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.
Cole loved music from the moment she could remember. Cole grew up just 20 minutes outside of one of America’s most diverse cities, New Orleans, where music was everywhere. She was exposed to country, pop, zydeco, R&B, jazz and more wherever she went. At age 5, she took her first bow onstage at a talent show in her church where she and her father lip-synced “I Got You Babe” together, with her father dressed as Sonny while she wore a Cher wig. At age 10, she attended New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), where she appeared in productions of “The Music Man,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Annie,” “Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and her favorite, “Little Shop of Horrors.”
At an early age, she fell in love with strong, powerful female voices such as Shania Twain, Martina McBride, Faith Hill and the Dixie Chicks. She loved their sound, identified with their songs and knew she had found her calling in life. She loved all forms of music, but country music was in her veins.
“My parents met two-stepping in a country bar,” said Cole. “So I feel like my love of country music started way early on. 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!”
Her love of country music drew her to Nashville, where she enrolled in, and eventually graduated from, Belmont University as a commercial voice major. Although singing was her main focus at Belmont, Cole also devoted a good amount of time to writing songs, something she began in high school while learning chords using a pawnshop guitar and 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 landed an internship at Black River Entertainment and dipped her toe into the music industry. Upon graduation, the company hired her and she rose from publishing assistant to executive assistant and then radio coordinator during her five years at the label and publishing company. Cole got a crash course in the art of songwriting by getting to know the staff songwriters and listening as they came up with songs in a studio next to her office.
“So I started writing after work, from 6 to 10 at night,” Cole said. “Finally I started playing them for the publisher and to my surprise, she really liked them! That brought me out of my shell and gave me the boost in confidence I needed to explore my dream professionally.”
Along with that confidence, came an audition for a TV show. The world got its first look at Cole 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. After the last episode aired, she was offered a full-time publishing deal.
“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,” said Cole. “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, Cole has garnered many touring opportunities, opening for Kane Brown, Kip Moore, Old Dominion, Granger Smith, Josh Thompson, Thompson Square, Chris Young and more at venues across the country. She was singled out as a Spotify Spotlight Artist while The Huffington Post named her as one of its “Country Artists to Watch in 2015.”
While performing on Miranda Lambert’s Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars Tour in the fall of 2015, Cole released her self-titled EP. Produced by Will Weatherly, it featured the fan favorite track “Ladylike,” co-written with Jimmy Robbins and GRAMMY, CMA and ACM Award winner Shane McAnally.
Previously, Cole released her acoustic EP, #NoFilter, exclusively at Spotify. Her single, “Drunk,” which she wrote with Catt Gravitt, Gerald O’Brien and Shirazi, is available at iTunes. The music video for “Drunk” hit No. 1 on the fan-voted Taste of Country’s “Top 10 Countdown” and debuted at No. 8 on CMT Pure’s “12-Pack Countdown.” The Shotgun Seat observed, “Cole achieves the perfect balance of being simultaneously strong and vulnerable, like an early Taylor Swift.”
Empowered by her desire to make music that inspires, Cole is taking it all in and thoroughly enjoying the journey. Her biggest joy besides creating music and getting to perform is making new friends along the journey.
“I really cherish this time because there is excitement around every turn and I will never take that for granted,” said Cole. I’m grateful that I get to wake up each morning and create.”