Playing For The People

By Haley Rey, Head Copyeditor

Photos by Haley Rey and Kelsey Cameron

Growing up, we all had our dreams. Some people hoped to become movie stars, astronauts, doctors—even superheroes. Plenty of us give up on dreams we deem unrealistic and decide to focus on something else we love. Once in a while, however, you find a gambler doing everything they can to make it big in what they enjoy the most. McKendree’s own Matt DeTore is one of those dice-rollers, and his story has only just begun. 

Matt first felt the magic of music in the fifth grade.

“The first instrument I ever played was the bass clarinet,” DeTore said. “Then I learned trumpet, percussion, flugelhorn, harmonica, electric and acoustic guitar, piano, and ukulele.” 

All of these were self-taught, with a little help from various YouTube videos. 

Obviously, his life has been very musical. It wasn’t until recently, however, that he decided to really go for it with his song writing abilities and voice. 

“‘Simple Life’ is the first song I started performing regularly,” DeTore said. “It was also the first one I ever released on streaming services.” 

He now has two songs available on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, and SoundCloud, and is currently working to put a third one out into the world. 

“My next song that will be released is called ‘Puppy Love,’ and I’m doing it through a recording studio this time instead of on my own,” he said. 

He is working with Flatlander Studios LLC in Mascoutah, IL, to release this song. DeTore explained how he was able to book time in a real studio.

“I work at the Hett, as well, and I met the percussion specialist for the Traveling Salvation Show,” he said. “He has his own recording studio.” 

DeTore has a knack for creating a path for himself to get to where he wants to be. When asked exactly where he wants to end up, his answer was simple: “Madison Square Garden. I have a very, very long way to go, though. I’m barely scratching the surface with what I want to do right now.” 

There are a few important stepping stones on his list. 

“I still want to perform at bars and really develop my skills and get better as a musician,” DeTore said. “Then I’d like to move on to bigger venues, but I’m very loyal to Lebanon. Eventually, I’d like to possibly audition for a record label, and then go on tour. Then, we’ll just see what happens!”

Matt plays regular shows in the area, at places like Seven in Belleville and Ron’s Lounge (near campus). At his shows, he impresses the crowd with both originals and covers. He explained which are his favorite to perform at these shows and why.

When asked what his favorite song was to cover, he replied, “‘Lady May’ by Tyler Childers. Back when I used to work at Dollar General, I could have music playing while I stocked the shelves. It came on and I replayed it for four hours, went home, and learned it immediately. It’s one of the coziest love songs I’ve ever heard.” 

DeTore’s favorite original song to play is called ‘Whiskey Soaked Tears’. It’s inspired by a story he wrote, and he decided to turn it into a song. He had the original version done within a few weeks, but decided to change it. The version he has now took him a few months to complete, and it is the final version. DeTore is clearly determined to create the best content possible for his supporters. 

Matt has put on several shows in town at Ron’s Lounge. 

“I really like playing there; they gave me my first shot,” he said. “My first show there lasted two hours. As far as my original songs, I sang ‘Simple Life’, ‘From the Start’, ‘Whiskey Soaked Tears’, and ‘Mine’. I have a show there on Halloween!” 

More information about this show can be found on

Despite his bee-line efforts to make it in the music world, DeTore is still pursuing a bachelor’s degree. 

“My parents forced me to go to college,” DeTore said with a laugh. “It’s really sort of a back-pocket degree in BioPsychology. I only plan on utilizing it if I’m not able to, well, feed myself.” Whether it’s through music or not, Matt wants to help people. “I figure that if I can’t do music, the least I can do is help people with mental health problems and really any personal problems. If it ever gets to the point where I can’t make music, I’ll probably go back to school to get my Masters in Music Therapy. 

Although DeTore began his music career before the coronavirus hit, it has set him back a bit just as it has the rest of the world. 

“Without the virus, I absolutely think I’d be further along,” DeTore said. “If you look at the way COVID-19 has affected businesses in the local area… It’s about twice as bad for the local musician. It’s been rough trying to find some shows, but I’m very grateful for the places I’ve been able to play at.”

Matt DeTore, inspired by his friends, family, and Ed Sheeran, is setting up the life he wants for himself without apology. 

“The three most important things to do to be successful are to practice, accept constructive criticism, and be honest with yourself,” said DeTore. 

He is determined to selflessly serve others, one way or another. He just so happens to be doing so in a way he has dreamt about his whole life.

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