Amanda Cook – February Artist Spotlight
Artist Spotlight – February 2022
Amanda Cook is from the small town of Jay, Florida, a town known for cotton and peanut production and has a population well under a thousand. She was born on April 13th. Amanda was a member of both Middle and High School bands and absolutely loved it. She is a graduate of Pace High School.
Amanda is unable to put an exact age on when she began singing but definitely remembers that no one, other than her grandma, knew she could sing until her mid-twenties. Around that time is when Amanda entered into a singing competition which absolutely terrified her husband. After the competition, Amanda remembers her dad asking, “why haven’t I known this before now”. From this point, Amanda started a band, started learning the mandolin, and writing songs. After a few years, Amanda’s choice of instrument changed drastically to the bass when the bands bass player quit and there were only a few days till the next gig. Amanda will honestly tell you that it was not the best but they made it through as a band. Now-a-days, you will catch Amanda singing and playing the rhythm guitar. Aaron Foster, aka ‘Frosty’, encouraged her to play what she loved and what made her most comfortable on stage. His advice made all the difference in the world to her.
The first big festival that the band played at was the Bluegrass on the Plains in Auburn, AL. It was such an unbelievable time and will always hold a special place in their hearts. Amanda personally was on cloud nine the entire weekend after sharing the stage with some of their favorites; The Earls of Leicester, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, Volume Five, and Doyle Lawson.
One of the most memorable moments for the Amanda Cook Band is when they played at the Milan Bluegrass Festival in Milan, MI. They kicked off their set with their song ‘Caleb Meyer’ and the crowd cheered and responded before I sang the first word. She never expected folks in Michigan to have heard a song from a girl from Florida. That was such an incredible moment! The success of that song is still humbling. The band was so thankful for radio supporting them and sharing it across the country. That was the moment that made them realize they were making an impact.
On the flip side of good memorable moments, you have those embarrassing moments. For Amanda, it was a moment at an early 2am Mountain Fever Records showcase (fully packed showcase) at IBMA, that the entire band will never forget. Amanda had been suffering from acid reflux all day and made the mistake of drinking sparkling water before going on stage. Standing elbow to elbow with Frosty, on my right, and Carolyne, on my left, Amanda suddenly burped. It was such a burp that it took my breath away. I turned away quickly from the crowd, straight at Frosty and bless him, he didn’t react in any way. After the show, Frosty said to me, “well, ok, I can now say that Amanda tried to barf on me”. It was definitely an embarrassing and a horrible moment but she is so thankful that the crowd never knew.
Prior to getting to those fun, possibly embarrassing, and exciting times on stage, the Artists have to travel miles, many miles to some. I asked Amanda what kind of apparel is common for her to travel in. She said she used to dress like she was going to town, jeans, dressier shirt, boots and makeup. That is definitely not the case now, she loves traveling in yoga pants, t-shirts (probably a Michelle Lee one) and most of the time wearing her Birkenstocks. She tries to sneak into the green room prior to anyone asking, “who is that ragamuffin”.
Have you ever wondered if the Artists have routines or rituals prior to going on stage? Well, I asked Amanda and she definitely does. Amanda explained that she does not eat a whole lot prior to going on, she pretty much fuels herself by Diet Coke. However, after the day is over and they are on their way back to the hotel or wherever, Amanda is the one you will see completely “pigging out”. Getting her belly full sets her up for a great night sleep.
If you were to ask Amanda who her most inspirational person is/was, she would hands down tell you that it is her dad. Her dad is the one that gave her the bluegrass bug years ago. When she started playing in a band with him, he really inspired her to learn and always keep learning. He shared his love of traditional bluegrass in the way that it grounded me and provided me with so much education. I can’t thank him enough for that. He is literally her biggest fan!
Her father gave her so much knowledge of the foundation of Bluegrass but Amanda has only been able to dream about speaking with a few past Artists/icons. She would love to sit down with the founders of the Foggy Mountain Boys, Lester Flatt (guitarist) and Earl Scruggs (banjo player) and the “Father of Bluegrass” himself, Bill Monroe. Amanda would love to hear all the stories about their travels. She would love to hear the stories of playing on top of the drive-in theaters, packing in the cars, places they stayed over at and etc. from actually themselves, not just from word of mouth over the years. Amanda would love to know if they knew the impact that they had on the music and how it would be carried on for so so long. That would be something – being in the presence of the founders of music!
Dolly Parton is that person that Amanda has viewed as an inspiration and role model in a sense. Dolly is such a professional business person with a huge heart. Amanda admires Dolly Parton for her story, what she has done with songwriting and music throughout her career. If Amanda could sit down and have a one-on-one with Dolly, she would soak up every minute and everything Dolly Parton would have to say! Amanda stated, “What an incredible talent!! She is such a smart business woman yet she is still so humble and kind. She’s inspired me in my writing and for sure in my vocals”.
Over the years, Amanda has learned to how to take criticism, especially on social media. It was truly hard in the beginning of her career, but has learned that not everyone is going to love what you do. You must always keep in mind; the positives always outweigh the negatives. Some things just need to be taken with a grain of salt. Along with learning this herself, she hopes new artist will keep this in mind. She would tell new Artists to “BE YOURSELF”, the music business is hard, and folks will criticize but the happiness comes from the music and the folks you surround yourself with!
Fast Firing Fun Facts:
Have you ever performed outside of the USA?
Yes, toured in Australia in early 2019. It was such an incredible experience.
Do you have a favorite venue/event that you like to perform at?
Of ALL the wonderful places we play, her hometown show that she does once a year at Barrineau Park Community Center is by far her favorite. Those folks supported them from the beginning and has cheered them on with everything they accomplish. It’s honestly like a family reunion every year they go back to play.
What is your favorite holiday and why?
Thanksgiving, it’s a time for reflection and thankfulness for their year. It’s low stress with no gifts to buy or crazy running around needed. It’s a peaceful day of eating and being with the ones you love. We do two celebrations for the holiday. We do a FRIENDSGIVING with the band and close friends and then our family Thanksgiving.
If you were not part of the music scene, what would you be doing?
She would probably still be banking. Amanda was a bank manager for years and she really liked it but it was just a job, not her passion.
Do you have a hobby outside of music?
Cooking is a love, especially trying new recipes. She loves cooking for her family and band, it’s her way to show how much she loves them.
What is your favorite super hero?
Amanda is not really into the super hero thing but she REALLY loves dinosaurs. Her favorite is the Velociraptor.
What is your favorite kind of ice cream?
Banana Pudding by Blue Bell (hard to find, especially in Virginia).
- What is your favorite snack food for the road?
- Do you have any pet(s) and what are their names?
Amanda has a big old baby Yellow Lab (only 115lb) named Cooper. Her and her husband also have a “mean” cat named Banjo.
- What is your favorite sport and team?
Football all the way in Amanda’s house – huge New Orleans Saints fans!
- What is your favorite movie line?
“Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion” – Truvy (Dolly Parton) from Steel Magnolia. Amanda absolutely loves this movie, one of her favorites. In Amanda’s words, “This line describes this movie perfectly…. that is EXACTLY what I do every time I watch it”.
Upcoming news from artist:
Feb 4th, 2022, the band released a new single – “Another Highway This Time”
Record Company – Mountain Fever Records
Title of Album – “Changes”
Writer(s) – multiple writers but the single was written by Thomm Jutz and Mark Fain
Website for artist, tour dates and/or merchandise:
Check out the artist/band website for all their new songs, tour dates and merchandise. The best way to support our local broadcasters and artists are through their sales – CDs, albums, shirts and etc. Let’s show our support – go check their website.