Not many 20-year-old college students are juggling full-time careers while pursuing their education. But, that is exactly what Caroline Bailey Coats, a sophomore majoring in marketing at The University of Alabama, is doing.
Coats, a Birmingham native on a Presidential Scholarship, is an emerging pop music artist who most recently gave the headline performance at the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, California, Jan. 5-8, singing her original song “American Girl.”
“I sent the song ‘American Girl’ to their marketing team, and they loved it and gave me the honor and privilege of singing it during the final women’s competition, a four-song set between the couples competition and men’s competition,” she said. “It was so much fun.
“There was an event called Skating Spectacular, which featured all the new Olympians, and they had a choreographed ice skate to my song while I performed it live. Kristi Yamaguchi was one of the skaters who performed to my song. I got to meet her and the rest of the crew. This is something I’ll absolutely never forget.”
Coats, who was listed as a “Top 8 Emerging Artists of 2015” by Kings of A&R, has been singing since she was 13. But even before she wanted to sing she wanted to attend UA.
“Growing up, I’ve always been a huge Alabama fan,” she said. “My sister and I have pictures of us as little girls in Alabama cheerleading uniforms. When making my choice for college I wanted one that offered opportunities to just be a normal college kid and also to excel in my academics. Alabama offered that.
“I think being at Alabama makes me a better person overall, because I get the incredible opportunity to meet all these different types of people on campus.” Caroline Bailey Coats
Coats started her education at UA as a chemical engineering major, but as her music career grew it started to affect her class schedule.
After taking a STEM class, she was exposed to marketing and fell in love with it, changing her major to it with a specialization in new venture creation, which is marketing with an entrepreneurship component.
“I am specializing in that so I can work it into my music career. I currently am an independent artist.”
Coats’ pursuit of becoming a professional singer started when she was told she wasn’t the best singer at a music convention in Los Angeles in 2011.
The rejection only fueled her motivation and her desire to prove wrong people who doubt her.
“That competition was a good way to show me that the industry wasn’t all glitz and glam. That there was grit, hard work and determination involved.”
Though she’s technically broken into the professional music industry, Coats said she’s still a long way from where she wants to be.
“I think everyone has different goals in the music industry, but I would love to headline my own world tour one day and have five albums by the time I’m 30. I would like to win Grammys, and also I want to remain relatable.
“I want to be authentic because if you’re not authentic people will see right through you. I feel like if you don’t use your passion in your life to help people in any kind of way, you’re not using it right.”
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.