Paula Cole: Courage
AAJ: That is something to definitely look forward to. You've done such brilliant collaborations with Chris Botti. The brooding tone of his trumpet and the phrasing and range of your voice makes for a wonderful duo that translates beautifully.
PC: The thing about Chris is that our love for Miles Davis unifies us, and Bobbywhose brother managed Thelonious Monk. Bobby grew up in Washington Heights, and used to watch Miles Davis as frequently as he could; and of course Chris has been heavily influenced by Miles Davis, as have I. I actually took a Miles Davis music appreciation class and I would sing along to his solos. I just love the person that he was and how he performed. He is absolutely one of my musical idols.
Chris and I record at Capital's "A" room, which is historically and acoustically great. Nat King Cole, who is one of my heroes, recorded there. In the spirit of Miles Davis, when Chris and I record we usually get it in just one or two takes. It is fun and I am able to air my influences. Singing jazz ballads is one of my strengths. It is something that I do, and yet for so many years it has been unknown. I think Bobby wanted to unearth that. I have songs already planned in my mind that I would love to do on a jazz album.
AAJ: I think whenever a vocalist takes on the classic songs of the Great American Songbook, it is important to be able to communicate to the listener what the lyrics are really sayingto really connect with the music. Life experience plays a crucial role in the vocal interpretations.
PC: That is certainly my hope. The voice is transparent and you can hear a person's soul in a way. My favorite singers aren't derivative. They arrive as themselves, especially when they can communicate the lyrics. Someone like Billie Holiday, people imitate her, and her peers did as well. Even Miles Davis, he was copying Dizzy Gillespie originally, but it was when he found himself that he arrived.
AAJ: In your case, I would say that your interpretation of the lyrics always rings true. Paul Buchanan has said of your voice that "the angels listen to it and weep." To be held in such high esteem by your peers is an accomplishment in itself. On Courage you have employed some outstanding musicians, including Herbie Hancock and David Foster.
PC: When I left Warner Brothers, I was contractually obligated not to do any [original] songs. So with this album, it all came together relatively quickly, we all collaborated.
AAJ: There are some excellent collaborations. "It's My Life" is a profound song. There is something almost anthem-like about it, in terms of empowerment and taking control of one's life. I think it is a great representation the message of the album and of what listeners can expect to hear. What do you hope that the listener gains?
PC: When I made this album I was struggling with my mantra to find my strength, and I knew that one day in an interviewlike I am doing right nowI wanted to be able to say that word: courage. It is a reminder of where I have been and proof that you can get through any struggle.
Paula Cole, Courage (Decca, 2007)
Various Artists, August Rush Soundtrack (Columbia, 2007)
Chris Botti, Italia (Columbia, 2007)
Jeff Lorber, He Had a Hat (Narada, 2007)
Chris Botti, Chris BottiLive with Orchestra and Special Guests (Columbia, 2006)
Chris Botti, To Love Again (Columbia, 2005)
Chris Botti, When I Fall In Love (Columbia, 2004)
Gary LeMel, The Best Of Times (Concord Jazz, 2003)
Various Artists, Sweet November Soundtrack (Warner/Sunset, 2001)
Various Artists, The Other Sister Soundtrack (Hollywood, 1999)
Paula Cole, Amen (Warner Bros., 1999)
Various Artists, City of Angels Soundtrack (Reprise, 1998)
Various Artists, Midnight In The Garden of Good & Evil Soundtrack (Malpaso Records, 1997)
Paula Cole, This Fire (Warner Bros., 1996)
Paula Cole, Harbinger (Warner Bros., 1995)
Peter Gabriel, Secret World Live (Geffen Records, 1994)
Top Photo: Courtesy of Photorazzi
Bottom Photo: Fabrizio Ferri, courtesy of Decca Records