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Holly Cole

Born and raised in The Maritimes, Holly grew up surrounded by music; her parents were classical players, her brother is a composer and a jazz artist, her uncle sang and acted on Broadway and her grandfather played Country & Western accordion.
In her youth, she listened to everything from Broadway musicals, C&W, and classical to the sixties rock and pop of her generation. In her mid teens she discovered jazz: Nina Simone, Sonny Rollins and Betty Carter. This discovery led her to visit her brother who attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. There, she got a real feel for performing jazz, and for a long time shelistened exclusively to jazz. “Jazz is a big influence on my sound, but ultimately it’s a fusion of many styles.”
Cole has received praise as a preeminent interpretive singer and arranger working between the poles of jazz and pop. Her unique interpretations are lauded as being highly musical, intensely original, sophisticated, witty, and sexy. Her approach is sensual, intense, non-calculating and without any retro pretensions. All of this has been a continuous virtue in the singer’s illustrious career, backed by passionate live appearances internationally, both of which have cemented her reputation as a major contemporary song stylist and a highly compelling, acclaimed performer.
After travelling to Toronto in 1986, she formed the Holly Cole Trio with pianist Aaron Davis and bassist David Piltch. In 1989 she was “discovered” by Tom Berry who signed her to Management andher first record deal on his Canadian indie label, Alert Music Inc. Her first recording, the Christmas themed EPK, “Christmas Blues” was followed by her first full length recording with the Trio, "Girl Talk" in 1990. “Girl Talk” went on to be the first Gold selling vocal jazz recording awarded in Canada.
In 1991, Berry introduced Holly to Mr. Bruce Lundval, music executive extraordinaire and president ofthe most prestigious Blue Note/Manhattan Records based in New York City. Berry continued to financethe next 6 Cole recordings, licensing them to Blue Note/ Manhattan Records in 1992 for the world outside Canada. Blue Note / Manhattan released 6 Cole albums from 1992-2000, including "Blame It On My Youth” (with the #1 chart hit in Japan of her version of “Calling You” which took the album to Gold record sales there, as well as winning the Grand Prix Award for Best New Artist), "Don't Smoke In Bed" (with her biggest and most successful single to date, “I Can See Clearly Now”), "Temptation" (her tribute to Tom Waits’ recording), "It Happened One Night", "Dark Dear Heart" and "Romantically Helpless".
In 2001, Holly recorded her first full-length Christmas release "Baby It's Cold Outside" (following 1989's "Christmas Blues" EPK) which was released to coincide with her national Christmas Symphony tour.In 2003, Holly began to take financial control of her recording career by producing and owning her albums "Holly Cole" (2007),"NIGHT" (2012), “HOLLY” (2018) and “MONTREAL” (2021) Those recordings were licensed to labels around the world including Universal Music Canada, Koch in the USA., EMI in Japan, Tradition Moderne in Germany and finally with “HOLLY” and “MONTREAL” worldwide on Universal Music Canada.
Cole has always had a special relationship with Canada. Gold and Platinum record sales and countless successful tours including headlining with symphonies has brought many adoring fans and countless accolades. A very special one comes from Holly's long term relationship with the Festival de International de Jazz de Montreal having played there often since the late 80’s. The relationship with the Festival has been so successful and special that in 2013, it made Cole the 15th winner of their highly prestigious “Ella Fitzgerald Award”. The award is annually conferred upon “A jazz singer whosetalents have had a major impact and influence on the international scene”. Holly is one of only two Canadians to ever receive this very prestigious award. Other winners include Diana Krall, Sade, Aretha Franklin, Harry Connick, Jr., and Etta James. Andre Menard the Festival’s artistic director until 2020 stated “Most of all, her playfulness and the sheer pleasure of singing to a crowd reminds me of Ella more than any past recipient.”
In 2014, Holly received another great distinction from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, when she was awarded an Honourary Degree. She is most proud of this award, that acknowledges “...men and women who have made remarkable contributions to the lives of people throughout the world – in academia, business, politics, scientific research, and the arts.” 2019, prior to the COVID-19 international outbreak, proved to be an interesting year live for Holly, including successful concert dates internationally and 4 sellout nights at the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal.
In recognition and celebration of the 40th anniversary of Le Festival International de Jazz de Montreal Cole decided to reform the original Holly Cole Trio, including Piltch on bass and Davis on piano, to perform live in the very intimate cabaret setting of “Lion D’Or”, July 2-5. It had been over 25 years since the band performed live as the Holly Cole Trio and these very special performances would bring back many memories for fans of so many superlative Cole performances in Montreal from Club Soda, the Spectrum and Place des Arts. The audience was terrific and the band recorded a new live album entitled“MONTREAL”. It was released April 2/21 worldwide through Universal Music Canada and launched the focus track and video “Whatever Lola Wants”.
Slowly, 2022 will bring new recordings and the first bunch of live concert dates since 2019. Holly andband very much look forward to being able to perform for their fans again. See you out there!
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