Student musician finds calling after ‘American Idol’

After receiving the encouraging words of a stranger, sophomore Colby Cobb decided to pursue his musical calling — all the way to "American Idol." Kalena Reynolds | Staff Writer

By Kalena Reynolds | Staff Writer

From the classrooms of Baylor to the stage of “American Idol,” Houston sophomore Colby Cobb has transformed his life by releasing songs and showcasing his talent at gigs across the country.

Cobb grew up loving music and found it to be his “out” amid a childhood filled with ups and downs. When he was 5 years old, Cobb began playing viola, and he picked up saxophone and guitar in middle school. However, his calling was not always clear.

“I wanted to be a doctor, and it was rooted in wanting to help people,” Cobb said. “And it wasn’t until the summer before I was supposed to go to Baylor that that kind of changed, because I enjoyed music, but I never thought I could actually pursue it.”

While playing a gig in downtown Waco, a random listener left Cobb a note that ultimately changed his trajectory and inspired him to switch majors.

“Here in Waco, someone left me a note with a tip, and the note on the napkin says, ‘Follow your dreams. You can save lives. Do your music or your med-school journey. Go big. Wishing you luck,'” Cobb said. “And it just really, really spoke to me.”

The summer before Cobb came to Baylor, he auditioned for “American Idol” and was sent through to the judges’ rounds. There, Cobb met multiple people who influenced his view of music and helped him feel inspired to write his first full song while on the show.

“I just had this urge to write, and when you do a reality show, they have you talk about your life so much,” Cobb said. “It feels like a drag, and I never used to talk about my life growing up.”

With some advice from a family friend, Cobb finished writing the song, titled it “Make Believe” and performed it on the show.

Tara Matthews, a family friend, met Cobb through his friendship with her daughter and said she quickly noticed his unique gift for music.

“Colby wasn’t 100% confident in his musical abilities, but I could see through all the fear and the self-doubting and all that that he would put on himself,” Matthews said. “I could see how gifted he was.”

While Matthews is well-versed in the music world herself, she has had an inside perspective into Cobb’s growth and how his writing has blossomed through the journey of his artistry.

“His musical abilities just blew up to new levels that I’m not even sure he was sure he could accomplish or become,” Matthews said. “But he has such a gift, and I’m telling you, he has it from the top to the bottom. He can do the creating. He can do the writing. He can come up with the music to go along with it. He is a wonderful lyricist, a wonderful producer, and it has been awesome watching him grow and develop and come into his own.”

Since releasing “Make Believe,” Cobb has released two other songs — both just as vulnerable as the first — titled “Sober” and “Starting Over.”

As Cobb’s music has grown, he has begun doing gigs that he flies to on the weekends while balancing classes. After he graduates, he plans to continue pursuing music and writing.

“I’m going to be doing music forever, whether I’m pursuing it as a career or just writing, because No. 1 it’s for me first, and then for others whenever I release it,” Cobb said. “I’m going to be doing music forever.”

Kalena Reynolds is a sophomore Journalism major from Phoenix, AZ with minors in art history and media management. In her first semester at the Lariat, she is excited to meet new people and continue her love for writing and story telling. Aside from writing, Kalena is also on the equestrian team at Baylor and has a deep love for music and songwriting. After graduation, she plans to go into the music industry.