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  • Jonathan Widran

AMANDA COLE, To The Water

Magnificently defying conventional music industry wisdom that tells artists and performers to choose and master a single path, vocalist Amanda Cole has enjoyed a stellar, multi-faceted career sharing the empowering beauty of her instrument in a great variety of genres and settings – from country and R&B to rock, classical and Tejano.


While perhaps best known for her four-year stint (1999-2003) as a touring and recording member of En Vogue, the singer – who began recording demos in high school for the group’s songwriter/producers Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy – has also performed in touring productions of Ain’t Misbehavin’, Anything Goes and Dreamgirls; worked as a background vocalist for Tejano singer Rebecca Valdez; sung with jazz saxophonist David Villanueva (aka DVJazz); and received rave reviews for performing and 18-song tribute to her idol, Whitney Houston, with symphony orchestras across the U.S. 


Finally embracing her destiny as a recording artist in her own right, Amanda teams up with veteran composer, keyboardist, producer and musical kindred spirit Kevin Flournoy on the new single “To the Water,” a poignant, heartrending and truly epic ballad by singer/songwriter Matt Simons sung from the perspective of a dying woman ready to cross over. The song will appear on Flournoy’s aptly titled upcoming debut album Vers•a•tility and Amanda’s future Flournoy-produced project.


“A friend of Matt’s sent me the original version of ‘To The Water,’ asking me to do a cover of it,” says Amanda. “My grandmother had just passed away from Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and the song hit home for me. Like the lady in the song, my grandmother was tired of fighting and had made peace with her fate. The first time I heard it, I cried for half an hour. It was very therapeutic. Kevin is an amazing orchestrator and producer. He transforms every song into a truly beautiful thing!”


Amanda has been working with Flournoy since 2017, when, after hearing her stunning YouTube rendition of Houston’s “I Have Nothing” (current view total, 1.9M), he contacted her to record a demo of a song he was working on titled “Dream Your Dream.” The two soon began collaborating, starting with “The Greatest of All Time” – a tune intended for a movie about Muhammad Ali. They have since written and recorded a handful of songs that will be on Amanda’s debut collection.



During her incredible years as a replacement member with En Vogue, Amanda sang on their 2002 holiday album The Gift of Christmas and had the opportunity to open shows for the legendary likes of Mary J. Blige, New Edition and Donna Summer (at a festival in Holland).  When the trio toured with New Edition, Houston came around and hung out often, prompting Amanda to recall a moment in a studio many years earlier, when she was a demo singer. Houston came into a session where Amanda was demo’ing a track  the producers were hoping to submit to the superstar. Houston said, “Good voice, but I don’t like the song.”


Amanda’s career in that arena started a few years earlier when the Mississippi native was a student in the Arts Magnet Program at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual arts in Dallas. Her demo of Houston’s “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” reached the ears of veteran exec Gary Reeves, who helped assemble En Vogue, and within a few years, she was commuting regularly to Los Angeles for demo and session work. She attended the prestigious school on scholarship for her junior and senior years and later attended Oklahoma University, where she received a B.A. in Musical Theatre and a minor in English. Her first gig out of college was a year on the road with gospel singer David E. Talbert.


Though Amanda performed occasionally after leaving En Vogue in 2003 to focus on her family and raising four girls, her career took off unexpectedly again when, upon the urging of one of her daughters, she began posting “Amanda-ized” versions of contemporary pop songs in the mid-2010s. Starting with Tamar Braxton’s “Love and War” and “4 AM” by Melanie Fiona, she started building massive following after posting her version of David Guetta and Sia’s “Titanium.” Among her most-viewed clips are covers of “I Will Always Love You,” “Chandelier” and Adele’s “Hello,” in addition to hits by Beyonce and Bon Jovi. She currently has 130M collective Facebook views and 10M views on YouTube.


In addition to being an artist and performer, Amanda is a well-respected vocal instructor Expanding beyond the private lessons she gave during her days as a stay-at-home mom, in September 2023 she accepted a position as a general vocal coach at the School of Rock location in her current hometown of Bentonville, AR – where she teaches people of all ages, from ages six to 84!


“It’s the most incredible job opportunity I could have asked for,” says Amanda, “especially seeing the way kids develop their love of music the way I did when I was growing up. It’s so important to share my knowledge, and this is my way of helping cultivate the next generation. I want young people to know there’s more to being an artist than having your face on a billboard and getting likes on social media. Music is what connects us, cultivates our culture and drives us forward. I grew up in a very different time, and to me, I don’t see a lot of today’s artists having images that are redemptive and inspirational to kids. As a singer, it was never my dream to be famous, but simply to produce beautiful music that can help and touch people’s lives and transcend some of the darker currents happening in popular music now.”    

 

 

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