courtney high res


Do you remember the 90’s and the emergence of this new sound, a soulful mixture of hip-hop and R&B? Artists like Mary J Blige helped pioneer the sound and, for a minute, many singers and production crews hopped on the bandwagon. Hip Hop and R&B was creating hits and labels were making millions. In the past 10-15 years, however, pop music has been in the forefront. Many R&B artists transitioned to pop music because of its popularity and ability to reach wider audiences. But, right when you thought R&B died, it didn’t.


One singer/songwriter that’s taking it back to the essence of what hip-hop and R&B is, is Courtney Noelle.


Courtney Noelle is the first lady of Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang label. She has been featured on several songs like Wiz’s chart-topping O.N. I.F.C. (“Got Everything”), Prince of the City Vol. 2 (“Bankroll”), and various other Taylor Gang affiliated projects. While touring on the road with the Taylor Gang family, Courtney has also produced her own projects, Wishing On A Star (2011) and her most recent mixtape Love On The Run (March 2014).


During a recent interview with Courtney Noelle, we discovered that she’s a bit nostalgic in her approach when she writes and what it is she represents. She says her admiration for music career can be contributed to her love of writing poetry and being a huge fan of Missy Elliott’s. Courtney feels that there are young girls who are missing out on a certain type of music and content. The undeniable “emotional Tomboy” says she is creating music for people who can relate to her, her lifestyle, and her experiences.


Courtney has dealt with her share of disappointments in this industry. But, even at the young age of 26, she’s been able to maintain her self-dignity, make major moves, and gain respect from her peers. Read our exclusive interview below and find out more about Courtney’s connection to Wiz Khalifa, why she’s choosing to stay in her own lane, business advice, and the most important thing her mom told her.


On inspiration to become a singer and songwriter…


I use to write poems when I was little because I was really shy. I hated my voice. I didn’t like talking in front of people. I didn’t like meeting people. I didn’t like being on camera at the time. So I was like, “well that’s all you have to do to be a singer. What are you going to do?” I started writing poems. I said you know, actually Missy Elliott is where I was like, I just want to write songs like Missy Elliott. Maybe I can learn how to produce and I don’t have to you know look like Beyoncé. I can just be me and still get the checks.   I wrote a song for a guy group in Baltimore. I was like thirteen or fourteen and it was like a real mature song and I sung it for my mom and she wanted me to sing it for the guy. When I sung it for her, she was like you need to keep that song you don’t need to give that song away that’s a good song. So she took me to my first recording session and I recorded it. I just fell in love with the process of recording and writing. Once I was less afraid of going into the recording studio, it became something I constantly wanted to do. I was finding myself, finding ways to get back to the studio. I kept recording and I eventually ran into an A&R for Warner Brothers who wanted to start his own label called Brooklyn Entertainment. I signed to them initially and then that’s when I was like “I can really do this.” If you have the right people behind you and the right production in music, you can take it really far. That’s where I was like “this is my career this is what I am going to do.”


On how she linked up with Wiz Khalifa…


When that situation fell through, that’s when Wiz was creating Taylor Gang so it was kind of perfect. We had already knew each other from Pittsburgh. We did songs together. He knew what I could do and I trusted him. So it’s just been organic from the beginning, which is why I am so in love with the whole process of being the new artist. We are all friends. Like, I grew up in the same neighborhood as his family. We all recorded at the same local studio since pimpin’ been pimpin’, so it’s like now the only difference is Wiz is famous.


On growing up in Pittsburgh and its music scene…


It really wasn’t a scene, we had to create one. We are in Pittsburgh kind of like the staple for music because of the platform that Wiz is on. And he brings me on, so I’m like really the only well-known female singer in Pittsburgh. He is really the only well-known rapper who actually made it who is actually successful out of Pittsburgh. You have Mac Miller, Chevy Woods…so there really wasn’t a scene, we had to create one because coming from Pittsburgh everyone thought it was impossible. Who’s really coming to check out Pittsburgh artist? Who’s going to take anyone who is NOT from Atlanta or LA or New York? No one wants to hear what you have to say. That’s not true.


If you have good product, good music, and a story to tell there are people out here from all walks of life everywhere in the world that want to hear good music. They don’t care where you came from or what city you’re from.   We had to create that lane and Taylor Gang is the imprint in Pittsburgh. Everyone kind of looks at what we do and there are a lot of other artists there that are trying to make it and they’re good artists. They just have to – just like we do – grind it out. I’m sure we won’t be the last and we weren’t the first. We have Mail Man, who is a really incredible producer, and who has worked with Dr. Dre. He’s from Pittsburgh. So it’s happened before, it’s happening now and it will happen again. It’s a lot of talent in Pittsburgh.


