Peter Cooper, an award-winning country music journalist and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter-producer, has died. Cooper died in his sleep on Tuesday, Dec. 6 after suffering "a severe head injury late last week," his family announced in a statement shared with The Tennessean, the outlet for which Cooper worked from 2000 through 2014. He was 52.
In sharing news of his death, Cooper's brother, Chris, remembered him as being "larger than life," adding that "he was the cleverest person in every room. He was the best writer in every room. And he was in rooms with some pretty d- smart people." His family extended their gratitude for "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."
"With heavy hearts, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is saddened to learn of the death of our beloved colleague and friend, Peter Cooper. His talents were immense, but his heart was even bigger. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."— Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (@countrymusichof) December 7, 2022
—Kyle Young, CEO pic.twitter.com/onXvvcRjV8
Cooper's career began in 2000 when he made the move from South Carolina to the country music capital of Nashville, Tennessee, where he began working for The Tennessean as a music writer. He spent a total of 14 years leading the newspaper's country music coverage, writing about everything from Taylor Swift's rise to fame to the death of George Jones, cementing himself as one of the most preeminent journalists covering country music. The Tennessean described his writing as "inspired, enlightening," adding that Cooper "went above and beyond in his work and uncovered unspoken truths." After leaving The Tennessean in 2014, Cooper joined the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum as the museum's senior director, producer, and writer.
Cooper's involvement in country music went further than just his writing career with The Tennessean. Cooper was a Grammy-nominated producer, singer, songwriter and performer. He eventually began writing and recording his own music, and in 2012, "I Love: Tom T. Hall's Songs of Fox Hollow," a multi-artist remake of a famous 1974 children's album by Hall, which he co-produced, was nominated for a Grammy. In total, Cooper had three solo albums and three alongside singer-songwriter Eric Brace. His last release was 2017's "Profiles in Courage, Frailty and Discomfort" with Brace and Thomm Jutz.
Cooper is survived by his son, Baker; ex-wife and partner of 32 years, Charlotte; father, Wiley Cooper; stepmother, Emily Cooper; brother, Chris Cooper; sister-in-law, Jessie Swigger; nephew and niece, Jack Cooper and Madeline Cooper; and stepfather, Al Smuzynski. Cooper's family said a celebration of his life will take place sometime in early 2023. They requested 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.