From College Student to Star Drummer: Kelsey Cook’s Story
by Jordan Loomis | Washburn University
Successfully transitioning from college graduate to burgeoning artist in today’s society is no easy feat, but for Washburn University graduate and current New Orleans resident Kelsey Cook, the road has involved plenty of breaks and opportunities.
Throughout her childhood and adolescence, Kelsey was a rare breed. By the time her love of drumming was just picking up steam, Kelsey was one of the only percussionists at her high school, Blue Springs High School in Missouri.
“I know that I am one of the only percussionists to actually have gotten a degree because people lose their passion as time passes,” Cook said.
Cook, who first picked up the drums in fifth grade, credits her passion back to her mother.
“My mom would always take me to country rock shows and somehow, since she knew somebody from the bands almost every time, I got drumsticks from the drummers and they would sign the sticks for me,” Cook said.
It was back then that Kelsey’s fascination with drumming took root and it slowly transformed into a lifelong passion.
“I just liked watching them, the hair flipping was amusing to me,” she said. “It was who I wanted to be then and who I definitely want to be now.”
Now, only a few months after graduation, Cook’s music is flourishing faster than she ever imagined it would. “I’m playing with the band, ‘The Depth and the Whisper,’ and in December we’re going to New York City,” said Cook.
Cook was granted these opportunities due to her attendance after graduation at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, California. “It was a summer program that recruited young artists for networking purposes and experience,” said Cook. “It was a truly interesting experience. Meeting people from different cities, states, at the actual institute brought together all aspects of life in a musical sense, which basically made it such a fun experience and connected me to a lot of people in a way I never expected.”
It was at the institute that Cook met Go-Go Ray, currently known as the best drummer in Kansas City, Missouri. As someone who has personally seen Cook play, Go-Go Ray got Cook into the two projects she originally started with: playing with “The Depth and the Whisper” and playing with Katy Guillen.
“Go-Go Ray gave me those gigs because he was originally in them himself,” said Cook, “he was the drummer, so I would fill in for him on the days he couldn’t make it. Personally, it’s an honor to have had him call me first. He basically threw me headfirst into the mix and told me, “Do your best” so I did.”
Ray told Cook that her summer had exploded and as an artist, Cook couldn’t have agreed more. “I started going to jam nights after the institute,” said Cook. “The musical chemistry just has to connect, (and) jamming with other artists really proves that.”
Cook’s next big milestone in the music industry is coming up this December as she travels to New York City with ‘The Depth and the Whisper.’ “The other members of the band have some connections and have a place where we can stay,” said Cook, “so, we’ll be going to a collection of venues on a mini-tour to try and connect with Sirius XM Radio starting December 8 and going until December 15.”
This opportunity is one Cook never imagined she’d be graced with. “Everyday since the Music Institute I’ve been doing things I’ve never done before,” said Cook. “I’ll be traveling and networking and carrying my endorsement cymbals.”
The foundation to being a successful graduate, in Cook’s own words, is to surround yourself with good people; the music industry is no different. “Living in New Orleans, the birthplace of Jazz, has become the backbone to making me the artist I hope I will one day grow to be and soon, New York will be the perfect place to start,” said Cook.
“My education came first,” said Cook, “but with connections and hard work, things really start rolling for you as long as you believe being successful is possible – dream big, stay humble and keep learning, success is one step at a time.”
Check her out on Facebook.Jordan Loomis is a sophomore, double majoring in mass media and art at Washburn University.