Elizabeth Cook (born July 17, 1972 in Wildwood, Florida) is an American country music singer. She made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry on March 17, 2000. Cook, "the daughter of a hillbilly singer married to a moonshiner who played his upright bass while in a prison band," was "virtually unknown to the pop masses" before she made a debut appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman in June 2012.The New York Times called her "a sharp and surprising country singer" and an "idiosyncratic traditionalist."
The youngest of 11, Cook was born in Wildwood, Florida. Her mother Joyce played mandolin and guitar and performed on radio and local television in her younger years. Her father Thomas also played string instruments. He honed his skills playing upright bass in the prison band while serving time for running moonshine. Also while serving time at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary for the crime, he learned the welding trade to which Elizabeth paid tribute in the title of her 2010 album. After her father was released, he and Joyce began playing in local country bands together. Elizabeth was on stage with them at age four, singing such inappropriate songs as 'I'm Having Daydreams About Night Things'. At the age of nine, she had her own band. Cook graduated from Georgia Southern University in 1996 with dual degrees in Accounting and Computer Information Systems.
Cook had moved to Nashville to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers. After being informed by a friend of a publishing company who were looking for a traditional female country singer to cover material from their back-catalogue, Cook attended an interview during her lunch break and was offered a publishing deal on the spot, quit her job and ended up moving into the publishing house, leading to the independent release of The Blue Album in 2000 using the demo recordings. She made her major label debut for Atlantic Records. During this time, Cook became a regular guest artist on the Grand Ole Opry due to the label's insistence that she produce a hit single before she could begin touring, meaning she had a lot of free time in Nashville. Her only album for Atlantic, Hey Y'All, was released in 2002 but, following a corporate re-structuring, the album was virtually abandoned and stagnant on sales. The label subsequently expected Cook to begin writing and performing country pop material that had become popular due to artists such as Faith Hill and Shania Twain. Cook attended several co-writing appointments set up by the label, but concluded that she could not sing the way they wanted her to and asked to be released from her contract under the assumption that she already had a deal with Sony Records that subsequently fell through.
After getting a job as a waitress and used her salary and the remaining money of her demo budget to release 2004's This Side Of The Moon, which was eventually picked up by Thirty Tigers and received positive reviews from The New York Times and No Depression. Her album Balls was released May 2007. It has been her most successful album to date, thanks to glowing press reviews and significant video play for the song "Sometimes It Takes Balls To Be A Woman." Her 2010 album Welder features appearances by an all-star roster of guests including Dwight Yoakam, Crowell and Buddy Miller. Two songs on the album featured in an NPR report at the time of its release were "El Camino" and "Heroin Addict Sister."
Through it all, Elizabeth maintained a full touring schedule, playing in America, as well as South Korea, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Poland France and the UK, the last of these including appearances at the Cambridge Folk Festival, the Maverick Festival and the Borderline in London. She has continued appearing on stage at the Grand Ole Opry and has, do date, appeared over 400 times, the most performances by any non-member.
She toured the UK in support of her Welder LP performing 18 dates with her husband Tim Carroll and her upright bass player Bones Hillman, formerly of Midnight Oil, who had relocated to Nashville, Tennessee after hearing nothing out of Midnight Oil for a year.
At the suggestion of Paul Shaffer, Cook was invited as a guest on Late Show with David Letterman in August 2011, where she discussed satellite radio and growing up in Florida. Her appearance prompted numerous offers from labels and organizations asking her to host various events and was even signed to star in a CBS sitcom about a single mother whose life is disrupted by the arrival of her criminal father which never came to fruition. In June 2012, Cook returned to the Late Show to perform with Jason Isbell. American Songwriter notes that they sang covers of Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho and Lefty" and "Tecumseh Valley." On March 14, 2013, she appeared a third time on the Late Show with David Letterman, this time having a sit-down interview with Dave before performing "If I Had My Way," written by blues/gospel singer Blind Willie Johnson. She worked extensively with Carlene Carter on her tenth studio album Carter Girl, where she provided backing and harmony vocals on five on the album's twelve tracks. On June 2, 2014, she appeared a fourth time on Late Show with David Letterman, performing "Pale Blue Eyes," written by Lou Reed.
In 2016, Cook released her sixth studio album Exodus of Venus.
In 2017, she appeared on the Walking The Floor podcast hosted by Chris Shiflett. During the interview, Cook spoke about her childhood, getting and subsequently losing her major record deal after they wanted her to made Faith Hill/Shania Twain type music, her experiences in rehab and making Exodus of Venus. At the end of the podcast, she revealed that she is currently writing and recording material for her seventh album which will be released in fall 2018.
