Erie singer-songwriter Amber 'Cookie' Otto advances in national music competition

·3 min read

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to fix the spelling of Otto's maiden name and the venue where she opened for Aaron Tippin.

Amber Otto began singing to friends and family at age 5. She tried her hand at songwriting at 9. Later, she performed in a blues band and, as a solo artist, opened for country music legend Aaron Tippin at Betts Park in Warren, and for other acts like Kool & The Gang and Lil Scrappy. She also sang before a NASCAR race in Watkins Glen.

Now Otto, 36, an Erie resident, hopes to take her talents to the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

Otto, who performs under the stage name "Cookie" — a nickname derived from her maiden name "Cooke" — is trying to advance to the quarterfinals of Audacy's Opening Act competition to play before a star-studded lineup and for a $10,000 cash prize.

Otto had to apply to be entered into the competition by submitting videos and digital music of her performances.

"That in and of itself to me was a feat because it's like, holy cow, somebody out there in the world, in the big, old world of California, thought that I was good enough to enter into this competition," Otto said.

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A Spring Creek, Warren County native, Otto says her music is influenced by a range of genres: country, soul, blues, Motown and pop, though most of her lyrics are in the vein of country music. She told Audacy that the artist she'd most like to collaborate with is Shania Twain.

Otto is a self-taught guitarist, who learned by ear in 2017 and has since received professional training. She also occasionally plays the keyboard.

Audacy, formerly, is a "multi-platform audio content and entertainment company." It has yet to announce the date or lineup for its We Can Survive concert, which benefits the American Society of Suicide Prevention, but the Oct. 23, 2021, show lineup featured the Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay, Doja Cat, Maroon 5, Saweetie, Shawn Mendes and Kid Laroi.

Otto, who works as an in-home personal care assistant, found out about the competition from an ad on social media.

"It kind of pulled my interest because it said if you're a singer or songwriter and trying to get your music out there, enter the competition and if you're selected as the opening act, then you'd have the chance to open at the Hollywood Bowl, which is out in LA and it's their big amphitheater stage right in front of that Hollywood sign," she said. "I was like, 'oh my God, that would be an amazing opportunity.' I am a singer-songwriter and that would be an even better way to get my music out that far, to have that much of a reach."

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Cookie's music is available on most streaming platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Music, ReverbNation, SoundCloud, Spotify and YouTube. In fact, her music has been "playlisted" on ReverbNation and Spotify, meaning the platforms have included her music in playlists that they've recommended to listeners.

To advance, Cookie needs the votes of fans. She's already advanced through four rounds. To vote for Cookie, go to her Opening Act page at Voting in the current round ends at 11 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time) Thursday.

If she wins, Otto said she'll use the $10,000 prize to pay off a car loan and other small debt and then buy new music and recording equipment.

"That's not even like the main reason why I want to do this," she said about the prize money. "I know I have it in me to do this. It would be an even more amazing opportunity to be on a stage like that in front of so many different people, to expose who you are as well as what your music is and what it represents for you."

Vote for Cookie

This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Erie singer hopes to win music contest, perform at Hollywood Bowl