Guest Column: A tribute to a ‘mega-mother’ March 17

March as National Women’s History Month is always an electrifying, incomprehensible, comprehensive recollection of the vast accomplishments of females who dared to be great—just because they were.

American and world history cannot be complete without the beautiful creatures of “Love, Light and Life” called WOMEN! I applaud them all, especially my wonderful wife, mother-in-law and countless others. However, I am inclined to share a special tribute to my “first fine arts inspiration”—my dear mother, Erma Lee Cole (blood sister of the late “Deacon” Davis).

Although my Mom just turned 76 years young this past Feb. 24, she is still youthful, vibrant, brilliant and lovely. No one ever believes she raised seven children in Freeport (of which I am the last and, possibly, worst of the bunch).

Most people don’t quite understand how she taught each of us the concepts of love, harmony and peace, through the sharing of our God-given musical talents in regional concerts that she produced, even appearing twice in the Illinois History publication in the early 1960s. Mom had us out on stage before we knew what “fear” was!

Ever since I can remember, I’ve known Mom as a paragon of a mother, wife and homemaker. She taught me how to clean, cook, cooperate, excel in school and respect others…with God first. She healed “racism” by welcoming anyone into our home for dinner as well as by performing for vast cultures of audiences. I never saw discrimination of hate. I never knew her to curse, smoke, drink alcohol or do drugs. She was a true role model, as she learned from her own Mom, Josephine “Big Momma” Davis.

Consequently, I am grateful for her life and legacy of poetry and seasonal songwriting. She inspired my lifetime work in the ministry as well as with children and seniors. I owe a huge portion of my “RAMI Hall of Fame” Award to her! She supported my dream of Sounds of Good News Productions.

Most of all, I am honored for the first time in my history, to be able to share the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center stage with her at our “Some Like it COLE” concert in tribute to Nat “King Cole” Friday, March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day and Nat’s actual birthday) at 6:30 p.m. There will also be a “It’s All In Me” Women’s Workshop with Dianna Cole and 7:30 p.m. show—FREE to the public! Donations will benefit our anti-drug/crime/violence youth projects. That night, we will receive a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow…covered with four-leaf clovers and music notes. Congratulations, Mom!

Interesting “COLE” fact: My Dad, James Alfred Cole (deceased since 1973), was an accomplished pianist and singer whose repertoire consisted of many Nat “King Cole” tunes. My Mom actually met Dad when she snuck away to a talent contest where she won second place—Dad won first. His song was “Sweet Lorraine” by Nat. WOW!!!

Carl A. Cole is a RAMI Hall of Fame musician and founder of Sounds of Good News Productions.

From the March 15-21, 2006, issue

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