Springfield, Mo. singer rejects pressure to sexualize performances

Nicole Starr AKA Cole leaves label to strike out on her own.
Published: Dec. 31, 2020 at 9:51 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 1, 2021 at 8:12 AM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The music business can look like a dream world. For too many women though, it’s a bit of a nightmare. University of Southern California researchers surveyed women in the music business. They found nearly a quarter felt undesired attention and even unsafe at work. This story is about a Springfield, Mo woman who didn’t let the business change her moral compass.

She’s the Springfield singer who once landed on stage with pop stars, The Chainsmokers.

Then, she grabbed the dream of a record deal.

“They all know somebody who knows somebody else,” sings Cole in the song “Don’t Forget Me.”

Cole is a Kickapoo grad. Her spin with the record label out of Atlanta troubled her soul. She says she felt forgotten and pressured to do things she just couldn’t do.

“I just felt constantly pressured all the time to be provocative and be like, be sexy,” recalled Cole. “It’s about music. I’m a musician. I’m not a model. So, I don’t need to wear clothing that’s super revealing because that’s not me... I don’t know if I’ll ever sign to a label again.”

“My career? (one key on piano). It started right here,” says former Missouri State University professor and former School of Rock owner Dr. Jennifer Jester. Dr. Jester now works at Millersville University. She used her singing, the work on piano and brass to work jobs around the states and even to China.

To Jennifer, Cole’s story is no surprise. And, it’s also not a surprise that women are standing their ground too.

“I think it’s time for a change. But, it’s gonna require artists to be true to themselves. Unfortunately, he who pays the bills makes the rules. So, if you want to sign with a record label you have to know that could be part of it,” warns Dr. Jester.

Cole’s experience triggered 10 new songs.

“It’s so cool to see all of those emotions wrap into one. It feels like a very nice resolution to me,” says Cole’s husband Zachary Lemmon.

Instead of pure anger, Cole penned a wistful plea; “Don’t Forget Me.”

“Don’t forget about me cause I’m gonna be successful without you guys no matter what...,” vows Cole.

We reached out to Cole’s old record label for comment. So far, they haven’t responded.

Meantime, without a label, Cole pays for her studio time. Then, in the age of the internet, she releases the music on her own to Spotify and other outlets.

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