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With a fresh face, bubbly personality and a sound that is equal parts contagious and sassy, Courtney Cole has spent many years crafting her music and creating positive messages in her lyrics that inspire others in their lives.
At an early age, you could not ignore that Courtney Cole was destined to become a singer … make that a totally dedicated artist, with an infectious charm and upbeat optimism that leaves you feeling better about yourself when you walk away. More than that, Courtney showed all the signs of respecting tradition in all types of music even as she found her own unique way as a song stylist. Some of that comes down to an accident of geography in that she happened to grow up just outside one of America's greatest musical cities.
"We lived in Mandeville, 24 miles north of New Orleans," she recalls, aglow after finishing a yoga workout near the Nashville cafe where we meet. "My mom used to shop in the French Quarter, and if you're walking around there, you can't not hear music. So I was always dancing as we went all around the city and soaking it all in."
She was 5 years old when she took her first bow onstage, at a talent show in her church; she and her father lip-synced "I Got You, Babe" together, with Dad dressed as Sonny and Courtney wearing a Cher wig. (Later, they would get into costume again and this time perform the Judds' "Mama, He's Crazy," with her father in skirt and wig and augmenting his figure with a couple of balloons.)
By age 10, Courtney had begun doing musical theater. She even attended NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts), where she continued to appear in productions of Broadway shows, including The Music Man, The Wizard of Oz, several productions of Annie, five productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and her favorite, Little Shop of Horrors.
But country music remained in her veins.
"My parents met two-stepping in a country bar," she says. "So I feel like my love of country music started way early on.” she smiles. “Music was always in our lives. I always loved the emotion that is the heart of country music, and I'm a very emotional person. Being able to sing how you feel and put music to it, that’s what I live for!”
Courtney's love for country drew her to Nashville, where she enrolled in Belmont University. As a commercial voice major, she studied multiple styles of singing, including jazz, classical and of course country. "But whatever I sang, it always came out country," she admits, smiling.
Although singing was her main focus at Belmont, Courtney also devoted a good amount of time there to writing songs. She had finished her first one, " Begin with Me," during her sophomore year in high school, using a pawnshop guitar and teaching herself chords with a computer program. "I always heard songs in my imagination," she says. "But because everybody at Belmont was really good at songwriting, I would only write secretly on my own. I never played them for anybody because I didn't think they were very good."
That changed when she found an internship at Black River Entertainment. The publishing company hired Courtney after her graduation. As she rose from publishing assistant to executive assistant and radio coordinator during her five-year run, Courtney learned by listening to the staff writers come up with songs in a studio next to her office.
"So I started writing after work, from 6 to 10 at night," she says. "Finally I started playing them for the publisher and she actually liked them! That brought me out of my shell and gave me confidence.”
Along with that confidence, came an audition for a TV show. The world got its first look at Courtney in 2011 on CMT: The Next Superstar. The series documented her talent and followed her pursuit of a country music career while she shared a house with other up-and- comers. A growing fan base began following her through social media. And just as important, after the last episode aired, Courtney was offered a full-time publishing deal. It was a dream come true!
“To be able to concentrate on music full-time was what I had been working so hard for and to finally get there was amazing! Being in a writing room with some of the songwriters in Nashville that I had admired for so long was surreal.”
In the midst of songwriting, Courtney has many touring opportunities that have come her way… big ones. Already she has opened across the country for Kip Moore, Granger Smith, Thompson Square, Josh Thompson and Chris Young to name a few. She’s also been singled out as a Spotify Spotlight Artist and tagged by Huffington Post as one of its Country Artists to Watch in 2015!
Courtney has also recorded an acoustic EP, titled #NoFilter for Spotify and has her first song, “Drunk”, at Itunes, which she wrote with Catt Gravitt, Gerald O'Brien and Shirazi. With the clever lyric, catchy tune, high production quality and Courtney's playful charisma seamlessly threaded together, the music video along with the single hit No. 1 on Taste of Country's Top 10 Countdown within two weeks and debuted at No. 8 on CMT Pure 12 Pack Countdown. It also prompted ShotGun Seat to observe, "Cole achieves the perfect balance of being simultaneously strong and vulnerable, like an early Taylor Swift."
It's all happening fast … and Courtney, empowered by her desire to make music that inspires her and hopefully inspires others, is taking it all in and thoroughly enjoying the journey. Her next step on this adventure is an opening spot on Miranda Lambert’s “Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars” Tour, launching in September, while also continuing to write and work on new music.
"I really cherish this time because there is excitement around every turn and I don’t want to take that for granted. I love life and I’m grateful that I get to wake up each morning and create.”