Esteemed Country Music Journalist & Musician Peter Cooper Dies At Age 52

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The country music community is mourning the death of esteemed journalist and musician Peter Cooper. He was 52 years old.

The Tennessean reports that Cooper died after suffering a head injury from a fall. His family provided the following statement to the publication:

It is with heavy hearts that we let you know that Peter Cooper passed away in his sleep last night, Dec. 6, after suffering a severe head injury late last week. We so appreciate the kind words and prayers you have offered over the past few days. Please know that they have provided Peter and us with much comfort.

Cooper moved to Nashville in 2000, and joined The Tennessean‘s staff as a music writer. He quickly established a reputation “as a brilliant, unmistakable voice in country music criticism.”

Over his 15 years with The Tennessean, Cooper covered major news stories such as George Jones‘ death in 2013 and Johnny Cash‘s death in 2003.

Cooper also wrote and recorded his own music. He released three solo albums and three albums with collaborator Eric Brace.

Together, Cooper and Brace reimagined Tom T. Hall’s 1974 children’s album. The resulting project was titled I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow. It led Cooper and Brace to a Grammy nomination for Best Children’s Album.

Cooper’s last project was 2017’s Profiles in Courage, Frailty and Discomfort.

After leaving The Tennessean in 2014, Cooper went to work at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. He served as the museum’s senior director, producer, and writer up until his death. Cooper also served as the host of the HOF’s podcast Voices In the Hall, and moderated many of the HOF’s events. Most recently, country music fans heard him narrate the video packages used to introduce the newest HOF inductees.

The HOF shared a poignant tribute to Cooper after his passing. They said:

His talents were immense, but his heart was even bigger, and he touched the lives of those he encountered in immeasurable ways. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.”

Cooper was mourned by many artists he bonded with over the years, including Travis Tritt, Lee Ann Womack, and the Oak Ridge Boys. Kenny Chesney spoke withThe Tennessean about Cooper’s death:

Peter Cooper loved life, songs, stories and dreamers. Love to his family and many friends at this difficult time. Somehow I think he’s already got his guitar out, playing one of his favorite Seldom Scene songs.”

Bill Anderson shared a heartfelt tribute to Cooper on social media. He wrote:

I had spoken with him about 40-minutes before his fall, and we had planned to go to church together on Sunday and out to eat with a group of friends following the service. The last thing I told him before I hung up the phone was that I loved him…which I did.”

According to The Tennessean, Cooper’s family asked that “In lieu of flowers…donations be made to either the Baker Cooper fund to support Peter’s son’s education, or the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, supporting their cultural organization’s educational mission.”

Donations can be mailed to the following addresses:

For the Baker Cooper Fund

Baker Cooper
c/o Wells Fargo Bank
1712 West End Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203

For the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

22 Rep. John Lewis Way South
Nashville, TN 37203

Anderson shared a message from Cooper’s family in his post, which says a celebration of life will be held to honor Cooper in 2023. Details concerning the ceremony will soon be announced.

Our hearts and prayers go out to Cooper’s loved ones and friends during this difficult time. May he rest in peace.