Cook hosts the morning radio show "Elizabeth Cook's Apron Strings" on the Sirius XM radio station Outlaw Country on Channel 60. The show airs weekdays from 6:00 AM until 10:00 AM (Eastern Time). The show format is a mix of Americana, Outlaw, and Alt Country. While on tour, Cook takes mobile equipment with her to enable her to broadcast the show from wherever she is, having presented episodes of Apron Strings from Australia, Japan and the UK. As a radio presenter, Cook has been nominated for 2 Ameripolitan Music Awards.
Following the release of Welder in 2010, a series of personal tragedies meant that Cook did not produce another studio album until 2016 including a divorce from her husband Tim Carroll, the destruction of her family farm by a fire, and the deaths of her father, brother, mother-in-law and brother-in-law which resulted in her friends and manager forcing her to cancel an upcoming tour to go to rehab for drug addiction and an eating disorder.
On being sent to rehab, Cook said "I needed some help. I did not feel like rehab was what I needed and I tried to desperately convince some key people around me that in that moment I needed intensive therapy and I probably needed medication. They cancelled the tour and said you can't go because we don't trust the state that you're in. You're saying you're not addicted to anything and you're saying you don't have an eating disorder but we don't know that". Cook tried to convince her management that, if she were a drug addict, she would tell them directly which drugs she was taking, saying "I wasn't doing any of that. I wasn't addicted to anything. I knew I didn't have an eating disorder. I was just skinny from being stressed out but people in positions of power in my life didn't believe me". She was critical of the treatment she received and checked herself out early, explaining that "they weighed you in the dark, you can have two packs of sugar a day, they regimented my calories but my body went of a severe calorie uptake. I was starving all the time and I begged for protein shakes in between meals but they wouldn't have them and I was losing more weight".
Balls was produced by Rodney Crowell, and nine of the album's 11 tracks were written or co-written by Cook, including the single "Sometimes It Takes Balls To Be A Woman", co-written with Melinda Schneider. Her next album, Welder, released May 11, 2010, was produced by Don Was followed by CCM EP Gospel Plow. She did not release another album until 2016's Exodus of Venus.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart
|US Country||US Heat|
|The Blue Album||
|This Side of the Moon||
|Exodus of Venus||
|"--" denotes releases that did not chart|
|2002||"Stupid Things"||Hey, Y'all|
|2004||"Before I Go That Far"||This Side of the Moon|
|"Heather Are You with Me Tonight"|
|2007||"Sometimes It Takes Balls to Be a Woman"||Balls|
|2010||"All The Time"||Welder|
|2012||"Leather & Lace" (with Aaron Watson)||Hearts Across Texas|
|2002||"Stupid Things"||Chris Rogers|
|2005||"Before I Go That Far"|
|2007||"Sometimes It Takes Balls to Be a Woman"||Roger Pistole|
|2008||"Sunday Morning"||George Nicholas|
|2010||"All the Time"||Kristin Barlowe|
|2007||"The Great Atomic Power" (with The Grascals)||Various||Song of America||Compilation album|
|2012||"Leather and Lace" (with Aaron Watson)||Various||Hearts Across Texas||Compilation album|
|2013||"Feels So Right" (with Todd Snider)||Various||High Cotton: A Tribute to Alabama||Compilation album|
|2014||"Blackie's Gunman"||Carlene Carter||Carter Girl||Also backing vocals on tracks 1, 5, 6 and 10|
|2015||"I Had Someone Else Before I Had You"||Asleep at the Wheel||Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys|
|2016||"From Here to the Blues"||Doug Seegers||Walking on the Edge of the World|
|2016||"If Teardrops Were Pennies"||Buddy Miller||Cayamo Sessions at Sea||Live album|
|2007||Americana Music Awards||Song of the Year||Sometimes, It Takes Balls to Be a Woman||Nominated|
|2011||Americana Music Awards||Album of the Year||Welder||Nominated|
|2011||Americana Music Awards||Song of the Year||El Camino||Nominated|
|2011||Americana Music Awards||Artist of the Year||Elizabeth Cook||Nominated|
|2014||Ameripolitan Music Awards||Outlaw Female||Elizabeth Cook||Won|
|2015||Ameripolitan Music Awards||DJ||Elizabeth Cook - Sirius XM Outlaw||Nominated|
|2016||Ameripolitan Music Awards||DJ||Elizabeth Cook - Sirius XM Outlaw||Nominated|