A country artist with a pop sensibility and a playfully sassy attitude, Courtney Cole was born in Mandeville, Louisiana on September 18, 1987. Growing up only 20 minutes from New Orleans, Cole soaked up a rich variety of music, and her parents were serious country music fans who first met when they were dancing the two-step at a honky tonk. At the age of five, Cole performed on-stage for the first time, lip-syncing Sonny & Cher's "I Got You, Babe" with her dad at a church talent show. When Cole was ten, she began attending the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, a performing arts academy in the Crescent City, where she developed a passion for musical theater. Soon Cole was appearing in student productions of The Little Shop of Horrors, The Wizard of Oz, Annie, and The Music Man, among others. But country music remained a personal favorite with Cole, and after completing college, she enrolled at Belmont University, where she majored in commercial voice. By this time, Cole was also writing songs, but given the large number of gifted tunesmiths at Belmont, she wasn't yet inclined to share her work with others. Cole landed an internship with Black River Entertainment, a record company and publishing house, and while she rose through the company's ranks while learning the nuts and bolts of the music business, she never lost her desire to perform.
In 2011, Cole became a contestant on CMT's Next Superstar, a music competition series on the Country Music Television network. The show gave Cole nationwide exposure as a singer and a writer, and she managed a six-episode run on the series before she was voted out. After leaving CMT's Next Superstar, a publishing firm offered Cole a contract as a songwriter, allowing her to focus on her songs full-time, as well as giving her greater opportunities to hone her performing skills. In 2014, Cole dropped her debut digital EP, a primarily acoustic four-song effort titled #NoFilter. One of the tunes from the EP, "Drunk," earned country video airplay on CMT and racked up solid digital sales as a single. A second EP, a three-song effort simply titled Courtney Cole, was released in the fall of 2015, and included the breakout track "Ladylike." With her star rising as a recording artist, Cole ramped up her touring activities, opening dates for Kenny Chesney, Kip Moore, Granger Smith, and Kane Brown, while Miranda Lambert added Cole to the lineup of her 2015 Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars tour. In October 2016, Cole released a new single, "Free.99," an upbeat tale of barhopping with her friends. In an interview with Rolling Stone Country, Cole described the tune by saying, "It's sort of my version of [Beyoncé's] 'Single Ladies.'"