Many people spend months and years trying to perfect a musical talent, contributing time and money into lessons and classes. But for one local 19-year-old, music has become a way for him to define himself and live his life. Drake Burd’s outstanding abilities classify him as nothing less than a musical prodigy.
From impeccable pitch to a mastery of musical instruments, this young man’s talent is more than 14 years in the making, though he displays a remarkable ability to pick things up instantly.
“He took to music from a very young age,” recalled his father, Scott Burd. “He walked up to the piano at church when he was 4 years old and started hitting the keys. Determined to see where it could take him, Scott Burd signed his son up for piano lessons. “After only the second lesson,” said Scott Burd, “he was able to play harmony along with his teacher while she played the melody.”
From there, Drake Burd pursued music, picking up any instruments he could get his hands on and showing a joy for singing, too. He sings and plays with members of Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church on Sundays. Through high school at Sussex Tech, he devoted four years to both the band and chorus.
Drake Burd also made all-state chorus, which earned him a European tour this past summer. He traveled with top singers from the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware region, across the continent’s mainland, performing in cities including Heidelberg, Germany, and Venice and Florence in Italy.
During the tour, he also landed a solo number in “Duke of Earl.” At the end of his fourth year at Sussex Tech, he was also recognized and awarded as the most outstanding student in the chorus.
As for the instrumental realm, Drake Burd has learned to play a wide range, including saxophone, harmonica, keyboard and drums, most of which he taught himself. What really stands out, though, is his innovative take on guitar-playing.
“The most unique thing is Drake’s own style,” said his father. “He plays guitar like a steel guitar.” By laying the guitar on his lap or stand in front of him, Drake Burd performs in a rare manner that most haven’t seen or tried. “That really amazes people,” said Scott Burd, “especially other musicians, when they watch him. They recognize that there’s something different going on and can really appreciate Drake’s technique.”
The technique has earned Drake Burd much respect. “A lot of people say they wish they could play like me,” said Drake Burd. “I find this to be easier.”
He spent one summer playing with the local group Sombrero and has opened for local favorites such as Aaron D. Howell and Randy Lee Ashcraft. He has played at the Nassau Valley Vineyards in Lewes, at Steakhouse 26 in the Millville Town Center, and at Relay for Life, an event to raise money for research and programs of the American Cancer Society.
Drake Burd now primarily sticks with solo shows. He currently performs at Dirty Harry’s Restaurant and Bakery, along Route 1 in Fenwick Island, on Sundays at 4:30 p.m. and makes regular appearances at Open Mike Night at Bethany’s Chalkboard Bar and Grill on Thursdays around 9 p.m.
His repertoire ranges from the 1950’s to today’s hits, from rock to country and Western. Classics made popular by Elvis, The Doors, Jimmy Buffet and John Mellencamp are just a taste of what he offers.
“Some of his favorites are songs from the ’70s,” said Scott Burd, “but he really likes anything. He knows an endless list of songs, and they’re ones that everyone can sing along to.”
It only takes Drake Burd a few times hearing a new song before he can master it and add it to his ever-growing list. He has written some of his own songs, as well, but sticks with covers most of the time.
Now a student at Delaware Technical and Community College, Drake Burd studies communications, but makes sure to balance his time with music. He has begun work on a demo CD and said he would like to get into DJ’ing, too.
Scott Burd, who owns and runs a local closet company, Beautiful Closets, said he is very supportive of his son. “He’s a real special person,” Scott Burd said. “It’s really nice to have someone with all of this musical ability. I’ve never known anyone who’s had his talent, and it’s really something great.”