Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Singer and songwriter Julia Cozby gains international fame on YouTube
By Christina Stock
COVID-19 social distancing restrictions forced musicians worldwide into the different branches of social media to share their songs and their fans followed. In our region, Facebook groups such as Ruidoso music have been a platform for local talent to advertise their gigs, to find musicians and of course, today, for the fans to find out what is new with their favorite musicians who are under stay-at-home order.
One of those musicians is Julia Cozby. In Roswell, the country, Americana and blues singer and songwriter is known for her occasional performances at festivals such as the UFO Festival. However, living in Tularosa, Cozby usually performed in Alamogordo and Ruidoso. This was before COVID-19.
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Richard Cagle at Montrose Records alerted the Ruidoso community that — three months after the release of her new album Keep on Walking — its cover song had reached a surprisingly large audience worldwide.
Houston, Texas-based public relation agent John McNerney was surprised as well. “Independent artists have a tough time finding a wider audience in order to gain a wider fan base,” he wrote in an email. “In Julia’s situation, Rich contracted with a storytelling music video producer and they crafted a music video titled ‘Keep On Walking.’ After it was completed, my job was to create a press release that would circulate inside the music industry and attempt to bolster support for the new video. What happened after the video went public and is still happening is that Julia is rising fast on YouTube. Obviously, there are all kinds of independent artists uploading music videos but for one to enjoy the numbers Julia’s song is delivering is rather rare. Julia’s song/video shot up into the low thousands within the first six days, in a month it rose to 29,000 views, and just this week she topped 33,000.”
At press time, Cozby’s YouTube video had more than 34,600 views. Commenting are music fans from all over the U.S., the Netherlands and even Russia. Her song “Keep on Walking” on the New Mexico charts had been climbing as well to No. 3 in the country genre.
Listening to her smooth and bluesy voice, one easily understands the artist’s success. The songs are heartfelt and easy to listen to with a uniqueness that is rare in the genre. Especially the blues elements stand out, such as in the song “Your Resistance is Such a Drag” and the bittersweet lyrics accompanied by just the perfect balanced tunes of Cozby’s Americana song “Brokedown Thunderstorm.”
In a phone interview from her home in Tularosa, Cozby talked about her background and art.
“My family was musical. My mother played the piano and clarinet and was very musical. My dad is from a singing music-loving family. I started singing when I was 2 years old and it was something I was able to hear and sing harmony naturally without any instruction, and in high school, my mother thought it was very important that I had voice lessons, so I started my very first voice lesson. When I graduated from high school, I was offered a scholarship to study at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music for vocal performance. I did that for three semesters, but because they had an opera track and they didn’t have other tracks, it wasn’t appealing to me. Not that I don’t appreciate opera, it just wasn’t something I wanted to perform. I ended up moving to a school of arts and sciences and getting my English degree with emphasis in journalism. I was working for the college newspaper for a while and was the entertainment editor, so I know what you are up to,” she said and laughed.
Cozby said that after graduation, other work took priority in her life. She had married and moved first to Utah and then to Louisville, Kentucky. Here, she would make a friend who ultimately brought her to southeast New Mexico. Her friend was an archaeologist and they both worked at the same company in Louisville. He had moved away to Tularosa, New Mexico, when in 2008 her company went under, but her friend told her that there might be a job available for her at his company. Cozby got the job and moved to New Mexico where she got back to her music thanks to musicians she befriended in the area.
“I played with some people in the town of Bent, which is between here and Mescalero Reservation. I said OK, let’s hang out together. So six of us met and played some music together — it was rough but we all had a good time, so we said, hey, let’s play music again. This was in 2012, so that’s how I got into playing music again,” Cozby said.
Asked if Cozby gets inspiration for her songs from her past, she said, “I think so, without life experiences, what are you? What is the trigger? Where do you get an inspiration, an idea without it? From relationships — one of my songs is about somebody who wasn’t cool. Four years later, when I started writing songs, that got worked through. There is a line in a song, ‘Think twice in doing me wrong or else you’ll end up in my next song.’ I don’t have children so I had a way more fringy adventurous life for myself throughout the years.”
Cozby describes the difficulty of finding musicians to perform with her. She said that most are booked with their own band and have no time to perform with her. After her album came out, she had planned to travel to either Houston, Texas, where her public relations company is, or to East California where her sister lives.
“My older sister has a master’s degree in music education. We’re all musical — it’s in our blood. I was thinking of going there and put a band together. I was weighing my options, I didn’t have any gigs lined up, any tour, anything because I wanted to see how the album would be received. In Europe, apparently things are cooking, the Netherlands have picked me up, which is great,” Cozby said.
Cozby said that she was very happy how her album turned out, which she says is thanks to her record company and Cagle.
Asked how she is keeping positive while being forced to stay at home, Cozby said, “I love New Mexico. This is my home. This is the second place that I lived in the longest, besides my childhood home in Kansas City. I am not moving anywhere. That means that I go to Ruidoso all the time. That’s my crew, those are my people. They support me, they are my friends and also my fans, they come out.
“I play my guitar every two days, go through my set list. If I think about a song, a line, I get it written down, but the creative process is interesting, when it is disrupted by something as serious as COVID-19, it can be a serious disruption and you get focused on other things. The music, the lines don’t come; it’s really strange, I can’t explain it.
“Both of my parents died shortly after each other and that was a difficult time, that was winter 2018/19, not that long ago and that disrupted me for a while. It was rough. But I started getting back on the horse and it was about the end of 2019, the album was getting to come out and I was excited. I am a songwriter, I am going to write songs again and then that COVID-19 thing hit, so I garden. I am an avid gardner and so I got vegetables, I’ve been eating out of my garden for three weeks now.
“I also am a bicycle rider and I love riding my bicycle around the country because only a few blocks away are fields and cattle and people doing farm things. I love getting on my bicycle and riding real hard out in the country and keeping my physical healthy. I put my headphones on and get my song list and I just sing riding my bike out in the country. Hopefully nobody hears it. When you are riding your bike hard and singing, it’s a challenge, so when you are standing in front of a microphone, it’s going to kill it, it’s nothing. That is my secret weapon to keep my voice in shape.”
Cozby is not only outdoors, but using the time to be creative as well. She has been uploading songs on her YouTube channel and is staying busy. “I am writing some new things, I have new songs I am coming up with. Probably, when we hang up, I am going to do some scales so at least I keep my guitar stuff somewhere. I am not a guitar virtuoso by any means, I try to play it and I sing along and it’s my tool to write my songs but I rely on better guitar players. And I am cleaning my house to the degree, like yesterday I mopped, I threw stuff away. I think I am doing what everybody else is doing,” Cozby said.
For more information and to connect with Cozby on social media, visit her website at juliacozby.com.