Soulful songstress Cooki Turner expresses both sides of her artistry on her new album 

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Cooki Turner’s 2013 album, Heart of Me, was born out of necessity.

That year, the Oklahoma City-born soul singer had been unemployed for nearly four years. She chased a music career from an early age, signed to a local label when she was 18 and found some work as a studio singer. Turner performed shows locally and beyond but sought confidence and, more than that, stability.

“Everything was like a grind and a hustle,” Turner said. “It was all like, ‘Whatever happens, happens.’”

Now in her 30s, a more self-assured artist greets fans. For Heart of Me, she recruited outside writers for nearly all her songs. On Moment 2 Moment, Vol. 2, her follow-up release due out Aug. 26, she felt much more comfortable being creative. She wrote from her heart and shared her ideas with her team of friends and collaborators.

Turner has found secure musical footing and is more driven than ever to tell fans who she is as a person.

“This one, I just took the reins a little bit more,” she said. “I’ve learned a little bit more, I’m a little more polished and I’m a lot more excited for what is to come.”

Split record

Before the Urban Roots restaurant and performance venue closed in Deep Deuce, local soul duo Adam & Kizzie, along with several area artists, released a live compilation, Sounds of Deep Deuce, recorded in the restaurant. Turner’s song “Take Me Away” is featured on the project.

The singer said Adam & Kizzie’s Adam Ledbetter was so impressed with her rendition that he encouraged her to release a live album of her own.

That idea became Moment 2 Moment, though the concept eventually evolved into a project that was half live and half studio material. Turner said both aspects of being a musician are equally important to her, and she wants that to come through on the album.

The songstress wants Moment 2 Moment’s theme to be about finding true happiness through life and art. It’s a balancing act, which is why she decided to include live and studio recordings in the project.

“Being in the studio is like perfecting the moment, which I can do forever,” she said. “Being onstage and being live is creating a moment, and it’s all about embracing the audience and the stage presence and everybody coming together and making this amazing family and this amazing unity.”

Sharing ideas

Turner still loves collaborating with local artists, something listeners hear a lot of on Moment 2 Moment. She wrote the album’s original songs with a team that included Thaddeus Johnson, Rachel Williams and Thonie Lee. Turner’s mother hosted the crew in her living room as they hashed out concepts and verses.

Lee wrote most of the second verse of the tune “Home.” Johnson wrote his verse for an updated version of “Ode to Music,” a song originally found on Heart of Me.

In “Visions,” Moment 2 Moment steps out of its gospel and soul comfort zone and explores hip-hop. Turner supplies the chorus, but the number really belongs to a team of rappers that includes Jabee, Willis and Adam L (Ledbetter’s rap moniker). Turner also appears on Jabee’s new album Black Future, set for an August release.

“Visions” approaches a theme similar to that found on Turner’s earlier single “Try.” People say they don’t want to give up on their dreams, she said, but there are always obstacles.

“For me to step back and really let hip-hop take force, it’s kind of different, but I love hip-hop,” Turner said. “Me and Jabee had an exchange where it was like, ‘OK, you be on my new record and I’ll be on your new record.’”

Dope Artistry

Moment 2 Moment’s release show is Aug. 26 at Bistro 46, 2501 NE 23rd St. In addition to a live show and a possible music video premiere, Turner said she would also like to include a discussion panel featuring the key album contributors. They would talk about how the album was made and take questions from fans.

Until then, Turner is promoting her Indiegogo page. She wants to raise $3,000 by Aug. 5 to help cover album and release show expenses. She is also using the funds to seed her Dope Artistry merchandise line.

Turner said her Dope Artistry movement celebrates and promotes local artists of all kinds. Being creative is not just about being a musician or a painter, she said. Makeup artists are creatives, too. As are architects.

“Whatever you do as a creative that brings art, if you strive to be the best that you can be, then you’re a dope artist,” she said. “For that reason, you present Dope Artistry.”

Turner said she’ll print shirts with the Dope Artistry message and offer designs with specific nods to music, photography and other creative ventures.

“Whatever your message is, whatever your vision is,” she said, “if you’re doing that with excellence and with standards, you’re going to succeed.”

Hear more of Turner’s music and learn more at cookiturner.bandcamp.com and facebook.com/misscookiturner. Learn more about her crowdfunding campaign by searching “Cooki Turner” on indiegogo.com.

Print headline: Fresh batch, Soulful songstress Cooki Turner returns with an album showcasing her equal talent live and in the studio.

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