With a voice like an angel and outfits that would impress the devil, Cooper has performed with legends like Wanda Jackson, Mavis Staples and Robert Plant. We spoke to her in our latest zine. Words by Angela Barnett
September 2nd 2015
With a voice like an angel and outfits that would impress the devil, Cooper has performed with legends like Wanda Jackson, Mavis Staples and Robert Plant. The soul singer from Nashville has been called ‘delightful, twinkly, impassioned, and on the make’. She’s dynamite. Angela Barnett asks the questions.
Who inspired you musically?
My list of influences are way too long, but the two biggest role models in my musical career have been Madonna and Dolly Parton.
Where did you get that voice from?
My mother has a lovely voice, but she is very shy, so we don’t hear it much. My great-grandfather was a band leader and multi-instrumentalist. He rocked out on a steel guitar and people would come from all over the county to hear him play. He was a Ranger for the Forest Service, I like to think of him as a sort of rock ‘n’ roll cowboy.
Your hair has been described as ‘a
magma flow’ – how did you feel
about that when growing up?
I used to bleach my hair white and flat iron it, it would break and frizz out, I basically tortured it and it made me look like Beetle Juice. I was young and wanted to look like Barbie. That was dumb.
The stereotype for red-head females is fiery, stroppy, and highly
Stroppy! That is a great word, we don’t use that much in the States. I think all women are fiery. Some of us hide it better than others. I use everything to my advantage. People are going to label you, judge you, make up stories in their heads about you, no matter what colour hair you have.
Was opening for Robert Plant your
biggest musical moment?
That was pretty rad. But I think my biggest musical moment was the day my record arrived at the local record shops. I cannot even describe the sense of enormous accomplishment and pride that comes from that.
Which Led Zep song did you sing?
‘What is and what should never be’. I was so terrified, I started the song in the wrong key, (it has an acapella intro) but quickly adjusted and had so much fun rocking out with that gigantic crowd. Robert Plant is a Rock God and I am so grateful that he took the time to make me feel special.
How competitive is the music world
There are a lot of singers and musicians from all over the world trying to make it in Nashville. It’s important to stand out, to be different, and all those cliché things, but most of all, you have to work your ass off. I think I did well because I am tenacious.
I want it harder than anyone I know, and sometimes that can be even more important than talent.
What are you most proud of?
I am super proud of myself for pushing through all the bullshit that comes with being an artist. Sometimes, I just want to hide under the covers, avoid the rejection, and the hard work, or go get a job with security and structure and a reasonable paycheck. Then, I get out of bed and remember that life is short. Too short not to do what you love, even if it means you have to fight for it.
Photographed by Matt Adamik.