Grammy winning singer-songwriter Paula Cole will contribute her talents to an event at Guild Hall on Friday, June 30, led by former “Saturday Night Live” bandleader and Hall & Oates lead guitarist G.E. Smith.
Giving audiences a true glimpse behind the music, Mr. Smith will interview both Ms. Cole and folk and country artist Sarah Jarosz while they perform throughout the night.
“A fellow musician and someone on the inside is asking you about your life and your work, and that’s unique,” Ms. Cole said of the event, G.E. Smith Presents Portraits, during a recent phone interview.
Ms. Cole, a breakout artist known for her ’90s hits “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” and “I Don’t Want to Wait,” is no stranger to working with Mr. Smith. Their daughters went to preschool together, she said.
“We both worship at the altar of music, basically,” she said, announcing her excitement for the event. “We keep doing the odd show together and it’s so wonderful. He’s a very soulful and deep musician and also has a brilliant mind.”
Working with Ms. Jarosz—who won Grammys this year for Best Folk Album and Best American Roots Performance—will be a new experience and one she is equally excited about.
“She plays a number of string instruments and I play piano,” Ms. Cole said. “It’ll just be nice to meet another artist who is really a musician.”
Ms. Cole, who noted she will be turning 50 next year, said it will be nice for two generations to perform on stage together.
The event at Guild Hall is only the first of many engagements Ms. Cole is looking forward to in the coming months. Though she describes herself as being “perpetually on tour,” she said she will be putting herself out there even more considering the debut of her new album on August 11. Dubbed “Ballads,” it is a collection of jazz and roots cover songs from the 1930s to the 1960s paying tribute to Ms. Cole’s beginnings as a trained jazz singer. From Billie Holiday to Bob Dylan, this new territory exemplifies how she is defining what she calls a “second career.”
“My father, who’s in his 70s, says, ‘You live long enough and it feels like you’ve had a couple of lifetimes.’ And it’s true,” Ms. Cole related. “It feels like there’s distinct eras to your life.”
She said most people know her from her early songs, which for her represents her 20s and the ’90s in New York City.
“That was fabulous. I had a very quick ascent to be known, but I’m an introvert and the flash of it all was ill-fitting. So I just needed to shed that snakeskin that was that first career,” she said, recalling a time when “I Don’t Want to Wait” would become ingrained forever in pop culture as the theme song of the teen soap “Dawson’s Creek.”
Stepping away from the music industry for what would become a seven-year hiatus, Ms. Cole gave birth to a daughter, Sky, and focused on raising her and treating her childhood asthma.
“I consider myself a mother and a human being first,” she said. “I don’t want my career to overtake that ever.”
In 2007, she reemerged onto the music scene with a new album titled “Courage.” She would continue with four more albums, a few of which were self-produced. She is now fully independently self-produced on her own label, 675 Records.
“I like doing it on my own,” she said, admitting many record labels in her experience were poorly run. “I don’t see the purpose of labels unless you are aspiring to such hugeness that it becomes more of a marketing arm for physical products—clothing, perfume, things that can’t be digitized.”
Ms. Cole said she views the work from an entrepreneurial role—taking numerous skill sets into the equation.
With that being said, the artist said she views herself on the precipice of a third career, one that is defined by self-management, more experimentation and lots of touring.
She also seeks to “use her voice for good” in what she called rather troubling times.
“I care deeply about the planet and I worry … half of all wildlife has gone extinct in the last 40 years, in my generation,” she said. “It troubles me so deeply that it wakes me up at 4 a.m. and I’m doing what I can do.”
She added, “I sing in hopes of healing myself and therefore helping others heal because that’s what music does.”
Paula Cole performs Friday, June 30, at 8 p.m. with Sarah Jarosz in G.E. Smith Presents Portraits at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street, East Hampton. Tickets range between $53 and $150. Visit guildhall.org or call 631-324-0806.
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