Imani Coppola

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Imani Coppola
Imani Coppola Milan Concert.jpg
Coppola in concert with Peeping Tom, Milan in November 2006.
Background information
Birth name Imani Francesca Coppola
Born (1978-04-06) April 6, 1978 (age 39)
Origin New York City, United States
Genres Alternative rock, pop, alternative hip hop
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals, violin, acoustic guitar, keyboard
Years active 1997–present
Associated acts Little Jackie

Imani Francesca Coppola (born April 6, 1978) is an American singer-songwriter and violinist probably best known for her 1997 hit "Legend of a Cowgirl", which sampled the instrumentals from "Sunshine Superman" by Donovan. In 2008, Coppola returned as half of the pop duo Little Jackie, with a hit single "The World Should Revolve Around Me".

Early life and education[edit]

Coppola grew up as the second-youngest of five children in Long Island, New York.[1] Coppola's lower-income family, headed by a black mother and Italian father,[2] did not fit in, and she and her family were picked on.[3][4] Her circumstances encouraged her independence and also her creativity, as her family, who received welfare,[5] had little money to pay for entertainment.[4] Her mother, a teacher, was the primary income earner, while her carpenter father was often out of work and refused to earn an income from his art.[5]

Coppola grew up surrounded by music, as her father is a jazz musician, her mother plays bass, and all of her brothers and sisters are musically inclined.[2][6] She says her first musical memory is of her father, who was her biggest musical influence, playing the song "Bessie's Blues" "on a severely out of tune piano."[7] She began playing violin at the age of six, eventually studying studio composition at the State University of New York at Purchase.[2][8] She was not happy and left after one year,[3] but during her time at Purchase, she made some demos and passed them on to her older sister Maya, who is a singer-songwriter in the music business.[8] Maya gave them to her boyfriend, music publisher Ross Elliot, who got Coppola together with producer Michael Mangini at Digable Planets.[8] While still in college, Coppola cut three demo tracks with Digable that resulted in a bidding war for the artist among other studios.[6][8] Coppola accepted a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1997.[8]

Columbia contract[edit]

Coppola's debut album, Chupacabra, was released in 1997. The album was critically well-reviewed in The New York Times, where Ann Powers described it as buoyed by "fanciful raps and supple vocals."[9] Among the album's tracks, the song "Legend of a Cowgirl" became a video hit on MTV.[10]

Coppola sings at a show in Milan in November 2007.

In 1998, Coppola played Lilith Fair, although she was vocal about her opinion of Lilith founder Sarah McLachlan before the tour, indicating that she felt McLachlan was "boring to watch live".[11] "I think she's a good songwriter, at times, and singer. She's boring to watch live, though," said Coppola.[11] " In 2000, she teamed with the Baha Men for the European and Australian Top 10 hit "You All Dat".

Columbia Records dropped her in 2000, subsequently shelving her second studio album, Come and Get Me... What?!. Coppola had been frustrated by the music studio's desire for her to sample other artists when she wanted to compose her music entirely herself.[12] Then 22, Coppola felt she needed to learn considerably more about music and art.[12] Never having performed beyond high school musical theater, Coppola felt she had achieved success too easily, without truly working for it.[12]

Independent career[edit]

Without a major label behind her, Coppola started recording music at home in 2001; also in 2001, Coppola was part of the band supporting Sandra Bernhard in her off-Broadway production of The Love Machine.[13] She released two albums, Post Traumatic Pop Syndrome and Little Red Fighting Mood the following year through independent distribution. During this time, Coppola also starred in the movie The Singing Biologist playing a smart and witty New York cafe singer looking for something new to bring to her band. By 2004, Coppola was playing acoustic guitar in small clubs like Forum in New York City with her drummer Alex Elana, in the Two Shadow Posse.[14] According to Coppola, these events were not well-attended, and she hated performing at them.[14]

In 2005, she launched her own website (created by a fan) and also opened an online music store where she released the shelved Come and Get Me... What?! as well as two new albums, Small Thunder and The Vocal Stylings of Imani Coppola. Also in 2005, she wrote and performed the song "Freedom Come" for the independent film On the Outs and co-wrote Maia Sharp's single "Fine Upstanding Citizen". In 2006 she contributed two of her own songs, "Woodstock" and "Fake Is The New Real", and arranged all of the strings for artist Alice Smith's debut album For Lovers, Dreamers and Me. She can also be heard singing back up vocals and playing strings on several songs of the album.[citation needed]

Coppola sings at a show on tour with Mike Patton's Peeping Tom at the Detour Festival in October 2006.

