• Feature

Women Behind the Music in Cincinnati: Courtney Phenicie

Her name is synonymous with CincyMusic. You’ve read one of her articles or interviews and you’ve probably seen her at a show whether you knew it or not. Courtney Phenicie is the Editor in Chief of CincyMusic and a key player in our local music community. Sharing a love for music, writing, and PR. It was an honor to talk with Courtney about her journey.

You’re the Editor in Chief of CincyMusic, what’s been your favorite part about being one of the driving forces behind it?
I don’t think I have a favorite part of being one of the driving forces behind CincyMusic. I love every aspect. Working so closely with my brothers is the best. You would think working with family would be a nightmare, but we know each other so well that we know when to push one another, give each other sh*t, or give one of us some space. I love the friendships I have formed with so many of our contributors. I truly value being able to nerd out on music with these folks. I love meeting, interviewing, previewing, or reviewing bands whether it’s on a local or national level. We are all people and I love to hear everyone’s story. I also love the long weekends of working music festivals and getting to actually meet people who know and support what we do!

I know you’ve had your hand in other aspects of the industry including PR. How did you get your start in music and how did you get it into the writing and PR side of things?
To be honest, I am not musically inclined what-so-ever. I took saxophone lessons (alto sax) in high school and once I learned how to play the solo from INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart” – I quit. I am a horrible singer, although I can do a fantastic impression of Tracy Chapman, Ani Difranco, or Amy Ray in my car.

I have however been writing since elementary school. I was published “anonymously” in a Chicken Soup book. A teacher from my elementary school nominated my poem, it got picked and it’s out there! (I will never reveal which one as it’s super cheesy) Writing about music or otherwise is a part of my being.

PR is something that just seemed like a natural fit. I was writing about local bands for a number of years on CincyMusic and got frustrated about the coverage they were getting for out of town gigs. I wanted to step in and help out. I also LOVE Cincinnati and want to support events in our city any way that I can.

Do you remember the first interview you ever conducted or show you covered? What was it like?
For CincyMusic, the first interviews I remember conducting are Imagine Dragons and Grouplove (they were on the same day, right after each other). It was insane. I was worried that my phone was not going to record the interview, so I tried to also write everything down while I was talking to them.

What’s been one of the most memorable shows you’ve experienced here in Cincinnati?
That is a tough question. The first time I saw Paul McCartney, was a huge deal for me. I have loved The Beatles since birth. Every time I see Ani Difranco, I fall in love with her all over again. Amy Ray at the old Southgate House, Dolly Parton at Jack’s Casino, Stevie Nicks, Dave Matthews (yep – sorry not sorry, I love him), Elton John, Garth Brooks, Grouplove at Bunbury Music Festival (2012), The National. I really could go on and on.

What I really love is seeing my friends play on stage and watching the crowd fall in love with them. My favorite was when Arlo McKinley & The Lonesome Sound played Bunbury in 2016. They played the river stage and the crowd just kept getting larger and larger until it overflowed onto the sidewalks. That was really special.

What women in music inspire you?
Ani Difranco, Dolly Parton, Stevie Nicks, Amy Ray, Joni Mitchell, Cher… Any woman who makes the music they want to make on their own terms.

As a woman behind the music in Cincinnati, have you ever felt that your gender has hindered your path? If so, how did you overcome it?
At times, while it may have not hindered my path, it may have thrown me off guard. Being mansplained to, talked down to, or someone assuming I am dating someone in the band is the worst. Luckily, I am pretty good at holding my own and can typically dish out what I am served.

What advice would you give to your daughter if she one day decides she wants to get involved in the music industry whether she be an artist or behind the scenes?
I want Josephine to do whatever makes her happy. She really gets a kick out of music now (she is 1), so maybe she can take over CincyMusic with her cousins when we retire! The advice I would give her would to be honest, humble, not to throw others under the bus, treat others as you want to be treated, and to always have fun.