Artist Talkback: Paula Cole

Brilliantly fierce vocals combined with poetic and profound lyrics set her apart from the rest. A multiple Grammy nominee and winner, Cole’s classic hits from the 90’s made her famous, while her soulful artistry and emotionally vulnerable and intense performances keep her in the upper echelon of musicians. Cole’s latest release, "Raven," was released in April 2013 and has received wide critical acclaim.

In this exclusive interview, Cole discusses the music that has shaped her as a musician and what she loves to perform. Get more information and tickets to the 9/20 show sponsored by Bernardi Auto Group.

Q. What inspired you to enter the music business? Were there any artists who shaped the artist that you’ve become?

A. I pursued music as a passion, as an art. Pursuing the business came later after graduating from Berklee College of Music. That transition is more like a trust-fall as you stumble to your dream.

Some of the artists that have been profoundly influential to me are the following:

Singers:  Aretha Franklin (as a piano player, too), Nat King Cole (and another brilliant piano player), Annie Lennox (those early Eurythmics albums helped me see my path), Chet Baker (for some years I wanted to be a female Chet Baker, improvising inside those chord changes so beautifully), Sarah Vaughn (loved her pitch and improvising), Chaka Khan (unbridled Aries fire), Ella (her singing is like laughter and there is possibly no better vocal improviser ever). 

Singer-Songwriters (true artists): John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, Peter Gabriel, Dolly Parton, Kate Bush, Bob Marley, Carole King, Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye, Neil Young, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon. These are greats. I'm still worshipping at their altars here.

And it's important for me to acknowledge Miles Davis for being so true to himself, keeping it simple, playing compositionally, and forming groundbreaking bands who changed music.

Q. Who are you listening to these days?

A. Lately I'm back to listening to some jazz. Sometimes when I don't know what to listen to, I go back to jazz and sometimes world music. Nat King Cole - what a profound soul. I'm loving him right now.

Q. We are so excited to have you back at TCAN, this will be your fourth time! What is your favorite thing about performing at TCAN? Is there anything that makes the venue unique for you?

A. I have great shows at TCAN! Just lovely, loving folks there. They are the best thing about performing there! Even when our sound engineer was stranded by a snowstorm in New Jersey, you TCAN folks came to our rescue! We love you!

Q. If you weren’t a musician, what other occupation would you have?

A. That is very difficult to answer: I'd be a different person had I not chosen music. Music has helped me tremendously, I'm so grateful for living a life in music. I loved science and was curious about life sciences. My father was a professor of biology and ecology. I imagine I would've gone that route. I would have lived quite a different life!

Q. What inspired your latest album, Raven?

A. Raven simply needed to be born. Sometimes you don't know how you come to be pregnant with a particular album, it just gets born! Raven was a natural love child.

Q. Do you have a favorite song to perform? How about covers, any songs you love to sing that aren’t your own?

A. I love my tragic overly important ballads and I love my rockers. They are both transformational to perform. As for covers, lately I love to perform "Walk On By" by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.