Come for the music, stay for the education: CMT’s free Courtney Cole concert in Reserve showcases local career opportunities

Published 12:09 am Saturday, March 10, 2018

RESERVE — Lucia Folk has been in front of a concert audience on numerous occasions, facing a difficult task: Convince a bunch a music fans that education should be on their minds.

She’ll be tackling that same challenge next week in Reserve.

As vice president of public affairs at Country Music Television (CMT), Folk is part of the leadership team driving the channel’s first statewide Empowering Education tour.

The event is highlighted by a free concert starting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday open to the public on the grounds of River Parishes Community College, Reserve Campus.

Headlined by country music star and Louisiana native Courtney Cole, the event plans to be as informative as it is entertaining.

Folk, who will be on stage as part of the welcoming committee, is used to addressing people who think going to college isn’t for them because of time or money concerns.

That is where she taps into two things CMT does well — music and television.

“Yes, it is hard and there are some stumbling blocks but community colleges are a well-run machine to help with people who need extra help,” Folk said. “They are very flexible and connected to workforce development opportunities.”

All concert activities are free to the public, and dinner will be served. The event kicks off with a 4 p.m. showcase for River Region industry representatives to discuss career opportunities.

Campus Dean Penelope Shumaker said those considering attending River Parishes Community College in Reserve have an opportunity to win a $500 scholarship just by attending the industry showcase. Ten such scholarships will be given away for either the Summer 2018, Fall 2018 or Spring 2019 semesters.

“The Reserve campus will now be offering the Louisiana transfer degree,” Shumaker said. “Take all of the basic and pre-requisite classes, then transfer to a four-year university for the final two years.”

CMT has performed similar one-off education shows in rural markets with Cole, often seeing enrollment at the local school increase because audience members were inspired by the local stories.

That success and a partnership with Louisiana Calling and Louisiana Community and Technical Colleges System led to an eight-date tour across Louisiana colleges.

“Sometimes, it’s just getting people on the campus,” Folk said. “You might have lived somewhere for years and never been on the campus to realize it is a welcoming place that has the ability to work around your schedule. That is a huge first step.”

As the headliner, Cole brings it all together.

The Belmont University graduate was encouraged from a young age by her parents to seek a diploma.

“I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything besides music, because that is what I love,” she said.

“It was important to get my education, and it was a huge factor in where I am in my career. If it would not have been for the opportunity of internships through school, I would not have had my first publishing deal, which launched me into everything I have done up until this point.”

Learn more about Cole’s music, at

Learn more about the concert and River Parishes Community College at