Isaac Cole: I Loved Music (Part 1)
Note: This is part one of a special two-part blog by Gretsch guest blogger and featured guitar artist Isaac Cole.
Ever since I was a little baby crawling around on my hands and knees “I LOVED MUSIC”. My Mom actually caught me once, sitting inside my sister’s big doll house singing “Oops!…I did It Again” by Britney Spears. (Of course I don’t remember that…and I’m glad.) Mom tells me stories of how I’d sit at her keyboard and try to play it while singing my Sunday school songs. I’ve just always loved music!
I have been told that when the family would be out and about in the family van, that I would sing every song that was being played on the radio. And since my Mom and Dad where big 90’s Country Music fans, that is what we would listen to most– except for the occasional time it was just Dad and I, then we would listen to 80’s Rock! During those van rides my family and I would sing those songs with dramatic interpretation, and occasionally a song would come on and I would proclaim “no one else sing, this is my song” and I would not allow anyone else to sing with me. One of those “my songs” was “The Long Black Train” by Josh Turner, so it was no surprise that I chose it for my first public performance in my hometown church when I was only 4 years old. I dressed for the part with my cowboy hat, boots, and vest. My parents still have a video of me walking every inch of the stage performing the song. I absolutely loved preforming!
At five years old I met an inspirational country music artist by the name of Tommy Brandt. He was doing a show at the church we now attend in Butler, PA. I was so fascinated with his music that it was all I wanted to sing! We became quick friends, and over the next five years he supplied me with backing tracks to any song of his that I wanted to sing. He became a mentor to me and continues to be to this day!
When I was in Kindergarten my teacher asked the class to draw a picture of what they want to be when they grow up, so I drew a “singin’ cowboy” as I called it! Soon after my parents got me my first guitar! At six years old I started guitar lessons, and it wasn’t easy. I can remember getting frustrated and sometimes not understanding why I didn’t understand something. Fortunately, with the help of my Mom (who took the lessons with me) I was able to start to progress in my playing.
I went to First Grade at the local public school, and I struggled with math and reading. I could read words fine, it was just reading longer sentences or paragraphs that gave me trouble. My eyes would jump from one sentence to another, and I would put words where they didn’t belong. In Math I would put numbers in the wrong places while doing addition/subtraction problems. After half a school year, and multiple visits to the school, my parents decided to pull me out and home school me. My father had discovered that his dyslexia was most likely the cause of most of his early educational issues, and suspected that I may have it too, so shortly after starting homeschooling my parents took me to a friend who was trained in diagnosing dyslexia. After a short visit and a series of tests, she determined that I did, in fact, have dyslexia and she helped my parents find resources and teaching methods to help with my education. During all of this, the one thing that always seemed to come naturally to me was music and I began to excel at playing “stringed instruments”.
Von McCommons, a close family friend of mine, has a family quartet that always opened their stage to me anytime I wanted to perform with them! That greatly helped me develop my performance abilities. Over the years I’ve been involved in a couple different bands. At ten years old my older sister Mikayla and I started singing hour-long shows together, and I started playing in a Christian Country band called “In Transition.” They taught me a lot about playing in a band. I learned how to sing harmony, play lead solos on guitar, and stay in sync with the rest of the band! At this time Tommy Brandt introduced me to the Inspirational Country Music Association (ICMA) in Nashville, TN. My family and I have attended their convention every year since then. I’ve met so many other people I look up to through this convention.
My first album was recorded in Nashville at eleven years old with Tommy Brandt as my producer. We co-wrote the title track of the album Country Boy. That was my first involvement in writing a song.
Then when I was twelve years old, my parents bought me my first banjo for Christmas, and after I learned a few chords and figured out how to do a simple roll, I started to play with our Cowboy Church band called “God’s Country.” At this point my good friend Von had become the worship leader of the church band, and that just so happens to be the same church where I had met Tommy years earlier. I also won my first ICM Award in 2012 for “Youth in Music”
At the age of thirteen I wanted to record songs that I have written but not being an experienced writer and being dyslexic, I struggled with completing song ideas so my parents helped me seek out the help of some more experienced writers I admired. I recorded a 5-song EP called Just a Kid. I co-wrote every song on the EP, and the title track “I’m Just a Kid” was written with my friend and God’s Country Band worship leader Von McCommons.
I’ve always been a big fan of older Country and Rock, and those genres have really impacted my style. I was at a music convention when I met my very good friend Mr. Richard Kiser who noticed my love of guitar and my love for the older styles of Country music, so he introduced me to the Chet Atkins style of guitar playing, and I loved it! Mr. Kiser also introduced me to the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society and Convention and that is where I got my first Gretsch guitar! It was a Center Block White Falcon and it had that sound that I had been craving…
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Isaac’s guest blog to find out about his teen years, awards, and his American Idol experience all leading him up to where he is today.
Visit Isaac’s artist feature for links to all his social media accounts!
Feature photo: Isaac with Joe Carducci, Gretsch Guitars Product Marketing Specialist.