Metro Detroit Singer Maggie Cocco Propels A Career By Saying 'This Is Me'
December 13th, 2014, 12:57 PM
When you ask Maggie Cocco what to expect from one her performances, she takes a moment before replying: "I don't want to sound hokey, but emotional honesty."
Right away, you know the Rochester 23-year-old is just being honest.
After promising her mom to get a degree before pursuing a career in music, Cocco is finally venturing into the industry. She graduated last April from Oakland University, where she sang with the student chorale.
Having only started playing regular shows in spring, she could be expected to be unsure of what to say or do. Instead, I met a young woman who knows exactly where she wants to go and trusts herself to get there. With a business to her name, a debut album release party Saturday night in Ferndale and a tour on the horizon, Cocco is ready to take things to the next level.
DD: What was the thought process behind an all-female showcase for your release party?
MC: Truthfully, the thought process started when we brought in Janel Stone of 7 Stone Management.
I graduated from Oakland University this past April with degrees in vocal performance in music mducation. My goal was to finish a five-year program in four years. So, I had to take 18-21 credits a semester. Because of that, my schedule was packed and I didn’t have the time to branch out and meet musicians. When I was finally ready to share my music, it was time to bring in professionals to help me make my statement.
We brought in Janel who said: “This is how we should approach this. Let’s put together a bill that showcases all-female experienced Detroit musicians. We can bill it as 'Women Who Rock' and partner with a charity that greatly benefits our community.” I believe that some great choices were made with regards to the 3 other acts on the bill. I also really like the idea of choosing Forgotten Harvest as the beneficiary.
DD: What can listeners expect from the album?
MC: My music is a blues-rock fusion with an emphasis on fusion. Some songs are pop. Others are jazzier. They were composed over a very lengthy period of time. It’s my first album so I had a lot to choose from. I wasn’t sure how it was going to be received because it’s very eclectic. So far, I don’t believe that the critics have given the listeners enough credit because I’ve had people say, “Yes! This is great because we get tired of listening to the same thing all of the time.”
DD: Were there people who warned you about creating such an eclectic album?
MC: I had people who have been in the industry for a long time say that the album wasn’t going to fly. But, I don’t think there is a standard in this business. You have put your foot down and say, “This is me.”
We started with listeners who were in their 30s and 40s and now people between the ages of 18 and 25 are starting to listen. The industry people are saying, “Wow, how is this happening?” And I’m like, “I am their age! I know what people listen to. I can tell you what’s going to be appealing and sound good to people in that age group. I’m not totally different because I’m a musician.”
DD: Why did you decide to record in Baton Rouge and Nashville instead of Detroit?
MC: It was a “go with the flow” kind of thing. I hooked up with Leon Medica, who did the soundtrack of Dirty Dancing. He’s out of Nashville so we followed the connection down to Tennessee which is where we did the first take of the album. The second take we followed the connections down to Baton Rouge where I had a better grasp on what I was doing. That’s where most of the album tracks came from.
DD: You worked with some really incredible musicians. What was that like?
MC: I don’t tend to read reviews. I didn’t even look up the musicians I was going to work with before going down to Baton Rouge and Nashville, because I didn’t want to be anything other than myself. For example, when I was in Nashville I worked with some guys who were part of groups that are well-known, like the Allman Brothers. If I had known that, I don’t know that I would have been as cool as I was.
DD: Wow, how did you connect with such well-known artists?
MC: You have to remember that musicians are typically humble people. In my situation, I was taking the plunge first. I was the one going to them and saying, “You are you. I am this fledgling artists and this is what I’ve done.” You go with them with your heart on your sleeve and nobody wants to stomp on you. They just try to lift you up and help however they can.
DD: Going back to the release party, what’s it been like working with Rio Scafone, Carolyn Striho and Keri Lynn Roche, who have been part of the Detroit music scene for a while?
MC: Rio and Carolyn have been introducing me to people. They’re the veterans guiding me along. I feel like I’ve been inducted into this group of women in Detroit. I haven’t met Keri yet, but we’ve been e-mailing a lot. She’s really good at networking. She has experience from American Idol and now is working on breaking into the Detroit scene. So, it’s like we’re going through this together.
DD: Any general thoughts on your experience so far?
MC: I’ve been surprised by the lack of competitiveness that people warned me about. Everyone is just, “This is a new artist. Welcome her!” I expected cutthroat and I found a family of musicians trying to support each other. I think the internet has really changed how musicians see each other. They know that they need each other and work to help one another. That’s been my experience in Detroit, but having recorded in Baton Rouge and Nashville, I can say the experience was similar in those cities.
DD: Tell me a little bit more about Cocco Music, LLC.
MC: Cocco Music, LLC is me, my dad and a group of people who have decided that they like what we are doing.
My dad is the one with the great business acumen, so he works on those things that he is really good at. I work on the music side, doing things that I’m really good at. I teach lessons. I’m the music director. I work with bands.
Right now, we are using myself as the guinea pig to figure out the right way to network, set up gigs, talk with labels, contract and everything else. Eventually, what we want to do is take other musicians, who would otherwise had a hard time connecting with a label and help them with their careers.