Fort Wayne is loaded with talent, and many folks toil for years without ever getting the attention they deserve. But Chris Worth has put the struggling artist game behind him, finding steady work not only in this area, but around the country. A diverse talent who can sing everything from Sinatra to R&B, Worth has been in the area off and on for much of his life, and while he plans to stick around, his popularity in other states – Florida in particular – could spell changes in the future.What makes his success most remarkable is that Worth didn’t spend his youth pining for a career in music. In fact, his first dabbling didn’t come until high school – and then for fairly uninspiring reasons.
“I signed up for choir because I didn’t want to take trigonometry,” he recalls now. “It was laziness! But this choir director was brutal.”
So much for taking the lazy way out. But fate had clearly stepped in to point Worth to his future, although he didn’t immediately steer himself toward a career in the field. Again, fate stepped in. He was being asked to sing at karaoke nights and eventually started teaming up with Paul New Stewart, which led to a surprising turn of events.
“I said, ‘They want to pay me to sing?’ I couldn’t believe it. But I started getting work more and more progressively since then. That was around 1999, 2000 – the turn of the century. And you know, it’s not rocket science. It’s a lot of fun, and I get paid moderately well for what I do. Some people tell me I work too much, actually, but I tell them ,‘No, I’m not. I get to do what I enjoy and get to see the country.’”
The amount of work he gets – and the distance he travels to perform – are especially amazing given that his means of self-promotion is essentially word-of-mouth. He has no agent or publicist to book the gigs which have taken him throughout the Midwest and as far as California and Florida. Worth, a former resident of Washington, D.C., may also be performing in his former hometown for “the highest office in the land.” While he can’t share more details yet, it’s clear word of Worth’s talents is getting around.
What makes his success less surprising is his willingness to do anything. While that means he’ll play weddings, clubs or any event you might wish to hold, it also means his musical catalog is vast and adaptable for any audience. In addition to his original music – and he hopes to record a CD of that material in the near future – he happily covers most any style of music.
“I can do a Motown Night, and I sing a lot of Sinatra. I’ll do hip-hop, funk, R&B, pop. I’ve done a country wedding. Growing up, I listened to all kinds of music and never had a mind set that this music was good or that music wasn’t. My tastes are eclectic, so I listened to everything. It’s been a lot of fun seeing how people respond to what I sing because a lot of people don’t expect all the different songs I do. I’ll see the looks on their faces like, ‘Oh my God, he knows that song?’”
That reaction could well come when, following a little tribute to Sinatra and the Rat Pack, Worth can seamlessly tear into an Alice in Chains song, putting his own unique stamp on it. Once audiences realize how broad his interests and abilities are, he’ll begin fielding requests, once again demonstrating how many musical styles he has mastered. Although his travels take him far from home, he’s grateful for the steady work he’s getting.
“I’m a workaholic, but the amount of work I’m getting freaks me out. It’s ridiculous because I’m working five or six nights a week. I love it, but I just can’t believe the quality of the work I’m being offered. I feel bad sometimes because there are a lot of talented people in Fort Wayne who aren’t getting as much work. I hate to say sometimes just how many shows I’m getting.”
Worth credits the support of family and friends for making his crazy schedule work. His wife, who teaches school in Huntington, is understanding about the time he spends away from home. She attends many of his shows, sitting quietly while he often calls to her from the stage.
“She is very understanding, and I am very lucky that she supports what I do since I have to travel so much.”
Worth’s schedule is so tight that work gets in the way of work sometimes. While many keep asking when his long-promised CD is going to appear, he keeps pushing the date back since he finds it hard to schedule time to record. With 21 original songs, including “Remember,” which he often plays live, he has the material but not the open dates to put down tracks. But through it all, Worth is happy with what he can do and doesn’t worry about what he hasn’t done yet.
“My best friend, Monte Nelson, always says ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff,’ and you know, I have everything I want. I have a good wife, a dog I absolutely love, good friends, a good job. I’m in a good spot right now. I wake up happy, I just do. I know it sounds corny, but I’m a happy guy.”
He’s also a guy who loves to perform wherever the opportunities present themselves. He’s working on a show now, hoping to produce on the Embassy stage. Called Basic Carpentry 101, he hopes to get seven or eight singers and an orchestra to pay tribute to the music of the Carpenters.
Worth says a show like that would draw a wide audience and be family-friendly, hoping he can make it happen in 2016. And while he has no plans at this time, it seems someone should book Worth to celebrate the Frank Sinatra centennial in December, right? Regardless of the musical genre or the venue or even what part of the country he’s taking by storm, Worth’s long-ago decision to be lazy and avoid trig has paid off for him and his audiences.
“I have a lot of drive, and I love to sing. I sing in the shower, and I get as much pleasure from that as I do from singing in front of an audience. It just vibrates through your system. It just feels good.”