A career in the music business is a precarious thing. The streets of Nashville are littered with the broken dreams of talented artists who — for one reason or another — never quite made the big time.
A local teenager is looking to buck that trend, and she has plans in place to ensure her success, whether music ever proves financially lucrative or not.
Maggie Cox, a 17-year-old senior at Adair County High School, began singing when she was only 7, took up guitar at 9, and started writing her own tunes at 14. Last year, she began recording at a studio in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and three of her songs are now available on Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube and her own website.
“I started singing in church, and then a couple years after that I started playing guitar and taking lessons,” Cox says of her early musical forays. “I did a bunch of covers for years but never posted them anywhere. A few years ago, I just sat down at the piano and started writing on my closet with a Sharpie, and I’ve been writing songs ever since.”
While Cox is not necessarily a fan of her earliest work — “I don’t think I’d ever record those early songs,” she says — that spark of inspiration she had while writing on her closet door ignited a passion that continues to burn. She writes about her own life and problems, as well as struggles her friends face.
“Sometimes it’s hard to write about myself, so I definitely take stories that have happened to other people,” Cox says of her writing process. “Sometimes, I’ll talk to my friends and write about what they’re dealing with, and sometimes I write about myself. I like to just write down all the emotions I’m feeling and kind of get them out there.”
After years of singing in church, Cox began to expand her audience locally. She won the Coca-Cola talent show at the Adair County Fair twice and came close two other times. Cox became a mainstay performer at Columbia’s Downtown Days, singing at the event three times.
Following that success, Cox auditioned for the K Country Showdown in Campbellsville, Kentucky, but didn’t win. After sitting out a year’s worth of competitions due to COVID-19, Cox returned to the K Country Showdown in 2021, this time victorious. The win set Cox on a path to recording her own music.
“After I won, I was in their parade, and they asked me to be on the radio,” she explains. “We found a place in Bowling Green to record. If I hadn’t won that Showdown, I don’t think I’d be doing this.”
“This” — this thing Cox is doing — is preparing for a career in music. Set to graduate high school this year, she has safeguards in place to make sure she doesn’t end up starving while trying to make it in Music City.
“After I graduate, I plan to go into a two-year technical program,” Cox says. “Then I’ll graduate at 20 and move to Nashville so I can have a job but also continue to sing and write and meet new people. I wouldn’t want to go to Nashville without knowing that I have some security in what I’m doing.”
Cox says she tries to write music that is relatable to everyone, regardless of age or background. She describes her style as “a little country, a little pop.”
“I think it’s pretty real, pretty emotional,” she says of her songs. “For me, it’s all about playing my music and seeing people’s reactions to it. It always makes me feel good.”