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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 65
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Location: Long Island, New York

26 Sep 2022, 6:56 am

Interview: Autism Advocate, New Jersey-Based Singer-Songwriter Cory Singer Releases First Single 'I Still Love You'

He's belted out the National Anthem in the electrifying moments before the New Jersey Devils took the ice, and played John Travolta's portrayal of the spunky, unabashed, curvy and proud Edna Turnblad in Hairspray singing, "You can't stop my happiness, 'cause I like the way I am," during his rousing performance of "You Can't Stop the Beat" in his high school musical.

These days, Cory Singer, the 27-year-old New Jersey-based entertainer who has single-handedly become a poster child for the autism community, is looking inward. On Aug. 5, he released his first original song, the chivalrously sung, bitter-sweet "I Still Love You," produced by Justin Bandolon written while in the throes of his first heartbreak. He uses Glenn Hansard's heart-wrenching "Falling Slowly," which won the Oscar in 2007 for Best Original Song, as the backdrop. Singer described the relationship with his first real girlfriend as a sort of whirlwind romance that later fizzled out: "I thought we'd be together/in-stead I'm searching for closure/you and me could have been a for-ever," he sings beautifully along to an upbeat, melodic, wistful instrumentation. In the music video, he appears to be revisiting the park he used to frequent with his former lover to help him cope with, accept and embrace the loss of the relationship: he's now taking selfies by himself with a depiction of the words "I Still Love You" inscribed in chalk on the concrete.

With his first song well-received by listeners with more than 10,000 views on YouTube since its release last month, Singer seems well-positioned for a future as a singer-songwriter. Despite a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, a mild form of autism that typically manifests as emotional mismanagement, missed social cues, high sensitivity to stimuli and poor penmanship, he has used the developmental disorder - the rate of which is one in 35 in the Garden State out of 44 on a national scale - to his advantage. Among the unique characteristics of the disorder is the ability to memorize information and facts and easily. This made acting - which requires being both emotional on cue and reciting pages of lines by heart - a seamless undertaking.

“I've always been a creative person. It's always been a way to express myself in the performing arts, doing theater, and when you're autistic and 'weird' and you're the outcast, you find a way to express yourself."

He's of course referring to his awkward years. While he was in high school circa 2011, Singer was the self-described "weird kid" in school, and used his innate acting talent to gain his peers' respect.

"I love making people smile. I love entertaining people, and I like making a fool of myself," he said.

In his sophomore years, he played Reverend Shaw Moore in his theater group's production of "Footloose." In recent years, he performed for the Sound Mind Network, for which he is an ambassador, music festival with Kevin Bacon in Atlantic City, the star of the 1984 blockbuster. He also won Bravo TV's singing competition, "The Kandi Factory," and was nominated for Best Vocal Performance in 2013 for his role in Tony Award winner Joe DiPietro's "The Last Romance."

Though he describes his childhood was riddled with frustration as his relationships at times suffered stemming from a miscommunication between his peers, technological advancements in the last two decades with social media platforms has given autistic people like himself a voice. Today, he uses TikTok as a therapeutic platform to discuss the disorder with other kids on the spectrum and address feelings that may be too shameful to discuss with other people. Singer currently has more than 409,000 followers and 14 million likes. The praise from his followers has been humbling.

“There's nothing wrong with being autistic," said Singer. "The worst thing is pretending you're OK. Knowing I help people is humbling; they help me in return. Autistic people have a voice through TikTok and YouTube where we can talk about it."

Apart from mentoring others on the spectrum and at times using humor to help them gain self-acceptance and provide insight as a coping mechanism to offer hope, he encourages others with the diagnosis to focus on their abilities. And for Singer, songwriting is.

Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman