Saturday, October 26th, marked the celebration of the release of Miss Cooki Turner’s new album, Heart of Me. Although the album had already released recently, Miss Cooki still took the opportunity to gather her friends, family and fans at Urban Roots in Oklahoma City’s historic Deep Deuce district in order render a heartfelt thank you to the city for their love and support. The quaint locale was quickly filled beyond capacity as many stood lining the walls and passageways – and they were the lucky ones. Quite a few didn’t make it inside the building at all – a testament to the immense following Miss Cooki has garnered over the years with her unmistakably rich signature sound, effortlessly commanding stage presence and warm, engaging personality. Those of us standing didn’t appear to mind one bit. It was Cooki’s night, and we were there to show our love and let her know what a blessing her gift is to the city and soon to the world.
Once the night got underway, Miss Cooki began by giving thanks, first to God, then to her numerous supporters. Gratitude was a recurring theme of hers throughout the gathering that surely indicates much more success to come, given such a rare combination of talent and humility. She implored the audience more than once to support local artists, even making available a wristband indicating our support, along with her album. I got mine. The wristband is dope. The album is dope-er. More about that later.
Miss Cooki began by treating us to an extra song that she told us didn’t make the album. That song, Crazy Love, written by Stacy Muse, was so skillfully rendered that I thought if it did not make the album, I can’t wait to hear the ones that did. The songstress then treated us to an eclectic mixture of original songs and covers that mesmerized everyone in the building. She implored the audience to get involved, but her encouragement was hardly necessary; we were hanging on every word, every note, every belt, every run as she took us to heaven on earth with her powerful vocals. Her background singers, including Thaddaeus Johnson and Annisia Anderson, did a marvelous job complementing Miss Cookie’s voice, never overdoing it but stepping up to shine as they were called upon.
One song from the album that Miss Cooki performed titled “Try” was written out of frustration, she told us, noting the sometimes grueling process of trying to complete an album and encountering obstacles, pitfalls and disappointments along the way. The up-tempo tune soared as we listened to the words, armed with the education she had just given us behind their meaning. Apparently she was swept up in “Try” as well, becoming emotional as she completed the song and began profusely thanking those who had been there for her, notably singling out John Mahoney as a man who does a bit of everything, as well as her beautiful mother, who was in attendance, for her untiring love and support. Miss Cooki transparently noted that she completed half of her album while unemployed, “resting on God and my Mama.”
Next up from the album was “Take Me Away”, which Cooki shared was about “wanting to be in love, but waiting to be ready to be in love.” Stacy Muse performed a beautiful spoken word rendition on the song, and Miss Cooki took us to church as she poured her heart and soul into her vocal offering.
Then, as we say, it got real, as if it wasn’t already real, and it was. Miss Cooki unstrapped her shoes and set them aside to perform a flawless cover of “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal that I’m certain nearly lifted the roof from the top of Urban Roots. She effortlessly cascaded into a crescendo that built to the point that I wanted to take off my shoes too. And throw them at her. Both of them. That’s how ridiculously good it was. Seal, if you’re reading this, you would be proud, and dare I say it, a little bit envious too.
The night was filled with more vocal and instrumental amazingness than should be legal, featuring a talented host of musicians including Adam Ledbetter on keys, Jason Gaddis on guitar, Brandon “Dot” Maddex on drums and Jemar Poteat on bass. Special thanks were given to J. Lee the Producer, Alton Eugene and Adam Ledbetter for their production efforts, Stacy Muse and Kizzie Ledbetter for their writing contributions, and a litany of others to whom Miss Cooki profusely expressed her gratitude. She also expressed her appreciation of the contributions of vocalist Willie Hill, for whom the very gifted Thaddaeus Johnson filled in more than admirably as Hill’s commitments required his absence from the night’s festivities.
Miss Cooki gave one more special thank you to her vocal coach, Philip Thomas. The she prepared for descent by flying into a rousing medley of covers that included Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics, Crazy by Gnarls Barkley and Rolling in the Deep by Adele, easily transitioning from one to the next, making us forget that such a feat would have been daunting to a lesser talent, to say the least, as she playfully did whatever she wanted to do, both lyrically and vocally.
Finally, she treated us to the performance of one final selection from the album, the bonus track “Prototype.”
Then she said goodnight, and left us all wanting more.
SUPPORT Miss Cooki by buying her album, Heart of Me, on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and wherever music is sold. Find it locally at Urban Roots.
Brian C. Scott