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Rising Stars: Meet Cole Hansen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cole Hansen. 

Hi Cole, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I grew up in a family of non-musicians, but my parents have always been very supportive of me pursuing music in any way they could. They both love music but enjoy very different ends of the spectrum. My dad has always been a big classic rock and blues guy, while my mom was more into musicals, movie soundtracks, classic country, and church hymns. My parents couldn’t afford to pay for music lessons when I was a kid, but I got involved with music in whatever ways I could from joining the school band and singing with the choir to performing solos at church (with a lot of coaxing from family and friends). When I was 14, I decided I wanted to learn how to play guitar so I could accompany myself. The very next day, I found a guitar at my neighbor’s estate sale for $50 and asked long-time friend-of-the-family Mark Swanson to get me started teaching me some chords. Once my parents knew I was going to stick with the guitar, they commissioned Mark to build me a custom guitar of my own and surprised me with it on my 16th birthday. It is the guitar I still play to this day. 

After high school, I studied music for a few years as a voice major at GRCC. There, I got a nice introduction into music theory, classical vocal technique, piano, and ear training, as well as experience singing with the college choir, Shades of Blue (award-winning vocal jazz group), and an English Madrigal chorus. After that, I played the open mic scene in Grand Rapids and sang backup for other artists, including Brant Satala, Nate Johnivan (Drawing Monsters, Monkey Robot War), and Rob Jordan (Bello Spark). 

I’ve been writing songs for 22 years, but it’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve called myself a songwriter. There was always this voice in my head saying things like, “You’re not good enough,” “Just because you’ve written songs doesn’t mean you’re a songwriter” “Everyone is going to laugh at you,” “You’re too fat.” “You’re not smart enough,”… After the loss of a close friend in Aug 2017, I decided I needed to rewrite my story. I decided life was too short to continue to hide my songs and myself from people. Since then, I released my debut album, “Just In Case,” appeared in productions at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Circle Theatre, Opera Grand Rapids, and had the pleasure of performing in dozens of wonderful Michigan venues. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
It definitely has not been a smooth road. After studying music in college, I played with a few bands to keep music in my life in some way, but I always always held a full-time job. I fit myself into every box but ‘musician’ because I didn’t believe I was good enough to “make it.” I didn’t know any other songwriters – so I just imagined they were all having to work regular jobs too. For many years, music remained my hidden talent. Choosing yourself – and your art, every day – is not an easy road. There are a thousand different options for what you can do with your music, depending on your specific skill set. It is exciting to have so much potential, but it’s also daunting. It requires a massive amount of confidence and consistent effort in the direction of your dreams. Anyone who’s seen me perform would never guess it, but confidence has never been something that comes naturally to me. I have to psych myself up. I give myself little pep talks. It started with positive affirmations back in 2017 like, “You are loved. You are good enough. You are worthy.” or “Your unique talents and abilities are always in demand.” Now it’s remembering things friends or family have said to me and playing those voices in my head instead of my own. At the very least, it is catching the thought about myself as it is happening and deciding to think something kinder. 

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am known for my voice. Powerful and emotive one minute, sweet and pure the next. Soothing as sunshine. I am a classically trained vocalist, but I pride myself on my ability to sing a variety of genres, and I can blend well with just about any voice. Personality-wise, I am known for my fierce positivity. I try to always be the light in the darkness. I write the kinds of songs that make people feel better. People have told me they fell in love with me the moment I started singing, which is pretty flattering. 

I am most proud of the work I did on my new album, “Vote for Love.” It’s about letting go of limitations and labels and the challenges that come along with learning to love yourself wherever you happen to be in life. It is about coming to terms with the darkest parts of yourself and recognizing the darkness that exists in the world, then making a conscious effort to choose love, light, and positivity. 

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
From a very young age, I knew I wanted to perform, and I knew I wanted to make the world a better place. Because of that, I was obnoxiously passionate about the environment and social justice issues, never hesitating to stand up for “what is right.” I was mostly a really good kid. I got decent grades; I got along with everyone. For years, I played in the school band, sang in the choir, participated in drama club, sang solos at school and at church. I honestly wasn’t that different that I am now. I was sweet but a bit of a rebel. I liked climbing on things I’m not supposed to, the outdoors, riding my bike, random adventures, exploring and learning about new places, meeting people from different backgrounds and ethnicities, animals, science, ghost stories, and laughing until I cry. 


  • $10 – Album 1 – “Just In Case”
  • $15 – Album 2 – “Vote for Love”*out 11/6
  • $20 – Cole Hansen Hummingbird Logo Tee
  • $20 – Ticket for Album Release Party at Listening Room

Contact Info:

Image Credits

Mod Bettie
Christina Hutton
Cassidy Warner
Jill Szyszko

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