How Cole Swindell “Amazed” Himself

Lonestar Helped Him Find His Voice

You know those country artists that started singing in church and at county fairs when they were like 4 years old? Well, that was not Cole Swindell.

In fact, Swindell told me on Wednesday (Dec. 10) night, right before his sold-out show at Chicago’s Joe’s Bar, that he didn’t even know he could sing until high school.

“I always loved country music. But I didn’t even know I could sing. I just knew I loved the music,” he told me.

“Then when I was in high school, I was down in Panama City and probably had a drink or two, and had some courage from that to get up onstage at a karaoke bar. I sang ’Amazed,’ by Lonestar,” Swindell recalled. “I’m not the best singer in the world anyway, but you know, it was enough for people to be like, ’Man you’re pretty good.'”

And while he admits being very nervous to sing that 1999 hit in front of a crowd, he did it. Then he did it some more.

“Whenever it was spring break, someone would always have a guitar down at the beach, and they’d play a random song and I’d sing. Eventually, hearing compliments from people saying I sounded pretty good stuck with me,” he said.

Then in college, he got even more encouragement.

“People would tell me I’d put on a great show, and they’d say, ’Dude, you’re gonna make it.’ I’m not full of myself, so I played it down,” he told me. But once he met a guitar player in his fraternity — yes Swindell was once a preppy Sigma Chi, in yellow flat-fronts and a Georgia Southern tie on game days — the idea of making something of his music started to get a lot more real.

“It’s scary to think that if I hadn’t rushed that fraternity, I might not have met him,” Swindell said. “And if I hadn’t met him, I might not have kept singing, and I might not have moved to Nashville.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.
@alisonbonaguro