Video Feature & Web-Exclusive Interview

Video:  “Shake the Sky


Grammy winner Paula Cole will be featured this Thursday, September 24 (8 PM Eastern) at Bravery on Fire: A Benefit for Women’s Cancer Research. Cole garnered worldwide attention with her second album, the 1996 Grammy-winning This Fire. The album has since gone double platinum, and according to RIAA has sold two million copies in the United States. It had two big hits, “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone,” which reached the top ten of Billboard Top 100 in 1997, and “I Don’t Want to Wait,” which was used as the theme song for the massively popular teen drama Dawson’s Creek.

This Thursday night, Rachael Sage, a self-described “cancer thriver” will bring together a powerful group of performers for a great cause—to raise funds for Foundation for Women’s Cancer. Along with Grammy winners Paula Cole and Lisa Loeb, the livestream will feature Tony-winning Broadway actors Megan Hilty and Alison Pill, musicians Jill Sobule, Kyshona, Grace Pettis, Heather Mae & Crys Matthews, Grace Kelly, Toby Lightman, Gaby Moreno, Fiona Harte, Mandy Harvey and dancer Abigail Simon. 100% of all proceeds will be donated to Foundation for Women’s Cancer.

The livestream will be overseen by Grammy and Emmy-winning music and television production company StreamTheory and livestreamed at, as well as Facebook Live and YouTube.

In “Shake the Sky” Paula Cole sings: Sister gonna wake up and shake the sky with her cry—she gonna rise, she gonna rise, she gonna rise. It’s a powerful rally cry we hope is heard, especially now—when our nation needs it most.

Cole’s latest release, Revolution, is her ninth album. In the second track, “Shake the Sky,” she shouts: Sister gonna wake up and shake the sky with her cry—she gonna rise, she gonna rise, she gonna rise. It’s a powerful rally cry we hope is heard, especially now—when our nation needs it most. Courage has been her mantra and her songs continue to move people to act for social justice, challenge the sexual and social oppression of women and fight for the ongoing plight of racial minorities. She starts the album with excerpts from Martin Luther King Jr’s speech and the acclamation: “revolution is a state of mind.” She truly believes that love itself can be radical.

We talked with Paula Cole about her passion to help create social change, her fascination with handclaps, what inspires her creative process, what keeps her hopeful in these unique times, her need to stir people to rise up and why it’s imperative for all of us to rally to have women’s voices heard.

PAULA COLE Interview

with M Music & Musicians magazine publisher, Merlin David

How did the idea of “Shake the Sky” come to you?
I was moved by that book Half the Sky [the 2009 book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn about the oppression of women worldwide being the paramount moral challenge of the present era, much as the fight against slavery was in the past]. That’s why I’m saying, “shake the sky.” Just knowing every cellphone we hold is made by the small hands of Southeast Asian women who were grossly underpaid—I wanted it to be a really simple song that we could convey onstage live with primarily voices, handclaps and foot stomps. So it’s really primal, tribal, sisterly and African, in a way. I think that might be the real beginning of the album, because “Revolution” is the intro. My friend Darcel Wilson, who is such an amazing voice and such a dear friend of mine, joins me on that and one other song.

Tell us about another song on your latest album Revolution.
I really love “Blues in Gray.” It’s for my great grandmother Charlotte. She was accepted into Yale University’s Music School before women were admitted into the college (1969). She had to shelve her aspirations once she was engaged to be married. I feel her lost dreams in my DNA, in the stories from my mother. All of us have that story somewhere in the lineage of our foremothers. I hope to give some voice to her, for her and for other women, too.

What is one thing you learned about yourself after you recorded this album?
I relearned that I don’t belong to any genre. I like to move about the cabin.

Tell us about “Hope is Everywhere” and how that song came to you.
I wanted a positive anthem in a club, the music providing dance steps as songs did in the 1950s. I’ve always loved Donna Summer and I wanted some energy in the club about voting and standing up for civil rights, for the environment, for women. So it’s this bizarre, uplifting anthem including all these discrete thoughts.

Is there a song you are eager to play at the Bravery on Fire event?
“Watch the Woman’s Hands” is one of my early songs. On the original 4-track demo tape I clapped to provide rhythm. The clapping became a vital part of the song, reflecting the lyric and giving a great clave. I usually don’t play it on the piano so it’s different that I’m doing so here.

What instruments/equipment can you not live without?

I need a journal. I don’t need much else. I can go a long time without an instrument. If I need one instrument, it would be a piano.

You’ve always written socially-conscious songs. Do you feel the need right now, more than ever, to write more of these songs?
Yes. We have a despot afoot. We cannot be silent. We are about to lose our rights, if we do not move into the uncomfortable place of rising up.

In this unique socio-political time, how do you remain hopeful?
I look to nature always to restore me.

Where can new fans get more info and stay updated?

Instagram: @paulacoleofficial

Twitter: @paulacolemusic

comment closed

Copyright © 2020 M Music & Musicians Magazine ·