the people I‘m performing for."
Taking influences from a wide range of artists like Alison Krauss, Nirvana and The Beatles, Bean's raspy, strong voice is far from that of the average teenager.
This unique sound and her outgoing personality have attracted attention to Bean that has formed her a fanbase within the Morgantown community.
Despite her musical talent and the ability to read her audience, Bean has never had formal voice or guitar lessons.
"I still don't know how to play the guitar," she said referring to correct technique. "I don't know how to read music; I do everything by ear," she explained. Bean claims that she can hear a song once through and have it mastered by the next try.
Bean admits to being somewhat of a troublemaker, having been kicked out of venues in the past. She claims her music is the only thing that has kept her strong while struggling to live on her own for the majority of her teen years.
"I've had a lot of freedom, but the guitar has really helped me stay away from trouble," Bean said. "I'll never do anything to sacrifice my music.
"My closest meaning to home is my music. High Street has become a home to me, too, and I think the guitar finds you good people to be around" she added.
These "good people" that Bean refers to includes Gary Tannenbaum, owner of The Blue Moose Cafe and a musician himself. Tannenbaum has watched Bean grow up through her participation in his cafe's Open Mic nights over the years.
"I remember the first time she played here. I could tell she had something by the way she belted out and got everyone's attention," Tannenbaum said of Bean at age 15.
Although Tannenbaum has issues with the rowdy, non-paying crowd that tags along with Bean when she plays at his cafe, he's never had a problem with her and enjoys her musical talent.
"Cletus is a mysterious and a curious girl, but I see a lot of potential in her as a musician," Tannenbaum said. "She just has that stage presence that gets your attention. People enjoy her.
"Her voice can go from trill and sweet to belting out something edgy," Tannenbaum spoke of Bean's sound. "It's very unique."
Former employer of Bean's, Burke Manning, owner of the local Pita Pit, is also a fan of her music.
Manning claims that Bean would sing and play the guitar outside of his store while on the clock, adding that it would bring in business.
"She would go out there and play for a little while, and the next thing you knew, we'd be packed," he said.
Bean has recently created an album covering songs like "Push" by Matchbox 20 and "Earth Angel" by Cat Stevens. The album also includes a rendition of Rihanna's "Umbrella," combining melodies and even beatboxing.
As for her goals as an artist, Bean claims she's not in it solely for the fame.
"I just want to play my music and inspire people the way that the music I've grown up around has inspired me," she said.
Bean plans to continue using music that she is so passionate about as a way of support, saying, "if I'm hungry and running out of money, I just go out to High Street and start playing."