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Headliner Saturday Night

There’s a simple beauty to country music. It’s only three-chords-and-the-truth, after all, so greatness comes from authenticity. But for an artist like Cooper Alan, that can lead in some daring directions.

 

A rising star with the spirit of a true entertainer, a penchant for outside-the-box thinking and a growing, self-built audience, he’s an artist willing to take country where others have never dreamed – and fans love him for it. Whether it’s a deeply personal, step-by-step romantic saga, or an off-the-wall party anthem, Alan’s music is already some of country’s most fearless work, and he’s just getting started.

 

“An audience can tell when you're not being authentic to yourself,” the North Carolina native says. “So for me, I’ve gotta be willing to always go with my gut musically, wherever that takes me.”

 

A native of Winston-Salem, NC, the independent artist has racked up more than 225 million streams, a massive digital presence with more than 14 million followers across all social media platforms, and a touring footprint that sold over 85,000 tickets to date. It all stems from an ability to meet fans where they are – a creative renegade freely mixing musical styles, with boundless energy, sharp writing and often, a sense of humor. But don’t be mistaken, there’s nothing gimmicky about it.

 

Born in a family of music fans, Alan formed his first band in the 8th grade – and right from the start, he saw performing as an art. Equal parts showmanship and skill, his anything-goes approach pulled as much from Kenny Chesney and Kid Rock as AC/DC and Afroman, and while his deep, resonate vocal and love of country values pulled him toward the country format, his fans always led the way.

 

“I was always driven by the show – even more than the songs,” he admits. “I got into this whole thing playing in bars, and it was all about being an entertainer, just giving people a hell of a night.”

 

Alan took that mission to college, leading a popular party band while attending the University of North Carolina, but things changed after his 2018 graduation. Meeting songwriter Victoria Shaw – the hit maker behind John Michael Montgomery’s “I Love the Way You Love Me,” Garth Brooks’ “The River,” and more – his eyes suddenly opened to artistry. Shaw took the talented frontman under her wing, and taught him to put his songs on par with his show. It was something he had to do his own way.

 

“It changed my mindset towards music,” he admits. “You gotta write what’s true and authentic to you – even if it sounds crazy compared to everything else.”

 

To Alan, what was true and authentic included topical standouts like his clever 2019 breakout, “Climate Change,” and the tender “New Normal,” which came out in 2020 as the pandemic raged. The world had been forced indoors – and for those who were lucky, into the arms of true love, so Alan turned that silver lining into digital gold. With his vocal depth on full display, plus a clean snap-track and tender lyrics, it was a bold showcase of his ability to move fast and shoot straight, and it became his first viral hit.

 

“New Normal” pulled in 70,000 Spotify streams on its first day, with TikTok fans recording dance clips and digging into his back catalog. The sly “Colt 45 Country Remix” followed suit, reimagining the Afroman classic with countrified lyrics and a cheshire grin, and both tracks have now been streamed more than 25 million times on Spotify alone.

 

Meanwhile, Alan’s TikTok audience exploded, as the born entertainer has sought to create a two-way relationship with fans, both onstage and on social media. For him, it’s always been about taking this ride along with the people listening – creating music they can see themselves in and be proud to love. And now he’s pushing forward.

 

Forming Cooped Up Records with Shaw, his team now includes mangers Chris Kappy, Jarrod Holley and Walker Newberry, plus booking by the WME agency’s Morgan Kenney. And as his shows continue getting bigger (and wilder), the left-of-center hits keep coming.

 

Tunes like “First Rodeo” pack a pulsating EDM punch, while “Can’t Dance” finds the talent embracing his lack of moves with a grooving, genre-defying strut. Each time Alan knows he’ll get some flack, but he doesn’t care.

 

“I get a lot of comments saying, ‘Oh that's not country music,’” Alan admits. “And it's like, ‘Hey I love Merle Haggard! And like Merle, I’m doing my own thing, making music my own way. And the fans are responding, showing up night after night to sing every single word to my songs!”

 

After releasing Take Forever, a 5 song EP telling the real-life story behind his wedding in the Fall of 2023, Alan launched his Spring 2024 Tour, kicking off on February 1, hitting markets across the United States and making his debut in Australia. Recently named as a 2024 Pandora Ten Artist To Watch, Alan is hitting the ground running with single “Take Forever” quickly climbing the Sirius XM The Highway’s Hot 30 Weekend Countdown.

 

Call it whatever you want. It makes sense to him – and it’s clearly working for his fans. “My main driver is still the people listening,” he explains. “They built this whole thing up with me, so they deserve that power. I wanna make them smile and have fun. I wanna make them enjoy life a little bit more. And I also want them to see into what I'm thinking."

