By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Paula Cole is tired of the negativity in the current sociopolitical climate. So, she’s starting a revolution on September 13.
“‘Revolution’ is about breaking silence,” says Cole about her forthcoming 10th full-length album.
“At its core lie signature, highly personal songs. ‘Revolution’ is mostly about inner revolution, breaking silence and finding a way through these times with love in our hearts.”
Cole premiered the songs “Hope is Everywhere,” a bonus track on the vinyl edition of “Revolution.”
“‘Hope Is Everywhere’ was a totally unplanned stream-of-consciousness creation,” Cole explains.
“It begins as a slow R&B groove that explodes into a dance groove that can only be described as what I’m calling ‘prog disco.’ It is funky and makes you want to dance. Lyrically it is a message to those who are experiencing undue discrimination, intimidation and legal abuse in our current political climate. Specifically, the LGBTQ community. I want people to know that I am right here loving and supporting them. And if we get depressed and don’t act or vote, the intimidators win. ‘Hope Is Everywhere’ is a call to arms and it is ebullient! I hope it will be played in clubs and homes and kitchens and halls, inspiring dance, togetherness, empowerment and joy.”
Cole is bringing her revolution to the Musical Instrument Museum on Wednesday, September 25.
“It’s a stunning venue,” she says. “It’s a real jewel box. We always have great shows there. The acoustics are especially amazing, and the vibe is fantastic. I have cousins in Tucson, so I’m flying in a day early.”
At the show, Cole is focusing on “Revolution” and making fans aware of it.
“It’s like my ‘Amen Part 2,’” says Cole, referring to her 1999 album that featured “Be Somebody” with T-Boz. “It’s me using my artistic voice for a message beyond myself.
“Our civil liberties are being threatened. There’s so much hat. Marvin Gaye was a big influence for me. The ‘What’s Going On’ was a pivotal album for me. It inspired ‘Amen.’ It’s calling on all of us to touch upon our empathy.”
“Revolution” features contributions from a number of acclaimed artists, including Meshell Ndegeocello, vocalists Nona Hendryx (Labelle) and Darcel Wilson and jazz pianist and singer Bob Thompson (of NPR’s “Mountain Stage”).
The title track “Revolution (is a State of Mind)” excerpts Martin Luther King’s speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” delivered at New York’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967.
“I was born the morning after MLK was shot,” she says.
“His death was a part of my life. My mom tells me how she cried together with the African-American OB/GYN nurse before she went under for my C-section. Many of my heroes and champions have been African Americans, and we as a nation have not come to terms with our horrific past and present. I have biracial family members, and I must write and sing about this. I wish a lot more white people would.”
A New England native and daughter of an amateur musician and a visual artist, Cole studied jazz singing at the Berklee College of Music, where she teaches.
A former background singer for Peter Gabriel, Cole won the 1998 Best New Artist Grammy and her sophomore album “This Fire” went double-platinum on the strength of the hit singles “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone” and “I Don’t Want to Wait.” Her most recent album, 2017’s “Ballads,” featured a selection of jazz standards and debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard Jazz Albums Chart.
Cole works to prove a point during her music. With “Revolution,” it’s merely to be vocal.
“We can inspire others to speak,” she says. “This album came on forcefully. I needed to do this before the election year. So maybe it’ll gather some steam.
“Now that I’ve been doing this for 30 years, I’ve noticed it helps other people, too. It’s a mysterious power. I want these songs to help people to feel empowered, people who don’t have power in our society for identity, race, age or gender are made to feel less. I just want to help.” ν