Kristy Lee Cook, the former 'American Idol' finalist from Southern Oregon, has a new lease on life after signing a deal with Broken Bow Records late last summer.
By this summer, she hopes to have put out her first single with the label.
'It's a label I wanted to be with since I was 17 years old,' says Cook, 27, a native of Seattle who lives in Selma, near the Rogue River National Forest.
Cook has also gone the television route, starring in two reality television shows in recent years, including 'Goin' Country' on Versus Network. She's close to wrapping her second season of shooting, literally and figuratively. The show is about Cook's adventures in hunting, as well as her quest to be a country music star.
Cook will appear at the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen's Show, Friday and Saturday afternoons at the Expo Center.
The Tribune caught up with Cook, known as 'KLC' to her friends, to chat about various topics:
Tribune: You've been hunting for almost six years - what got you started?
Cook: Actually, it was an ex-boyfriend of mine. Once I got into hunting and pulled my first trigger, I've loved it. I go on about eight or nine hunts per season, not including ones with Oregon tags.
Tribune: You shot a bear on your property recently, but any other highlight hunts?
Cook: I went on a mule deer hunt, where we packed in on horses. Hunted Idaho black bear with (mixed martial artists) Uriah Faber and Chad Mendes. (Former fellow Idol contestant) Bo Bice, got him to go on an Oregon blacktail hunt. I did an Oregon elk hunt.
Tribune: Anybody in your family hunt?
Cook: My brother was a hunter. I was raised in Seattle till 8 or 9. My dad and mom never hunted. Dad's a veteran, so is mom. Dad was a Ranger in the Army. He says it's a lot easier for him to be in a war than doing that. He doesn't know if he could shoot an animal. He's more into sniper stuff and guns.
Tribune: Has it been tough to hunt an animal?
Cook: Yeah, you don't know what to expect. But it wasn't as tough as I thought it would be. When somebody tells me you're not going to succeed or not going to do something … everybody didn't think I could shoot an animal. I hit a deer before (with a car), and bawled my eyes out. But, when I went hunting for the first time … somebody told me, 'She's not going to be able to pull the trigger.' I like to prove people wrong.
Tribune: You've done reality TV now; is being a TV personality more important than being a singer?
Cook: I'd like to do both. I have so much going on in my music career, and (Broken Bow) is the best opportunity I've had. What could anybody else ask for? I'm not giving that up. I'd love to do stuff on TV, with a hunting show or my stuff.
Tribune: You released an album ('Why Wait') and single ('15 Minutes of Shame') after 'American Idol,' update us on your singing career.
Cook: I signed with Broken Bow in October; it's Jason Aldean's label, and he's my favorite country artist. I got some of the top producers, the best producers, got the best label behind me. They're letting me choose my own songs, and I've written tons of songs. I'm going into the studio Feb. 15 to produce four songs that I've co-written. We're looking at late spring or summer for (releasing) a single, hoping to tour in the fall. … (To be with Broken Bow) is really huge. I'm so excited about it. I have a great feeling about it. It feels like my family at that record label.
Tribune: You want to hit it big?
Cook: That's been my dream since I was little. I want to show everybody I can do it. I've been dropped once, been dropped twice (by record labels), and I'm coming back a third time, still giving it all I got, working harder than I ever have before.
Tribune: What is '15 Minutes of Shame' about? Idol?
Cook: It's funny when I go to that song. A man named Justin Weaver wrote that, and the name in the song was 'Jason.' I wanted to put the name of my ex in there. It fit me perfect. It's giving him 15 minutes of shame on the radio. … It doesn't have anything to do with Idol. I never thought I had 15 minutes of shame at all. I made it that far, no shame in that.
Tribune: 'Goin' Country' has been well received; your thoughts?
Cook: I want it to be fun and not just a hunting show, where I'm constantly sitting in a tree and killing things. A lot of people aren't for that. I want it to be for kids, men and women, many ages. It has me and my horses and rescue foundation, barrel racing, music career, hunting, bringing different celebrities on. The last hunt is in May, when we'll finish off season two. I believe it airs in May or June.
Tribune: How many horses do you have, and which is your favorite?
Cook: Nine. I've actually had 15 before, and a lot more than that when I lived in Texas, about 20. My favorite is 'Captain.' He replaced 'Montana,' which I sold to audition for Idol. (Captain is) a barrel horse, a rescued horse, and a friend wants to trick-train him and maybe use him for shows in Australia. He's a cool horse. I wouldn't give him up for anything. I feel sorry for him, because I only ride him maybe twice a month, take him to compete. He does a good job.