Cope skills

Photo: Anna Lee

It only took one neglected guitar for Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Chelsey Cope to devote herself to music.

“My older sister had this weird obsession with Garth Brooks when she was younger. She asked for a guitar to learn how to play, but she was gone all the time. She had a lot more friends than I did,” she said. “So, one thing led to another, I snuck into her room and started teaching myself to play whatever I could.”

A true bedroom artist, Cope kept her experiments quiet for almost a year before her mom outed her.

“I sat in my room, behind closed doors, for eight months without anyone knowing what I was doing. If anyone came in, I would pretend like I wasn’t doing anything. I was really shy about it,” Cope said. “My mom called me out in front of my family at Christmas one year, and I awkwardly sang for everyone. Then I just started hopping on with anyone who was involved with live music. They kind of tossed me into the fire.”

She hit the coffeehouse circuit in her native Tulsa before settling into both Oklahoma City and herself as an artist. She put out her first full project, A Deeper Root, this summer.

“I still don’t know what I’m doing,” Cope said. “I don’t have theory or anything like that, but I’ve started to think more as a musician and professional as opposed to being totally raw. It’s not just about training. It’s about passion when it comes down to it.”

Although there’s no shortage of lovely, female singer-songwriters in the metro area, Cope has carved out her own niche as a formidable lyricist, born out of early days writing poetry.

“I’ve been told before my lyrics are really deep. I don’t know if they meant it as a compliment or not,” she said, laughing.

That talent was on full display in A Deeper Root, which was a cleansing process for Cope, who plays Friday at Kamp’s Deli & XIII X Lounge with Black Canyon.

“Every song was kind of directed towards a person,” she said. “It was closure for me, that EP was.”

And with her first, big public work out for the world to enjoy, she’s now turned her attention toward a follow-up, which promises to be a little bigger and better than its predecessor.

“This next EP is going a different direction,” Cope said. “I want to portray to people that I’m not just this folky singer-songwriter. It’s not about that. There’s a whole different side of me people haven’t gotten to see yet.”

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Joshua Boydston

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