5 Questions: Paula Cole

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5 Questions is a series by Steve Duffy –

Photo by Erica McDonald

Paula Cole started as a jazz singer and now returns, at nearly 50 years of age, to pay homage to her first love of jazz and folk. A self-described “mother and human being first”, Cole is a timeless voice not only in song, but for those who have felt pain and who still stand shining light, against all odds. With a voice that is big, rich and gorgeous, a mind that is intelligent, and a heart that transforms suffering into beauty, Paula Cole sings for our enlightenment, for our souls.

SD: Your latest “Ballads” is a cover album.  Do each of the songs you chose mean something to you?

PC: Absolutely! I recorded 31 songs in 5 days and choose 20 for this album. I wanted lyrics that spoke to me and that didn’t alienate women. If you listen deeply to the words, you can feel the spirit of the women who wrote the songs. 

SD: Having stepped away from the spotlight for some time, what were you most excited about in your return?

PC: My 2 careers have been very different. I am more comfortable in this stage of my career than I was when I was first starting out. The older you get it certainly feels like you have lived a couple of lifetimes. My personal and professional lives are now connected. I am more comfortable being on stage and interacting with the audience.  I was nervous when I came back with “Courage” in 2007. I was feeling a little beat up by life and I needed some comfort. I was most excited about being at it again. My whole being is expressing myself through music.

SD: What does music mean to you?

PC: Its freedom and truth. I find my freedom when I am singing and writing. When I do my job right, I am hoping that others are experiencing the same things as me. Music has always been a profound mystery.  It is amazing how it connects people. It really reaches and touches people like no other art form out there.  

SD: You recently had a milestone birthday, what advice would you give your 24-year-old self had when starting out?

PC: Patience! I would tell her to be more cautious when making decisions and to wait for something better. 

SD: What is it like to be performing in your hometown?

PC: It was trippy when I first started. Now I feel more connected with personal life and professional life. I love seeing people that I know. It’s always difficult to perform for friends and family, so now I use these opportunities to test my new music. 


For more information about Paula, visit www.paulacole.com.  To purchase tickets to see her perform at the Shalin Liu Performance Center August 16th & 17th, visit www.rockportmusic.org

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