In the Grand Event Center
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, that willingness has already led to success, with the independent artist racking up more than 100 million Spotify streams, a massive social media presence with more than 8 million TikTok followers, and a touring footprint that sold over 40,000 tickets to his headlining shows in 2022 alone. 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 20 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.
“It's OK to do something nobody else has really done,” he says. “It might piss some people off, but at least I’m trying something different and cool.” He’s keeping it going in 2023, letting loose on the haters with tracks like “This Ain't Country” – and also planning to prove once and for all, he’s more than they think. A heavy hitting rap-rock kissoff to all those who dismiss Alan’s wild side, “This Ain't Country” will be followed by a series of tunes telling the real-life story behind his upcoming wedding, as the emerging star taps timeless country romance. “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!” 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.”