- Associated Press - Monday, July 24, 2017

SWANSBORO, N.C. (AP) - The upcoming solar eclipse comes with big dreams for a bright future for a Swansboro girl working to launch her music career.

On Aug. 21, the Great American Eclipse will mark the first time a total solar eclipse has gone from one American coast to the other since 1918. It’s also the first time since 1257, before there was a United States, that an eclipse will only be visible from U.S. soil.

It will also be the day that 11-year-old Anna Cole releases her first EP, 5 by Five, a CD/DVD double disc set with five of Anna’s original songs and five matching videos.

Fittingly, the backdrop for the cover of the EP is an image of a total eclipse.

“Some events only happen once-in-a-lifetime and she’s only going to put out her first EP once,” Cole said.

As Cole proudly talks about his daughter’s work on the EP, he stops and pulls up a photo on the computer of he and Anna singing together. She was only about 3 or 4 years old at the time and he had pulled her on stage while he was still performing with the band Sharkadelics.

He would bring her up on stage a couple times a year and that night they were at The Orange Peel in Asheville. Anna loved it.

Even then, he saw his daughter’s singing potential.

“It’s been natural for her,” he said.

Anna blushed a bit when dad started showing pictures of her as a kid but she sat comfortably behind a microphone in their home recording studio.

Behind a microphone is where she loves to be.

“There’s no specific thing that got me started. I just love singing. I love to perform for people,” she said.

On July 4, Anna performed on stage at the Freedom Festival in Onslow Pines Pines Park and debuted her new song It’s for Freedom, a tribute song honoring the sacrifice of service members and their families. Following her stop in Jacksonville she headed to Swansboro to sing the National Anthem at the opening of the fireworks display.

She can’t really remember a time when her love for singing started. It has always been there.

But the day she went to her dad and said “I want to be a singer,” a new journey began.

“One day she told me she wanted to be a singer and she wanted to take it seriously,” Cole recalled. “I guess it was probably about three years ago. I said Ok, I’ll do everything I can to get you out there, but I told her she’s got to work really, really hard to have a chance. I passed the baton to her and here we are.”

For 10 years, Cole was lead singer for the Sharkadelics, a full-time cover band based in Asheville. While he loved performing, traveling across the region each weekend was keeping him away from his family.

In 2012 he and his wife, Jennifer, decided it was time to make a fresh start with Anna and their son Trace. Their destination was the coast though they weren’t sure where they’d go.

Cole reactivated his teaching license and a job offer with Onslow County Schools brought them to Swansboro.

He now teaches social studies at Swansboro Middle School and Anna’s mom is a teacher at Swansboro Elementary.

But the Cole family is a musical one and they have all been a part of Anna’s goal of being signed by a record label and going on tour.

Anna’s mom has helped her write lyrics, her dad is her producer and even brother Trace, 5, can be found helping out in the recording studio.

With today’s digital technology, Anna, with the help of her dad, has been able to record her music and produce her videos through their home recording studio.

It has also given her the ability to learn the many aspects involved in a music career. So far, there’s not much she doesn’t like taking on, from writing lyrics to creating videos.

While singing in their studio or on stage comes more naturally for her, Anna said she’s becoming more accustomed to making videos and working in different settings.

Anna may only be 11 years old but says she’s dedicated to making her dream come true.

Singing, she believes, is her calling.

“There’s always room for learning,” Anna said. “I want to improve in everything; I want to know all that I can.”

Cole said overnight success doesn’t really happen overnight. He told Anna from the start that it’s a hard business and she’d have to work hard to make success happen.

“She wants it but she has to earn it,” Cole said.

On the flip side, Cole has seen her drive and dedication and the hours she has put into making her dream happen.

“I do think she has what it takes,” Cole said.

Cole said Anna is learning that all her long hours can bring results.

“We think we can help get her somewhere but it’s up to Anna,” Cole said.

Hard work has started to pay off. Not only is she releasing an EP, but she has been performing in various venues around the area, from the Freedom Festival to singing the National Anthem at the Carolina Mudcats baseball game. Her song It’s for Freedom aired July 4 on local radio stations in Wilmington and Jacksonville and on July 3 she was a co-host on V103.3’s “Long Drive at 5” with DJ.

She has a webpage at annanicole.net and has songs on Google Play, as well as a social media presence on Facebook and Instagram.

And as she matures, Anna says she is using more life experiences to come up with song ideas and is getting more involved in each aspect of her music projects. She’s headed to middle school and anxious to keep her music career moving forward.

She loves to sing and looks forward to performing each time she hits the stage.

“I hope they see a singer and not just a little girl and that they can relate to what I’m singing,” Anna said.


Information from: The Daily News, https://www.jdnews.com

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