Paula Cole is back with renewed confidence

Paul Crocetti

Paula Cole is happy to be back at home.

The Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter recently moved from New York to Rockport, where she grew up.

Cole, who lives with her 6-year-old daughter, Sky, said she wanted her parents, who live here, and her daughter to know each other. Cole also started a new relationship.

"Love - that's why I moved." Cole said. "I wanted to do it for years."

Cole also recently concluded divorce proceedings.

"It's been a long and hard past few years," Cole said.

Now that the divorce is final, Cole feels free to sing and talk about it.

On Oct. 30, Cole will headline the annual benefit for The Center for Arts in Natick.

"A lot of those feelings come out in my music," Cole said. "Thank God for music - it's my therapy."

Cole hit it big with her 1996 album, "This Fire." The album featured the singles "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" and "I Don't Want to Wait," which was the theme song for the show "Dawson's Creek." Cole won Best New Artist at the 1997 Grammy Awards.

After her 1999 album, "Amen," she waited eight years before releasing a new one.

"I just felt misunderstood and depressed by the music business," Cole said. "I was in a bad place in my life."

Then Bobby Colomby, a producer and friend, came to the rescue.

"He put fun in music again," Cole said.

Now one of Cole's managers, Colomby threw her into a new context of jazz, "which I love," she said. Cole calls Miles Davis as big of an influence as Annie Lennox or Peter Gabriel, who she toured with in the 1990s.

"Courage" came out last year.

"I'm having a second, more authentic career, without MTV, hit singles - for all the right reasons," Cole said. "It's just better, because I'm more comfortable in my own skin."

Cole got back to playing live shows last year.

"I took a lot of time off," Cole said. "The audiences have changed and dwindled."

But she noticed that when she returned to the stage this year, the audiences have been building.

Cole has never played at TCAN, which last year hosted Judy Collins for its annual fall benefit concert.

"I heard it's a great place," Cole said.

The annual benefit is typically on a Saturday, but since the Thursday date worked for Cole, the center made the adjustment.

"We're very excited about Paula Cole because she's part of the next generation of artists," said Terri Evans, a member of the center's publicity team.

Cole likes the cyclical feeling of interaction with an audience - a concept Evans thinks will work well in the intimate center.

"For someone who is a significant and known artist like Paula Cole, that makes it even more special," Evans said. "You're seeing someone who would easily be in a larger venue."

The benefit, celebrating its fifth anniversary at the center's current location, is an event that regulars look forward to each year. For the first time, the benefit features an online auction that starts Thursday, Oct. 23, Evans said. The auction includes contributions from past performers, such as a night out with one of them.

Cole has a light performance schedule right now, but said she is gearing up for a new album, possibly to be released next year.

She still has a number of things she would like to accomplish, such as putting out a Christmas album.

But she is sure of at least one thing - she won't be taking another long hiatus.

"I don't expect big success," Cole said. "I know how to listen to my heart more now. I'm not as afraid."

Paul Crocetti can be reached at 508-490-7453 or


Paula Cole performs at The Center for Arts in Natick, 14 Summer St., on Thursday, Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $150 for the show only, and $200 for the show and a post-concert reception including champagne and dessert. Tickets are available by calling 508-647-0097 or go to for more information.