In 1997, Paula Cole rapidly rose to fame with her single 'Where Have All the Cowboys Gone,' which climbed into the top 10 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. At the same time, 'I Don't Want to Wait' became the theme song to the TV show 'Dawson's Creek,' bringing her distinct sound to an even wider audience. In 1998, Cole won a Grammy award for Best New Artist, and received several other nominations. Yet, by the end of the '90s, Cole disappeared from the music scene. After seven years of dealing with personal struggles, including a difficult divorce, Cole re-emerged with the album Courage, which received warm welcomes from fans who had waited patiently all those years. As Cole prepares for a stop Sat., July 12, at The Morton Arboretum, the Windy City Times caught up with her via e-mail to find out what's changed in her life to bring her back to the stage.
Windy City Times: Hi, Paula. How are you?
Paula Cole: I am among boxes as I move from my beloved NYC back to my New England roots. I need family support raising my daughter as I begin to work more. Moving toward the love!
WCT: Are you excited to be touring again?
PC: It is my responsibility to keep singing. I get depressed if I don't sing and play. Music heals me and it heals others. So, yes, I feel very humbled and fortunate to be doing what I'm doing.
WCT: It's been a while. You took seven years off before releasing your latest album, 2007's Courage. Why such a long hiatus? What were you up to during those years?
PC: There's so much to say, but I'll try to put it in a nutshell: I love the music. I struggle with the promotional aspects of my job. A natural introvert, I struggled with the socializing that accompanied the success I had in the late '90s. I needed a break. I also wanted to explore other aspects of my psyche. Being a specialist constantly is not healthy for humans. I knew I wanted a child, so I stepped off the hamster wheel and had my daughter, Sky.
She had very bad asthma that required vigilance, medication, ER visits and the like. I also needed to get out of a very wrong marriage, and that took years. Now Sky is healthy—thank you Universe—and I'm free. I am so humbled by the past eight years and deeply appreciative to be given another chance in this dwindling music business. I love music and I need it intensely.
WCT: How did Courage come about? What made you decide to re-enter the music industry at that time?
PC: I knew for years buried in an unhappy relationship and marriage that 'Courage' would be the title of my next album. 'Courage' was my daily mantra. Getting back to work has been a lifeline, clearing out a lot of bullshit, as I own my grace, doing what I'm meant to do.
WCT: How has the experience changed for you since the '90s?
PC: I see how different the landscape is now in the music world, in the entire world. But music is a universal language; it lives on no matter what. I play to less people now, but they have hung in there for me for eight years—that is near-death in the pop world. I am with my real folks. I'm happy to be eight years away from a hit song, honestly. It's more tactile and honest and about the live show, which is always the best part anyway. I don't really care if it's '98 or' 08—I need to be here and I'm appreciative. I may have a little belly and an older face, but I'm a better person and better singer now, too.
WCT: What can fans expect from your upcoming concert at The Morton Arboretum?
PC: The real deal.
WCT: Lesbian audiences love you. How important is this fan base for you?
PC: I feel the love and return it with mutual passion.
For more information on Cole's appearance at The Morton Arboretum ( which includes up-and-coming national act KaiserCartel as the opener ) , please visit www.mortonarb.org .