If great country music is still built on a solid foundation of compelling real-life stories and soul-deep family tradition, Stephen Cochran was born to the breed. With a Music Row pedigree, a soldier's sense of purpose and a lifetime's worth of stories, this 27-year-old explodes onto the country music scene with a self-titled debut album that combines the best of cutting-edge, contemporary songwriting with the deepest country music tradition. It's a potent combination, and it was Cochran's intention from the start.
"We really tried to capture country music as a whole," he says. "This is all about the music, and I handpicked every song on this CD."
From the cracking snare drum that kicks off "Friday Night Fireside," the album's raucous leadoff track and debut single, it's clear that, musically, Cochran means business. Stephen knew he had to record the song that was co-written by Isaac Rich, brother of Big & Rich's John Rich.
Born in Pikeville, Kentucky and raised in the creative heart of Nashville's songwriting and recording community, he watched his Dad, Steve Cochran, wrestle with the machinery of Music Row as a struggling songwriter and artist. Country greats Bobby Bare and the late Del Reeves are just a couple of the characters that drifted in and out of the Cochran home.
"That was my school, coming home and watching Dad practice and play and write," he says. "With Dad doing his music hustle, I was raised in the business and I learned the ins and outs. My dad is a perfectionist and he's always been hard on me, but I'm glad because if he hadn't been that hard on me I wouldn't have worked as hard as I have to be here. I love music, and that's what he instilled in me. There's a song on the album called "Old School" that says, 'I remember what Daddy told me, you've got to play it how it feels and just always keep it real.'"
Stephen's life on his way to his fiery debut release is about as real as it gets. Always a patriotic family, the Cochrans, like a lot of Americans, were forever changed by the traumatic events of 9/11. The music would have to wait. Stephen Cochran knew what he had to do.
"The way I was raised was to be very thankful to this country for being able to do our dream, which is music," Cochran says. "So to stand up and defend it? That's our honor."