Cooper Alan
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Special Guest Saturday Night

He has always been one of a kind. Since the day his chart-topping major-label debut, “Lover, Lover,” announced him as a truly original voice, Jerrod Niemann has been that guy—a little edgier, a little cooler, maybe just a bit off-center in the best possible way. Ten years in, he is making some of the most compelling music of his career. As the world hits reset for a moment, Jerrod has done the same.

“A lot has changed in the last couple of years,” he says. “I went through a divorce, and I took the opportunity to re-evaluate everything, personally and professionally, through the lens of what I do best—music.” That meant hunkering down in his Red Room, the writing room/studio/Fortress of Solitude in his home where life becomes art, and where he could revisit the attitudes and techniques of the creative burst that led to his storied breakthrough record.

“When I made my first album, Judge Jerrod and the Hung Jury, my friend Dave and I recorded without much money or resources because we didn’t have much. But there was so much excitement. So this time, I went into my Red Room, which is a magical place—no matter what’s going on outside these four walls, it neutralizes all that and the creativity can flow. I never intended to play every instrument and sing every harmony, but as I tried one thing after another, it worked out that way. It was a learning experience, and I love learning, so it just felt right.”

The first fruits of that work are two songs that form the cornerstone of a growing project called Lost and Found. The first is “Ghost Rider,” a haunting song of loss with a feel that is contemporary yet pure Jerrod. The second is “Tequila Kisses,” an all-vocal extravaganza with orchestral richness and a vibrantly fresh sound.

“Taken together,” he says, “they’re about picking up the pieces and putting them back together in a new and better way, with a fresh coat of paint and a new sign out front. ‘Ghost Rider’ came as I thought about all the things you share with somebody over the years—memories, inside jokes, the things you build when you’re together. What a cool idea for a song, I thought, and as I started singing lines and melodies, it was almost like I’d heard it before. Then I sat down with the Warren Brothers and Lance Miller, and we made sure we took a complex idea and made it straightforward and mainstream.”

“Tequila Kisses” is a song he revisited and worked up a layer at a time, taking inspiration from heroes like the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson.

“That’s an older song I wrote with Lee Brice and Jon Stone,” he says. “Lee and I each thought about cutting it over the years, and finally I knew it was time for me to do it. I wondered if I could do an a cappella version. ‘Lover, Lover’ had all these vocal parts, and I hadn’t done a whole lot of that since. I did an organ part for pitch reference, and then I sang the lead and just kept adding to it as parts came into my head. There were 25 altogether, and I sang each one twice – so there are 50 parts! I did the shaker, the drums, the bass with my voice. I don’t know if I’d do it again!”

 

Together, they serve as the introduction to a powerful new chapter in his life and career – one that will continue to grow in the coming months.

“This is my heart and soul,” he says. “Every note is me. And I plan to add to them, releasing new songs as part of the project, which is the beauty of the digital age.”

Lost and Found turns a fresh page on a career that got its start in the writing rooms of Music Row. Jerrod’s songs have been recorded by Blake Shelton, John Anderson, Jamey Johnson, and Colbie Caillat, among many others, and he was invited to write three singles for Garth Brooks, including the chart-topping “Good Ride Cowboy,” at the time the highest-debuting country single since the inception of SoundScan.

Always willing to stretch country’s modern and elastic boundaries, he hit the ground running as an artist with a sound that stood out and a compelling visual presence. It didn’t hurt that he could count on the support of and synergy with friends like Randy Houser and Jamey Johnson, who both made cameos in the video for “Lover, Lover.” There followed a string of hits including “What Do You Want,” “One More Drinkin’ Song,” the chart-topping “Drink to That All Night,” and “A Little More Love” with his friend and sometimes touring partner Lee Brice.

He remains unabashedly forward-thinking in his approach to influences and production.

“Everybody is trying to be fresh,” he says. “There are ‘traditionalist’ fans who might push back, but the only reason I have the bravery to take these steps is because I know the music of country’s heroes and have deep reverence for them, and I know they were pushing the boundaries too. Willie and Waylon combined old and very new and yet they are regarded as the epitome of classic country. They were always about moving us forward. You’ve got to have a voice. It may as well be your own! I’m just making music that makes me feel something, and if you do that, people will feel it too.”

Lost and Found is music for a time when the world is ready to re-emerge.

“We’ve all been cooped up for a long time,” he says, “and everybody’d love to go on vacation. This is cabin fever music, something to let people escape for a bit, whether they’re venturing out yet or not.”

“I can’t wait to get back out on the road again,” he adds, “and that time will get here shortly. In the meantime, the way I connect with people is by turning life into music. I’m so glad to have this new work to share so we can renew that connection. It feels great.”

Jerrod Niemann
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