Courtney Cole’s new EP “Earthquake,” which consists of four autobiographical tracks, accentuates finding freedom from within. The artist’s previous releases received praise from Rolling Stone and Huffington Post, enabling her to tour with Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesney and Kane Brown, to mention a few.
When she performed on Miranda Lambert’s Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars Tour in 2015, Cole released her self-titled EP. It garnered more than 2 million streams, which also included her fan-requested single “Ladylike” that was co-written with Grammys, CMA and ACM-award winning songwriter Shane McAnally.
Cole grew up in a suburb of New Orleans, meaning that she was around music and creativity all the time. She started performing at 5 years old when her parents mader her sing Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” on stage with her dad for the church talent show.
“Ever since that moment, I was hooked to the stage! I studied music and theatre at a performing arts high school in the city named, NOCCA,” she said. “When I was 18, I moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University. When I graduated, I started working in the music industry answering phones at a record label.”
Cole does not stick with a certain formula when she writes songs. She said that it’s a different process every time.
“Sometimes it can look like an entire poem that I will eventually turn into a song. Other times, I will have a full melody of a song and the lyrics come later. Whenever inspiration hits, I try to jump on it!”
The idea for “Earthquake” started back in 2018 when she wrote the first song on the EP “Spiritual.” She mentioned that “Spiritual” was a reset button, not only in her music, but in her life.
“My goal was to strip everything down, just like my life had been after dealing with some tough experiences, and to also build a new sound. This is why that song is so bare,” she revealed. “Then, ‘Right Direction’ adds a little more production, then ‘New Eyes’ and then ‘Earthquake’ is almost like a release of a new sound, which will only continue to grow and evolve.
The artist wants listeners to feel normal after hearing “Earthquake” for the first time and to let them know that everyone is going through tough times.
“I want this EP to inspire them despite their pain. I really believe that within perceived failure that there is so much power,” Cole said. “The goal of the EP is to share my healing journey with the world in hopes that it might help heal them too. It’s all about finding joy in the midst of pain and uncertainty and finding yourself in the process.”
The most important words in “Earthquake” are “I feel something shifting somewhere deep within me, and it’s shaking me awake.” Cole said that these lyrics encompass the whole EP because the healing journey that she has been through has really opened her eyes to so many aspects of her identity and reality.
“I believe this EP is so relevant right now to all that’s happening in the world,” she said. “There is no better time than now for all of us to take a deep look at ourselves and to ask ourselves why we believe in things.”
“When it comes to racism, religion, self-belief systems, it’s important to ask, ‘Do we believe what we do because we’ve been told to believe those things? Do we really know who we are at the core, or do we have to build a character of sorts to win the approval of others?’” Cole expressed. “I think when we become self-aware, and when we realize that we are more than what the world is telling us we should be, we find healing, and we find love and acceptance for everyone.”
The four tracks in the EP have a self-reflective theme — to become self-aware and to find freedom from within. One of the biggest messages that Cole wants to relay is that everyone is in their own healing process, and that process doesn’t have to be rushed.
“If you look at a seed of a flower, that seed already holds all of the potential of that flower being a flower. When given the right environment and care, it evolves naturally,” she expressed. “We are exactly the same and we are all a part of this natural process. So wherever you are in your pain, in your healing, or in any part of your journey, I think it’s important to move through it naturally. Follow the peace and the effortlessness, and not the resistance.”
In five years, Cole sees herself touring consistently, signed to a deal, and releasing a full album. She will never forget the gig she performed at the Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars Tour with Miranda Lambert in 2015. “She’s a hero of mine, so it was truly such an honor,” she said.
Cole finished with advice to aspiring singers: “Always have a mission and follow that mission at all costs. Don’t follow a deal, a manager or someone telling you they can make you famous. If it doesn’t align with your mission, don’t let it change who you are and what you represent.”
Contact Ron Rocky Coloma at rcoloma ‘at’ stanford.edu.