In 2006, she released a free skit album, Audio Blahgs. On May 26, 2006, Coppola performed with Peeping Tom on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Subsequently, she went on tour with the band, providing both vocals and violin. During this tour, Imani has performed songs from her The Black & White Album.[citation needed] In an interview with Erin Broadley in November, 2007, Coppola indicated that she had enjoyed the experience of working with Patton and other artists, which she found artistically open.[15]

Coppola's eighth studio album, The Black & White Album, was released digitally on January 14, 2007, and released through Ipecac Recordings on October 30, 2007. Bill Braun wrote in Amplifer Magazine in November 2007 that Coppola's The Black and White Album has an organic nature that reflects America's diversity.[12] The Globe and Mail wrote that The Black and White Album is a "brutally honest album that's fun to hear."[16] Bret McCabe wrote in the New York Sun on November 13, 2007, that in The Black and White Album, Coppola mixed musical genres like Brazilian pop wizard Tom Zé.[17]

In November, 2007, Coppola said in interview that she was unsure if she was going to tour to support The Black & White Album, citing financial concerns.[15] She said, "I don’t even have a car. I don’t know, I would love to put together at least one banging show together for this album. Definitely, it deserves that."[15]

In 2011, Imani released a new single, titled "Over It." The song also had an animated, high-budget video and was included on Coppola's 2010 EP Imani's Magic Chicken Soup found on Reverbnation.[18][19]

In 2012, the first single from "The Glass Wall" was released: a trance-club song titled "State Of The Art."

In 2015, Coppola collaborated with Blackalicious on "The Sun," which The A.V. Club described as "a shimmery, vibrant slice of early ’90s rap-pop that soars on a glowing chorus by Imani Coppola."[20]

On July 21, 2017, Coppola premiered a new single, "Just Feels Good," via Yahoo! Music. The song, which Coppola had originally written for Rachel Platten, was released as the lead single from Hypocrites, Coppola's new album, released on the same day as the single premiered.[21]

Little Jackie[edit]

In 2007, Coppola was signed to S-Curve Records as part of the band Little Jackie, with whom she collaborated with producer and multi-instrumentalist Adam Pallin. Coppola sees Little Jackie as an opportunity to get back into pop and also to generate the income she needs to follow her dream of developing artists herself.[22] She indicates that "genre-bending acts" like Gnarls Barkley have enabled her to return to the music industry through this venture.[5]

Speaking in July 2008 to noted UK R&B writer Pete Lewis of the award-winning Blues & Soul, Coppola stated: "Whereas, in my opinion, Imani Coppola is a REAL artist, Little Jackie represents my 'POPULAR artist' side... And to me this is probably my last attempt at becoming a superstar! If it blows up — WONDERFUL! If I become a superstar — FANTASTIC!... And if I don't, I guess I'll stay very happy just being a crazy-lady artist — making art every day and having that be my food!"[23]

The group has released three albums. Their first was The Stoop,[24] which launched the hit single "The World Should Revolve Around Me" and received rave reviews from critics.[25][26] In 2011, Little Jackie released their second album MADE4TV. Their third album Queen of Prospect Park, released on 30 September 2014, featured music that appeared in I Don't Know How She Does It and Grey's Anatomy.[27]

Songwriting and artistic vision[edit]

Coppola says her songwriting is fused through a pop sensibility, within which she exercises her creativity and individuality.[12] She indicates that her tastes and musical influences are diverse,[15] including classical,[22] which she acknowledges can be a problem in an industry that wants its artists to be clearly defined.[15] Coppola decided to write in whatever genre she wanted.[15] She describes her focus on The Black and White Album as "more experimental, more punk, more rock."[22] Coppola also incorporates theater into her performance with her visual creativity, donning different wigs or makeup during performances.[8]

Coppola uses a different process when she is songwriting for herself from when she is songwriting for another artist or writing on speculation.[15] She says, "My brain changes, my thought processes, my body language changes, the way I work changes....; When you do work for other artists, it’s definitely more of a job and it requires a lot of tools."[15]

