I recently had the opportunity to interview Grammy Award Winning artist, Paula Cole. Her new album, Ithaca, which is available in stores September 21st, is a deeply emotional journey through her personal experiences like divorce, regaining her identity, and even being a single mother. As I listened to the album, I was able to really feel her struggles and ultimately triumphs. Many women will be able to connect with these songs inspired by her real life situation. Paula, a Diva in her own right, was kind enough to answer some questions about Ithaca, and here is what she said.
Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva (DSDD): What were your inspirations for your new album, Ithaca?
Paula: “As always, just living life provides the inspiration. I am trying to live an examined and meaningful life, which is not easy, of course! Just dealing with every day challenges and connecting to my feelings provides the subconscious foundation for music and lyrics. That all being said, I went through some difficult years with a divorce, moving, raising my daughter alone. I am so lucky to have the music – it has been a healing force that gives me a place for my grief and anger, and also a place to find my strength.”
DSDD: Is it true that you wrote all the songs for Ithaca, co-produced, and played several instruments as well?
Paula: “Yes, I needed to get back to that hermetic place of the solitary writer digging deep. That’s historically where most of my work has sprung. “Courage” was an anomaly in that I was at a crossroads then, welcoming change and help. But for “Ithaca” I knew the songs had to come from that personal place. And I wanted to be involved in producing – in seeing the work through. I’m not as much a multi-instrumentalist as you imagine. I’m really quite inept at guitar (I was always impatient with it.) But I have a good ears, a strong sense of rhythm/groove, I’m decent at piano, and I’m known to pull out the ol’ 4th grade clarinet. I have to add that my amazing musicians make me look and sound so good. It’s important to surround oneself with greatness and let the musicians be free to fly!”
DSDD: Do you feel this album reflects your growth as an artist or do you think it is more of a return to your roots as far as writing all the music and co-producing? Or is it perhaps both?
Paula: “I intuitively feel there is a lot of growth in “Ithaca” as a human being, as a woman. Less an artist or musician. The stories I tell talk about what I’ve been through, and there is some hard wisdom in that. I’m happy to return to the challenge and joy of writing and producing. That was natural and fun. And I’m also happy to report that a middle-aged voice can be at its best. It is a fine wine now. I’m doing things vocally I couldn’t do earlier.”
DSDD: Has motherhood changed your life as an artist? Do you find it more difficult to find time to write/produce?
Paula: “Yes and Yes! I am a dreamer. I am not a natural multi-tasker. There is a part of me that resents motherhood when my need for daydreaming or late night pursuit of an idea is bombarded by “Mommy?” or just the need for sleep as I’m on the school-schedule now. But that is tempered by the deeper knowing that being a mother, and therefore choosing a support role for many years, brings great gifts; wisdom, empathy, patience, love on a previously unknown level…these are the gifts that comprise one’s soul from which songs are born. I’d say that in the long run my writing is aided by this support role. I think my writing would be more shallow if I weren’t a mother. And I KNOW I’m a better human being by being a mother.”
DSDD: What message do you hope fans will get from hearing, Ithaca?
Paula: “I hope people will love the music, turn it up, trance out, hear the lyrics and feel empowered by knowing that it is darkest before dawn; that silver linings abound in life lessons. There is so much joy. We will be connected in this music together, and I look forward to seeing you all out on the road.”
DSDD: Will you be touring soon?
Paula: “Look up my dates on paulacole.com – I’ll be singing my heart out.”
So go find Ithaca in stores September 21st, sit down with a glass of wine, and enjoy another great album from Grammy Award Winner, Paula Cole.
You can also find her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/paulacolemusic.