Born the daughter of musicians in Rockport, Massachusetts, Cole grew up singing for fun; American songbooks, traditional folksongs, Christmas carols, a capella harmonies. While finding kindred spirits in records, she became a fixture in her school musicals, which catapulted her toward a scholarship for the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she studied jazz singing and improvisation.
"I wanted to get inside the chord structure of songs, so that I could improvise inside the changes, " she says. "but it wasn't meant to be. I began writing my own songs, and it took me down another path." While a senior at Berklee, she was offered a deal with a jazz label, but declined. "It came too easily, and I didn't want to be limited just to jazz. Something wasn't quite right. So I continued singing weddings and waitressing as I tried to find my inner songs."
In 1993, Peter Gabriel asked her to join his Secret World Tour, after hearing Cole's Imago debut, Harbinger.
Throughout 1994-6, Cole toured America extensively, building a foundation of support that then embraced her 1997 album This Fire. It became a breakthrough smash yielding the hits, "Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?" and "I Don't Want to Wait" (which was used as the theme song to the hit WB show Dawson's Creek), and the 1997 Grammy win for Best New Artist. In 1999, she released her third, spiritually soul-influenced album Amen.
From today's perspective, she has created her finest album: tender, tough, older, wiser. On Courage Cole steers her way through the manifold experiences of an adult American woman who has seen much, lost much, gained much, and yet has regained her innocence. It feels like the work of a woman who is in the right place at the right time.
Tickets for Paula Cole are available at the Northampton Box Office. 413-586-8686 and online at IHEG.com