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Paula Cole Biography

Home > Music > C > Cole, Paula > Biography

Born: 1968/04/05
Birth Place: Rockport, Massachusetts, U.S.
Years Active: 1992–present
Genres: Adult Contemporary, Pop Rock, Experimental Music, Art Rock

Paula Cole (born April 5, 1968) is an American singer-songwriter. Cole was raised in Rockport, Massachusetts and she attended Rockport High School, where she was president of her senior class and performed in school theatrical productions. Cole then attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she studied jazz singing and improvisation. She was offered a record deal by a jazz label, but decided to turn it down.

Cole's big break came when she landed a slot on Peter Gabriel's 1993-1994 Secret World Live tour, as an additional singer. Shortly thereafter, Cole signed with Imago Records and released her debut album, “Harbinger” in 1994. A year later when Imago went out of business, Cole signed within Warner Bros. Records.

1996 saw Cole's second album, “This Fire,” with the lead track, "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" becoming an overnight smash hit, reaching #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. Cole followed up with another hit single, "I Don't Want to Wait," which peaked at #11 on Billboard's Pop Singles Chart due in part to the songs mass appeal as the theme song for the hit teen drama, “Dawson's Creek.” 1997 saw Cole nominated for a number of Grammy awards, including Producer of the Year and winning Best New Artist.

Cole took the next few years off to focus on raising her family and returned to the music world in 1999 with the album, “Amen.” The album saw a slight musical departure for Cole from her typical pop roots and showcased an R&B and hip-hop influence. The album was not a commercial success.

2007 marked her fourth studio album “Courage” which was issued on Decca Records. 2010 saw the release of her next album, “Ithaca, ” on which she wrote and co-produced all of the tracks.

Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, her next album, “Raven,” was released in April 2013. Cole wrote the 11 songs on the album including two from early in her career, “Imaginary Man” and “Manitoba.” Her mother had saved these songs on cassette tapes. Most of the album was recorded in one week at a barn in Massachusetts. The musicians included co-producer/drummer Ben Wittman, guitarist Kevin Barry and bassist Tony Levin.