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Paula Cole
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Paula Cole

Paula Cole b. in Rockport, Massacheusettes, USA, is an American singer and songwriter. Cole was born to a visual artist mother and a father who was an entomologist who formerly played polka music. Cole entered the Berklee College of Music in Boston when she was 18, where she studied jazz singing and improvisation.

Cole released her debut album, "Harbinger", in 1994 on the Imago record label. She so entranced the industry with her vocals that she was asked to tour as an opening act for Peter Gabriel; she also appeared to sing a duet with Melissa Etheridge on VH1 though she was not well-known.

"Harbinger" featured songs dwelling on Cole's personal experience with discrimination and unhappiness. The songs were musically lush but driven and bleak. The accompanying artwork featured photographs of Cole with a boyishly short haircut, wearing loose fitting black sweatclothes, combat boots and nose ring. Unfortunately the Imago label folded and promotion of "Harbinger" was limited, affecting it's sales. A single, "I Am So Ordinary", was released with a bleak, low-budget black and white video that reflected the album's artwork.

In late 1996 Cole released her sophomore album on Warner Brothers, "This Fire", which she entirely self produced. The song's debut single "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone" became an instant smash radio and music television hit, and it shot to the top of the pop charts. The follow up single, "I Don't Want To Wait", was another #1 hit, thanks in part to the fact that it was made the theme song to the popular teen drama "Dawson's Creek". (In fact, the song was considered by so many to be so overplayed that it was lampooned on various sketch comedy shows. Memorably, a sketch on Mad T.V found a spoof of "Dawson's Creek" in which someone bursts in on a romantic scene and destroys a radio playing the song.) The singles "Me" an "Hush, Hush, Hush" were also relesaed.

Cole toured with the Lillith Fair and garnered even more critical acclaim for her live performances. Cole was nominated for several Grammy awards in 1997. Among them was "Producer of the Year", a category in which she was the first female ever to be nominated. She did not win, but did win "Best New Artist".

After a brief hiatus Cole released "Amen" with the newly formed "Paula Cole Band". The album's debut single "I Believe In Love" was not a success...that is, until it was remixed into a dance song. The album failed to match the success of "This Fire" and Cole's career came to a screeching halt.

In her heyday, Paula Cole created some controversy by appearing in public wearing tank tops and sleeveless shirts, and even totally nude on the This Fire album cover, without shaving her armpits. In fact, one magazine enraged Cole after airbrushing her pit hair out of its cover photo.