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15 février 2007

Paula Cole finds her voice again

Paula Cole went from backing up Peter Gabriel to overnight sensation with “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone” and “I Don’t Want to Wait” from “Dawson’s Creek”

Then in 2000 she just went away. She dropped out of the business and only now is starting to try again. She’s scheduled to perform Friday at her alma mater, Berklee College of Music in Boston. A new album, “Courage” is due in June.

Q. So. Where have you been?

A. I moved to L.A. in 2000 and lived there until February of 2005, when I moved back to New York City. They were my quiet years, my domestic years. Sky (Cole’s daughter) was born in 2001, and I found a house with a big yard. We had dogs and cats and a settled-down life.

You abandoned your career. Why, and why then?

It had been building for a while. Some of the things that I’d wished for were happening, and that was such a blessing, and yet there was so much more to life. I really wanted a child. I’d been out in the world too long. It was like being in the sun, it blanches your skin. I just needed to stop, to punctuate it with a big period.

What brought you back?

(Producer and manager) Bobby Colomby, who I first met in 1994, got word from my former manager that I needed a friend. So he e-mailed me and asked how I was. I said, “I’m fine. I’m a mom. I don’t think I’m going to be in the music business. I don’t know what’s happening.” I had done him a favor in 1997, singing on an album by an unknown artist he was working with, and he wanted to repay the favor. He believed in me, profoundly, and I learned to trust him. He brought fun to music and life again. I feel incredibly blessed to be taken under his wing.

Is the music, and the process of making music, different this time around?

Writing before was a hermetic process. I was a kind of Type A, controlling person, and that comes from a lot of fear. Writing my songs by myself in a silent room felt safe. Now I’m writing with other people. I have to show up and come up with ideas and be detached enough to be criticized. It’s healthy. And it makes the work better to not be so precious about it.

This is your first headlining concert in seven years. Are you nervous?

Sure, I have some anxiety about it. But I know that once I’m a couple songs deep into the show it’ll be like riding a bike. It has to be. God, it better be.

Joan Anderman, Boston Globe

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