“I want to find and write songs that I care about so I can tell a meaningful story. Each of my albums represents different points in time of my life, with special memories and dreams attached to them, and I love taking people on the journey with me, from the moment I wrote or first heard the song through the recording, mixing and mastering process. There’s a whole different dynamic happening because I’m putting my heart, and my art, on display in the hopes people are going to love it. I’m anxious and excited at the same time to hear what everyone thinks.”
Yes I Can
On the empowering, anthem-styled title track to her latest album Yes I Can, Corinne Cook sings about four American icons whose triumphs deeply impacted the way our culture viewed women - Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart and Sally Ride. The chorus resounds like a personal mission statement: “I’m that kind of girl. . .To those who say no you can’t, I say yes I can.”
The emerging indie country artist connects profoundly with the song because she, too, is an extraordinary woman who has broken through the limitations and expectations of what someone of her gender can do. On her way to pursuing her career and breaking through as a Nashville based singer, songwriter and performer, she served the Air Force during the Gulf War, raised two daughters and a son as a single mom, waitressed and worked graveyard shifts, even DJ’d for a country radio station.
While still engaging in a whirlwind balancing act both personally and professionally, Corinne has also enjoyed a handful of accolades for her previous albums. “I Don’t” from her critically acclaimed 2015 release Dressed Up For Goodbye won a Nashville Industry Music Award (NIMA) for Song of the Year in 2016. Songs from the album, including “Dressed Up For Goodbye,” “Little Miss Understanding” and “Dirty Little Secret,” sold on iTunes and streamed on Spotify, Pandora and numerous overseas radio outlets, earning her fans everywhere from Australia to the UK. Her debut album I’m Not Shy included two tracks that reached the Top 5 on the Inside Country chart – the #1 hit “Uninvited Guest” and the title track, which reached #4.
While Corinne proudly called Dressed Up For Goodbye a “personal expression” whose songs “all reflected different parts of my life,” Yes I Can marks an important breakthrough for her as a songwriter of great storytelling skill and depth. She co-wrote two of the eight tracks with the project’s producer and engineer Denny Martin and Bart Ambrose - the harmonica-tinged, blues-rock driven “Last Thing To Go” and “Mr. Mechanic,” a clever, whimsical metaphor driven romp about her husband. Corinne put her own edgy stamp on “Last Thing to Go” after Martin and Ambrose had started out the narrative from another point of view. Her insights helped turned it into a “Before He Cheats”-styled revenge romp in which she texts the new girlfriend, throws the guy’s stuff out of the house and burns it up.
Corinne also vibes meaningfully with the material penned by outside songwriters for a variety of personal reasons. Debbie Pascarella and Dani Jamerson contribute “One Box of Tissues,” a spirited post breakup “to-do” list, and the heart wrenching song, “Trying Not To Die,” about finding the strength to survive the terrible loss of a relationship. The singer related to those despairing feelings after the recent passing of her mother. The mid-tempo country rocker “Devil’s Heaven” – written by Martin, Julie Burton and the late Alan O’Day – is about the checkered lives of those who work in strip clubs, but Corinne perfectly understands the work ethic of a woman willing to do anything to put food on the table for her kids.
As a military veteran and American, Corinne also finds emotional resonance in the collection’s final two songs. The poignant “Seven White Stars,” written by Bart Ambrose, is a saga of a military widow who just lost a son in combat and the power ballad “Those Few Dreams,” written by Bradley Nogart, is an anthem where she finds hope and fresh dreams for America despite these troubled times and a loss of innocence.
“I like to call my albums emotional rollercoasters, snapshots of life and how I feel about different things, with variety from track to track,” Corinne says. “With every song, I want people to feel what it represents. With ‘Last Thing to Go,’ I want you to identify with the character and feel her anger. With ‘Trying Not to Die,’ I hope listeners can feel that deep emotion and sadness. When I sing about my husband, aka ‘Mr. Mechanic,’ I want you to tap your toes to the fun, upbeat music and smile at the quirky lyrics. I love the fact that I’m basically telling eight unique stories that all convey different feelings.”
The California native has been accumulating and telling stories all her life, all grounded in her years growing up in an intensely musical family in the Central California towns of Tracy and Escalon. She has fond memories of family jam sessions with her mom on guitar, step dad on bass and brother beating on the chairs (drums) while she sang. Overcoming her initial shyness about performing, she participated in choir from middle school through high school and was selected to sing several solos in high school performances. She later incorporated singing into her sting in the Air Force, which she joined after graduation at 17.
Corinne was in technical school for her job as a medical lab technician when the Gulf War began. During technical school at Keesler AFB in Mississippi, she was involved with a group of musicians and actors who performed “dinner shows” for other military members and their families. After technical school, she was stationed at Travis AFB during the time of the Gulf War. She returned home to Tracy after her military service, and a few years later, she won a singing competition at a bar in Riverbank, CA. The prize was supposed to be a pro recording contract, but instead the host of the contest, Leon Womack, became her manager. He funded a trip to Nashville to record songs that ultimately led to her first album.
Reconnecting with her passion for singing and performing, Corinne began singing at festivals in Northern California and worked part time as a radio DJ for the classic country station 93.9 “The Ranch” in Ripon, CA. As her radio persona “Ranch-Hand Jane,” she hosted karaoke for the station at various venues and presented legendary country artists like Charlie Daniels and Johnny Lee when they performed in town. Fully committing to the dreams that are now coming to fruition, Corinne moved to Nashville, to focus on developing her career as a singer. She performed at more festivals and enjoyed radio play for her I’m Not Shy album.
Corinne began working on her previous album, Dressed Up For Goodbye, several years ago while also developing her songwriting chops and performing in community theatre plays in Mt. Juliet. She began performing at songwriters’ nights in the Nashville area, gigging at such places as The Commodore and the Millennium Maxwell House. During this period, the singer also went back and finally finished her Bachelor’s Degree.
“Whether I’m one of the songwriters or not, that’s a lot of life experience to draw from, and for me everything is driven by the opportunity to relay a message and convey the emotion behind it,” Corinne says. “I want to find and write songs that I care about so I can tell a meaningful story. Each of my albums represents different points in time of my life, with special memories and dreams attached to them, and I love taking people on the journey with me, from the moment I wrote or first heard the song through the recording, mixing and mastering process. Now with these two co-writes, there’s a whole different dynamic happening because I’m putting my heart, and my art, on display in the hopes people are going to love it. I’m anxious and excited at the same time to hear what everyone thinks.”