Country music journalist and Grammy-nominated musician Peter Cooper has died at Tuesday night. He was 52.
Who is Peter Cooper
Cooper was born in South Carolina, and he moved to Nashville in 2000, landing a high-profile gig as a music journalist with the Tennessean, a job that launched him into recognition as one of the most influential voices in country music journalism.
Cooper was as much a country music historian as he was a writer, and he brought a formidable knowledge of the genre to his writing that set him apart, earning fans that included Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Hank Williams Jr., among many others.
Cooper was also well-known in the country music community in Nashville as a mentor figure for a large number of new and aspiring writers and musicians.
Besides his son, Baker, Cooper is survived by his ex-wife and partner of 32 years, Charlotte; father, Wiley Cooper; stepmother, Emily Cooper; brother, Chris Cooper; sister-in-law, Jessie Swigger; nephew and niece, Jack Cooper and Madeline Cooper; and stepfather, Al Smuzynski.
Peter Cooper’s Twin Career
Peter Cooper built a successful double career as a respected musician who received a Grammy nomination and one of the most significant journalists covering country music.
From 2000 to 2014, Cooper worked as a prize-winning journalist for The Tennessean, conducting interviews with and writing about a variety of musicians, including George Jones, Johnny Cash, Taylor Swift, Kris Kristofferson, and others.
According to a statement Kristofferson previously made, Cooper “looks at the world with an artist’s eye, and a human heart and spirit,” The Tennessean reported on Wednesday.
Cooper resigned from The Tennessean to work as senior director, producer, and writer at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, where he continued to collaborate with country musicians.
Cooper’s Albums and Books
The museum released a statement on Wednesday saying that “he developed and implemented mission-oriented initiatives, exhibitions, podcasts, and, as a writer, neatly expressed the rich nature of the country music story.”
His heart was even bigger than his talents, and he had an incredible influence on everyone he came into contact with. He made his own songs, collaborated with other musicians, and wrote a book about country music called “Johnny’s Cash & Charley’s Pride.”
Cooper and Eric Brace produced the Grammy-nominated album, “I Love Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow,” a tribute album based on Tom T. Hall’s children’s music. It was nominated for a Grammy for Best Children’s Album in 2012. He also co-produced an album for Mac Wiseman called “Songs from My Mother’s Hand.”
He recorded three albums as a solo artist and three more with fellow singer-songwriter Eric Brace, the last of which was “Profiles in Courage, Frailty, and Discomfort” in 2017.
After leaving the Tennessean, he continued to write, and in 2017 his book “Johnny’s Cash & Charley’s Pride: Lasting Legends and Untold Adventures in Country Music” was published.
Encouraged to Pursue Music Career
Cooper was encouraged to pursue his music career, modestly and intermittently, after he went moonlighting from journalism to play bass in 2006 in the band of the great Americana singer-songwriter Todd Snider. Cooper could be seen playing in Snider’s band in appearances on “The Tonight Show” and David Letterman’s program.
In his newspaper writing days and beyond, Cooper made no bones about being an advocate for the artists he loved. “Objectivity is the mortal enemy,” he wrote, distinguishing subjectivity from what he called “cheerleading.” “Objectivity is dispassionate,” Cooper continued. “And we’re in the passion business. We’re trying to make people feel something different than what they felt before they read our words.”
But he also experienced country music as a Grammy-nominated producer, singer, songwriter, and performer. His 2012 Grammy nom came for co-producing “I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow,” a multi-artist remake of a famous 1974 children’s album by Hall, one of his musical heroes.
Incredibly sad news to relate: Peter Cooper — an outstanding musician and educator, a top-notch country music journalist and most recently a senior staffer at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum — has died.https://t.co/InN5tXslUs
— Nashville Scene (@NashvilleScene) December 7, 2022
Peter Cooper Cause of Death
Country music journalist and Grammy-nominated musician Peter Cooper has died. He was 52. A statement from his family said Cooper died Tuesday night after suffering a severe head injury last week.
A significant part of the Nashville music community had been keeping Cooper in collective thoughts and prayers since he suffered a severe head injury in a fall late last week. He had remained in critical condition in the days leading up to his death, although hospital visitors had described him as showing signs of responsiveness as they gathered around his bedside.
The family asked that, in place of flowers, friends make donations to the Baker Cooper fund, to support his son’s education, or to the Hall of Fame and Museum.