Cole Williams Releases 10th Anniversary Retrospective (Album Stream) OCTOBER 12, 2018

by: AMANDA MESTER

For a decade, the Punk Empress of African Rock has devoted her life’s work to a solo career, much of which has taken place in her adopted home of New Orleans. Cole Williams, who today releases the retrospective album Testimony, is offering up ten years of work as a thank you to the city.

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“I haven’t lived in New Orleans for a long time, but there’s a spirit here that has welcomed me home in a way that’s pretty indescribable It’s a feeling,” the Brooklyn, New York, transplant tells OffBeat. “My move to New Orleans signified a new chapter in my life-this time is about honoring my music, my gifts and my community. Before I release my first compositions as a New Orleanian, it’s important for me to take the time to reflect upon where I’ve been and where I am.

This album represents that reflection. It’s like I’m appreciating who I am, my family and the people and the city of New Orleans who’ve embraced me as much as I embrace them. And it also makes me think about being a role model to the youth I work with and for in this city and how connected we all are. This album is my testimony.” Read More

ALL ACCESS MUSIC: An Interview With the Punk Empress of African Rock, COLE WILLIAMS!

Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there a time where you thought of doing something completely different? 

Cole WilliamsPhotographed by Badawy

Cole WilliamsPhotographed by Badawy

Growing up never seemed like a reality- I always went in the direction that felt right for me and I loathed structure and other people projecting themselves onto me. Music has always come naturally and it doesn’t hurt that I’ve been playing and training in classical piano since I was 4 years old. As a first generation American I wasn’t raised in an environment where being an artist was a viable career choice, and music was given to me to make me well-rounded, not a career choice.

My earliest musical memory is singing a gospel song “Tomorrow” in my church when I was about 8 years old. I remember feeling so nervous and shy but I sang in key, so it wasn’t that horrible, haha.

I actually thought I was going to become a psychologist. Read more

Exposed Vocals Interview

Exposed Vocals: So tell us your story. Where did you grow up? What made you decide to become an artist?

Photograph by Curtis Knapp

Well I’m born and raised in the east Flatbush area of Brooklyn, NY. I’m first generation American from a Jamaican family. I guess my immersion in music at a young age coupled with my independent spirit made being an artist the undeniable career choice. I’ve always felt like I have something to say and I love composing music. Music is sacred and i honor it.

Exposed Vocals: Since everyone was a start-up once, can you give any smaller or local bands or artists looking to get gigs and airplay some tips?

Build real relationships and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. No one is handing out anything for free, and that includes gigs. Research, cold contacting, it works if you’re working it. Writing great songs and playing great shows isn’t enough without the right management. I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves, put on a pair of heels, and get to work.

Exposed Vocals: Do you ever make mistakes during performances? How do you handle that?

All the time. I used to feel so uncomfortable with mistakes when I first started singing professionally, now I roll with it because that’s where the magic is. I always tell my musicians, the mistakes don’t bother me, I care about how you bounce back from an error...

Huffington Post: Punk empress of African Rock Cole Williams premieres new single “Free”

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The self-proclaimed “punk empress of African Rock,” Cole Williams, is a New Orleans based musician/model/storyteller and all around badass cultural ambassador for the city’s thriving music scene. Today she has partnered up with me to premiere her brand new single, “Free” here on Huffington Post. The song is a soulful and rhythmic slow burner of a song that encapsulates the powerhouse vocals of Williams and her empowering lyrical stance:

“Don’t tell me how to think, don’t tell me what to do, cause I’m not in captivity. I am only human...I just wanna be free.” Read More

Offbeat Magazine: Cole Williams On Empowering Youth Through Storytelling

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"When Cole Williams first arrived in New Orleans in 2015, she was hopeful that the city’s rich musical tapestry would have a positive influence on her own music. “I knew I was going to be a better musician just by being immersed in the music here,” the Brooklyn native recalls. “I just feel so supported musically. I feel like there’s nothing I can’t do.”

Since then, she has fully immersed herself into every aspect of the musical fabric of the Big Easy, handling midday hosting duties every Tuesday with WWOZ’s New Orleans Music Show. When she’s not on-air, she and her band host their weekly African Rock Saturday show at Marigny Brasserie (640 Frenchmen Street).

Part of her musical evolution has involved her delving deeper into her craft as a storyteller. “What I really do now that I didn’t do before is that I really tell a story. I was always a storyteller but just experiencing life in New Orleans [and] experiencing the culture has allowed me to get deeper into the reasons why I make music. It’s beautiful,” she tells Offbeat." Read More