When it comes to being a struggling musician in Nashville, rising star Courtney Cole is all too familiar. In fact, the singer-songwriter is so familiar with it that her latest single “Free.99” was inspired by just how expensive life can be. “We were writing another song at the time and the term ‘free.99’ came up, and we were just talking about being musicians in Nashville and not making a lot of money and having to go out and support all of our friends at shows…it gets expensive! We need to find ways to go out on a budget, and that’s kind of what ‘Free.99’ is, just going out and not having to spend a lot of money.”
While “Free.99” may be a fun ode to inexpensive fun, Cole’s favorite song she’s ever written, “Fall Like Rain,” sings a noticeably different tune. “It’s just really emotional, and it’s a song that really came at a hard time of my life of breaking up with this guy, and it takes me back to that, and helps me remember how strong I actually am now, and it’s really special.”
On the strength of songs like “Fall Like Rain,” Cole has opened for some of music’s biggest names, including Kip Moore, who she says is “the first person to ever take me out on tour. He brought me out several years ago, just me and my guitar, and that helped me catch the bug of just loving to travel and perform. I’m really thankful for his friendship and support.”
Another opportunity she’s extremely thankful for? Touring with Miranda Lambert and a slew of other females on the Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars Tour. She says that experience was eye opening, as she’s always been inspired by Lambert and other strong women. “I’m just really big on female empowerment and I love strong women, my influences were Shania and Miranda, the Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill, Martina…all these strong women,” Cole recalls. “I remember listening to the Revolution record and being like “Oh my gosh, this is changing my life” and just thinking about how strong she is and how I want to be that. So to go out on tour with her and see her being the boss in action was huge. It was like the best education.”
As one of CMT’s Next Women of Country, Cole is a champion for the other new women in the genre. “I love every single one of them. I love Kelsea [Ballerini], I love Maren [Morris], I love Cam. I’m really excited about some of these new ones that I’m watching grow here in Nashville too. There are so many, and I’m excited to just be a part of the small movement.”
In addition to that honor from CMT, she is also an ambassador for their Empowering Education Initiative, which goes out to rural communities and promotes education. Through that program, Cole and CMT meet with those who are unable or uninterested in furthering their education, and then helps them do so.
As she heads into 2017, Courtney Cole has no plans of slowing down with plans to release a new EP early this year. She’ll also hit the road and admits she’s particularly pumped for her first appearance at the Stagecoach Music Festival.
As for other goals, she’d love to write with Natalie Hemby or Lori McKenna and she lists Shania Twain as her ultimate duet partner. “I’d also love to do something with Meghan Trainor or Adele. That would be a dream.”
As for other goals for the future, Courtney Cole is aiming high, and rightfully so. “I’m a big believer of putting thing out there and they’ll come to you,” she admits. “I have a Grammy as the wallpaper of my phone. I’d absolutely love to win a Grammy.”