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Marc Cohn

Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Marc Cohn, who's known for "Walking in Memphis," will perform Saturday in Mason City.

MASON CITY | A line in a book, a conversation, a thought or a text.

Those are some things Marc Cohn, a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, said have inspired the music he’s written about his life.

“You just never know,” he said. “After writing a couple hundred songs, no two came to me the same way.”

Cohn will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the North Iowa Community Auditorium, 500 College Drive, in Mason City as part of the 2018-2019 Performing Arts and Leadership Series.

His performance is part of a months-long tour, including stops in Iowa City and Des Moines earlier this week, after taking much of this fall off to write.

Cohn who’s widely known for hits like, “Walking in Memphis,” “True Companion” and “Silver Thunderbird,” has been interested in music since he was a child.

He said his desire to become a musician stemmed from the “brilliant music” of notable musicians like The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel and Joni Mitchell and his interest in playing the guitar and piano.

“I had enough will and a little bit of talent and kept working at it,” Cohn said. “Now, 30 years later I’m still on the road.”

After winning a Grammy for his soulful ballad “Walking in Memphis,” Cohn had two more releases in the 1990s.

Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, David Crosby, Graham Nash and Patty Griffin made guest appearances on Cohn’s early records for Atlantic as his reputation as an artist and performer continued to grow.

“With a big corporate machine like Atlantic, you feel a certain obligation to say, ‘Yes,’ to playing all year long, and when you’re done with that, it starts again,” he said. “I felt a lot of pressure. I didn’t see my family very much, but I was really too young and too hungry to be honest to say, ‘No,’ to anything.”

In 1998, Cohn took a decade-long sabbatical from recording, ending in 2007 with “Join the Parade,” an album inspired by the horrific events after Hurricane Katrina and his own near-fatal shooting just weeks before.

Now, an independent artist, Cohn said his music and performance schedule is more suitable for his life and his children’s lives.

“I’m enjoying touring way more than I did at the beginning of my life even though I’m touring and playing more,” he said.

In March 2016, Cohn celebrated the 25th anniversary of his debut album with the release of never-before-heard songs and demos dating back to years before his career as a musician launched.

His momentum continued into 2017, which he spent in part on the road with the legendary Michael McDonald and writing for American music greats like soul survivor William Bell, who won his first Grammy at 78 with Cohn’s help.

Cohn said he recently started to write songs for his first album in a decade after “a lot of writer’s block over the years.”

He’s been working with Blind Boys of Alabama, Cohn calls “legendary American treasures,” on their upcoming record, which he anticipates will be released next summer.

“After that, I’d release my own record, but still put out an EP the middle of next year,” he said.

Despite a platinum-selling self-titled debut and a Grammy, Cohn said the “biggest thrill” and “greatest thing” he’s grateful for is writing music that resonates with people.

“It’s an incredible thing to have written 40 or 50 songs that an audience keeps coming back to hear,” he said. “I don’t take that for granted. It’s an amazing way to live a life, and I love playing live ... It’s a pretty wonderful job.”

For more about Marc Cohn, visit marccohnmusic.com.

To purchase tickets to the show, call the North Iowa Area Community College Box Office at 641-422-4188 or visit www.niacc.edu.

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Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.

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