Coppola in performance attire

Among her career goals, she hopes to produce and develop other artists.[22] In 2016, Coppola co-wrote Hailey Knox's debut single, "Geeks," which was praised by Meghan Trainor;[28] Coppola also wrote another of Knox's songs, "Awkward," with Michael Mangini, whom she had previously worked with on her debut album and in Little Jackie.[29]

Personal life[edit]

Coppola lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant. A private person, she also admits to struggling with the modern demands for artist accessibility in the music world, with such demands as online interviews and video blogs.[30] In making choices in her own life, she has stated that she is torn between respect and resentment at the legacy left by her parents,[15] explaining, "My parents are both artists and we starved, we went through a lot of difficulty growing up because of their choices in life... When it comes down to making important decisions about my life and my foundation, you know, their artistic side haunts me. Like maybe I should just do what they did."[15]



  • Chupacabra (October 28, 1997) - Released on Columbia Records – #128 UK[31]
  • Come and Get Me... What?! (2000) - Self-release
  • Post Traumatic Pop Syndrome (April 6, 2002) - Self-release
  • Little Red Fighting Mood (October 6, 2002) - Self-release
  • Afrodite (January 1, 2004) - Released on Mental Records
  • Small Thunder (2005) - Self-release
  • The Vocal Stylings Of Imani Coppola (2005) - Self-release
  • Audio Blahgs (2006) - Free Download
  • The Black & White Album (January 14, 2007) - Self-release & Ipecac Recordings (November 6, 2007)
  • Free Spirit (January 25, 2010) - Free download
  • Imani's Magic Chicken Soup EP (2011)
  • The Glass Wall (2012)
  • Hypocrites (2017)


  • "Legend of a Cowgirl" (1997) - Chupacabra - #36 US,[32] #55 AUS,[33] #50 BEL (FLA),[34] #94 GER,[35] #65 NED,[36] #20 NZ,[37] #32 UK[38]
  • "I'm a Tree" (1997) - Chupacabra - #201 AUS[39]
  • "It's All About Me, Me, Me" (1997) - Chupacabra
  • "Count to 10" (2000) Come and Get Me...What!
  • "Woodstock" (2002) - Little Red Fighting Mood
  • "Shot My Lover Dead" (2002) - Little Red Fighting Mood
  • "These Days" (2004) - Afrodite
  • "Gravity" (2004) - Afrodite
  • "Woke Up White" (2007) - The Black & White Album
  • "Springtime" (2007) - The Black & White Album
  • "I Love Your Hair" (2007) - The Black & White Album
  • "Pay Me Back Bitch" (2010)
  • "Mama Gotta Work Out" (2010)
  • "Over It" (2011) - Imani's Magic Chicken Soup EP
  • "State of the Art" (2012) - The Glass Wall
  • "The Kids Are Dangerous" (2012) - The Glass Wall
  • "Ave Maria" (2012) - The Glass Wall
  • "Just Feels Good" (2017) - Hypocrites


  • "Brand New Day" (2009 cover) (from Sting's 1999 solo album of the same name) performed for Chase Bank.

Little Jackie albums[edit]

Little Jackie singles[edit]

  • "The World Should Revolve Around Me" (2008) - UK #14[41]
  • "The Stoop" (2008) (Released October 27, 2008) - #DNC UK
  • "Take Back The World" (2011) (Released September 30, 2011) - Plush Moon Records/TuneCore


