Naomi Cooke is going solo. After spending seven years as the lead singer of Runaway June, Cooke has taken to social media to announce that she is parting ways with the band to begin a new venture as a solo artist.
“I am incredibly excited to officially be able to announce that I am taking a new musical journey as a solo artist,” Cooke wrote on her personal Instagram page on Wednesday (Feb. 23), alongside a photo that shows her standing onstage alone with her back facing the camera. “I am beyond excited to share new stories and music with you.”
Cooke went on to say that while she will miss her bandmates, which include Jennifer Wayne, Natalie Stovall, and former Runaway June member Hannah Mulholland, she is looking forward to her next chapter and sharing more with her fans in the upcoming months.
“It has been 7 wonderful years as the lead singer of Runaway June, and I am so grateful for the memories and time well spent with my bandmates, Hannah, Jen, and Natalie,” she shared. “It has been extremely hard to keep quiet about what I’ve been up to, and I cannot wait to share everything with you all very soon!! I miss you guys so much and can’t wait to see y’all out on the road. I love you guys so much I could burst.”
At this point, Runaway June has not indicated whether or not they will find a replacement for Cooke. Wayne (who is expecting a baby girl in April of 2022) and Stovall also haven’t yet commented on the news surrounding Cooke’s exit. But, fans and fellow rising country artists did congratulate the frontwoman online, sharing numerous heart and high-five emojis.
This isn’t the first time a member of Runaway June has chosen to step back from the band. In 2020, Mulholland, the trio’s harmony vocalist and mandolin player, announced she was leaving the group after five years. A day later, it was revealed that Stovall, previously of Natalie Stovall and the Drive, would be her replacement.
Cooke co-founded Runaway June in 2015 with Wayne and Mulholland. After signing with BBR Music Group’s Wheelhouse Records, the band made waves with top 40 hits “Lipstick” and “Wild West.” In 2019, Runaway June made history with “Buy My Own Drinks,” a song included on their 2018 EP and 2019 debut album, Blue Roses. The track climbed into the Top 10 on Billboard’s Country Airplay charts, marking a first for an all-female group since 2005.
The group’s latest project, a rootsy EP titled Backstory, was released in the fall of 2021 and features songs “Forgot About That,” “Down The Middle,” and “T-Shirt.”