By Debra Downey, Senior Editor
Laura Cole played her very first concert at the age of three, and even her mother was impressed as the talented youngster plunked out a one-handed piano solo.
“I forgot what I was doing, totally,” said Cole. “My mom was teaching me piano and I totally forgot the solo, so I just made it up. It was just something off the top of my head.”
Some 20 years later, Cole has collaborated with different musicians and writers to explore her musical horizons. She’s found her niche with Dirty Cheat, her debut album. The nine-song CD will be launched on Aug. 21 at Porcelain Records in Hamilton. Every song on the album has been gleaned from an experience in Cole’s life, from getting poison ivy to the heartbreak of young love. Family friend and the album’s executive producer Daniel Lanois has described Dirty Cheat as a masterpiece.
“That’s exactly how I feel about it, too,” said Cole. “I am very proud to release it and finally have a product out there.”
From her inauspicious start with the piano solo, music has always played a huge part in Cole’s life, coming as naturally as walking and talking. Cole’s father is Ron Cole, a keyboard player with the popular local band Banned From Heaven, while mom Marlaine is an accomplished pianist.
Born and raised in Ancaster, Cole competed in her first talent show in Grade 6, thrilling her audience with Loudon Wainwright III’s classic Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road.
Cole’s more focused pursuit of a professional music career began in her teens when she occasionally sang with her dad’s band. Her own gigs followed in pubs around the Golden Horseshoe and cameo performances at the Hamilton Music Awards, Festival of Friends and the Music at Fieldcote Sunday night summer series. Los Angeles, Toronto, Louisiana, Morocco and Nashville were also pit-stops on Cole’s musical journey.
In 2009 she began in earnest to write her own songs —a blend of old jazz and blues with a new age twist. Cole said her main musical influences are legendary crooner Etta James and the King of Soul Sam Cooke.
But unlike her two musical idols, the little girl from Ancaster who lost herself in that long-ago piano performance will be content without international stardom.
“As long as I’m heard, that’s all I need,” said Cole. “I don’t have a specific direction, but I am definitely happy doing this. Music has always been my biggest passion. I don’t want anything excessive. I don’t need fame and fortune, I just want to make a living doing what I love.”
For more on Laura Cole, her music, the launch party and upcoming appearances, click here.