  1. ^ Elysa Gardner, "She's a Rainbow," "Los Angeles Times," January 25, 1998
  2. ^ a b c "Gracenote. "Imani Coppola Biography"". 1978-04-14. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  3. ^ a b Associated Press. "Imani Coppola: Eclectic talents, eclectic album" by Nekesa Mumbi Moody. 1998.
  4. ^ a b Los Angeles Daily News. "Singer-Rapper Coppola takes her shot" by Fred Shuster. January 20, 1998.
  5. ^ a b c Times Online. "The crazy, sexy, cool Imani Coppola of Little Jackie" by Lisa Verrico. August 10, 2008. Archived June 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ a b matt on Tue, Dec 11, 07, at 3:12pm. "Time Out. "Loose canon" by Steve Smith. November 8, 2007". Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  7. ^ "Amplifier Magazine. " Artist Driven: 11 Questions with Imani Coppola"". Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Los Angeles Times. "She's a Rainbow; Imani Coppola makes a splash with her sunny pastiche that sends pop, hip-hop and jazz through a psychedelic spinner." January 25, 1009.
  9. ^ Powers, Ann (1997-11-04). "New York Times. "Pop CD's; Take a Little Sass, Add Sunshine" by Ann Powers. November 4, 1997". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  10. ^ "All Music Guide to Hip-Hop: The Definitive Guide to Rap and Hip-Hop" By Vladimir Bogdanov. Published 2003 by Backbeat Books
  11. ^ a b Toronto Sun. "Singer/violinist Imani strikes gold without even trying" by Jane Stevenson. December 11, 1997.
  12. ^ a b c d e "Amplifier Magazine. "Imani Coppola: Unique Formula." November20. 2007.". Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  13. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (2001-01-16). "New York Times. "Has Bernhard Turned Tame? She's Still Here, Gosh Darn It" by Neil Genzlinger. January 16, 2001". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  14. ^ a b Nichols, Sharon. "Chronogram. "The Faith of Afrodite" by Sharon Nichols. December, 2004". Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Broadley, Erin (2007-11-06). "Suicide Girls. "Imani Coppola" interviewed by Erin Broadley. November 7, 2007". Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  16. ^ The Globe and Mail. "Brutal honesty and bouncy fun" November 20, 2007.
  17. ^ The New York Sun. "Right There In Black & White" by Bret McCabe. November 13, 2007.
  18. ^ ""Over It" High-Definition Video". YouTube. Retrieved 2 September 2017. 
  19. ^ "imani's magic chicken soup overview". Reverbnation. eMinor, Inc. Retrieved 2 September 2017. 
  20. ^ Mincher, Chris. "Back after 10 years, Blackalicious brings fresh production and perspective". The A.V. Club. Onion Inc. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  21. ^ Geller, Wendy. "Video Premiere: Imani Coppola Debuts 'Just Feels Good'". Yahoo! Music. Yahoo. Retrieved 2 September 2017. 
  22. ^ a b c d "Glasgow Sunday Mail. "World set to revolve around Little Jackie" edited by Mickey Mcmonagle and Heather Greenaway. July 27". 2008-07-27. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  23. ^ "Little Jackie interview by Pete Lewis, 'Blues & Soul' August 2008". Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  24. ^ The Stoop at AllMusic
  25. ^ The Stoop, Billboard Singles at AllMusic
  26. ^ Little Jackie, "The World Should Revolve Around Me" Retrieved 2008-09-20.
  27. ^ Petersen, Eric. "Little Jackie’s The Queen of Prospect Park out today!". Rust. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  28. ^ Wass, Mike. "Hailey Knox Drops Meghan Trainor-Approved Debut Single “Geeks”". Idolator. Hive Media. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  29. ^ Ceron, Ella. "Hailey Knox's "Awkward" Music Video Is Here". Teen Vogue. Conde Nast. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  30. ^ "Glasgow Sunday Mail. "Showbiz Is Blog Awful" by Mickey Mcmonagle. August 24, 2008". 2008-08-24. Archived from the original on 2008-09-17. Retrieved 2016-01-18. 
  31. ^ "Chart Log UK 1994–2010 > Chris C. – CZR". Archived from the original on 2012-05-07. Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  32. ^ "Billboard > Artists / Imani Coppola > Chart History > The Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-01-18. 
  33. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. 
  34. ^ "Imani Coppola in Ultratop Vlaanderen" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  35. ^ "Offizielle Deutsche Charts > Imani Coppola – Legend of a Cowgirl (single)" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  36. ^ " > Imani Coppola in Dutch Charts" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  37. ^ " > Imani Coppola in New Zealand Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  38. ^ "Official Charts > Imani Coppola". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  39. ^ "Response from ARIA re: chart inquiry, received 2015-06-05". Imgur. Archived from the original on 2015-06-05. Retrieved 2016-01-18. 
  40. ^ "The Official Album Chart for the week ending 13 September 2008". ChartsPlus. Milton Keynes: IQ Ware Ltd (368): 5–8. 
  41. ^ "The Official Singles Chart for the week ending 13 September 2008". ChartsPlus. Milton Keynes: IQ Ware Ltd (368): 1–4. 

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