On why her music is different…


All of the content is 100% authentic. It’s definitely 90% of the time from a personal situation or a friend’s personal situation. I think R&B other than recent years was real watered down from women. I think it’s because the way they had it for women they had to be a certain type of way. You had to be the girl in love, getting your heart broke, crying, and that’s just what you had to be. But now I think that there has been a big lane open for girls who are kind of like me. Tomboyish. You know we’re more outspoken and can kind of hang with the guys. So Love on the Run is like around the way girls love story. It’s not the perfect relationship you know, you don’t find yourself. No one is in a perfect relationship, but it’s from a real standpoint.   Like, I wasn’t trained to be in music. I wasn’t taught from the time I was seven what to say, how to act, what to write about, and what’s appropriate and what’s not. I kind of just dove into music right in the middle of my real life relationship experience. I come from a real standpoint. I wasn’t guarded. I wasn’t shielded. I don’t have anyone that writes for me. I write everything. So it’s just authentic and a lot of my friends’ people and girls who are on social networks who listen to it say the same thing. It’s really relatable to the modern woman now.


On if she had to compare herself to another singer, who would she most sound like…


Nobody and that’s why I haven’t given up because in this business you may be like 3 times a day “I want to quit.” I’m like, “F this I don’t feel like doing this. I don’t want to do this.” I have to remember there are girls like you that has nobody to talk for them. It’s hard to put into words but because I don’t have a major label telling me what to do and because I come from an environment where we’re allowed to freely express ourselves  and be who we want and do what we want. Like I said, I wasn’t programmed to be in the music industry. I’m a regular girl. I didn’t come from the best neighborhood. I didn’t come from the best of anything. I’m speaking for girls like me that don’t necessarily see it for the glitz and glamour. But we still go through relationship problems and they still want to hear some music about it. I feel like I bring that to the table.   I feel like there is no Mary J around anymore.


I feel like, everything, all R&B leads into POP and that’s just the natural segway. But then they forget about the people who don’t want to turn up and listen to POP, they want to listen to real music. I think there is a lane for that and I think there are girls waiting for some girls to talk for them. I’m a Tomboy…you know more than I am a girly girl. Especially right now, it’s so many women and we’re not all reserved and quite. We’re like in our sweats and our J’s and we turn up with the guys. We smoke. We drink. And it’s nobody to talk for them. So there is no one I can compare myself to.


Even as far as looks, you know in the music industry they want you to look a certain way, act a certain way and I’m just like, “Listen!” Everybody from where I’m from don’t look like that they look like me and we do things this way. I believe that I don’t have to conform to what’s on TV when there is a million and one people in the world that look like me. Who’s more relatable the one percent you see on TV or the ninety percent you see every day you know living.


On what she listens to and her Top 5 female artists…


Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Sade, Mary, Aaliyah, and Billy Holiday. There are so many people I could name. I listen to everything. But then, when I would like to get ratchet, I’ll listen to my rap music. Which I’m sure you’re from Atlanta you know the Migos, Rich Homie Quan. I think on my flight here I listened to the whole Migos mixtape. My whole music preference is pretty wide.


On the best advice her mom gave her…


The best thing and my mom just told me this from the very beginning and I just told someone else this so keep your eyes open and your mouth and your legs closed. And that right there will get you a long way because you have to be firm as a women. Every guy you come in contact with thinks your flirting with them just automatically. You could ask for anything and he thinks you’re flirting with him. So just keep your head focused on what you’re here to do and don’t let nobody boss you around. Don’t let nobody walk over you. Don’t let nobody short you because you’re a girl. There are things I have to fight for because I’m in a group with a bunch of guys everyday like makeup, hair, and dressing room. Sometimes I feel I shouldn’t ask for that. I’m not Beyoncé I know. But know, if you’re good at what you do, and you know you are good at what you do and you have people validating you’re good at what you do – and you demand respect, until you get it.


On what artists should do financially or business-wise…


As far as financial advice, just make sure you have a great team. I spent my whole advance on a lawyer and didn’t care because the best lawyer is going to determine from the start to the finish what your career is going to be. Just make sure you have a good lawyer. Don’t be afraid to ask your lawyer questions. Don’t be afraid to question anything. My lawyer gets mad at me because I ask him a million questions. I’m like no I need to be clear if you’re saying this is this and this is this and I need to know what we’re talking about. And just to be true to who you are. I see a lot of girls who get popular within their singing and they forget who they even started for because they get caught up in the red carpet, hair, makeup, and what the blogs are going to say and the picture they took. Look, you are who you are and when you’re in your house or when you’re in your neighborhood ain’t no paparazzi, you’re you. No one is judging you for being you. You just have to remember that don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be like the next person. Just be you! If it’s meant to be its going to be. If it’s not meant to be, it’s not going to be. It’s not going to be a blog that’s going to determine that – it’s you, your work, and GOD and that’s all you really can rely on.


For updates on Courtney Noelle, visit You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @CNBBrand.

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