Mr. Carl A. Cole, known as Mr. C. to young and old alike, is celebrating another birthday. And in the tradition of Bilbo Baggins, from The Lord of The Rings, this will not be just any private birthday party, but rather a public celebration of what he (as a musician and inspirational figure), has brought to the community for almost 30 years.
Most of the Rockford area is familiar with Mr. C. already. Although he was born in Freeport, a lot of his influence has been felt throughout Rockford and surrounding communities. He is known as an incredible pianist, composer and musical genius by his fellow musicians and students; he has also been an arranger, producer and educator of children from kindergarten to college. Its no wonder, as he is the seventh child in a family of musicians and singers, who were developed and encouraged by Mrs. Cole, his mother.
Mr. C. was an honor student throughout high school and college, skilled in arts and drama, as well as music. He has worked
consistently, and passionately, to develop and ensure that his creativity and love for all mankind are expressed through his music. Mr. C. has been presented with many community appreciation awards, including The American Legion Award when he was only 12 years old. He was also inducted into the RAMI Hall of Fame in 2002.
A few accomplishments
He began his own music performance and production company: The Sounds of Good News through which, operates and spreads the love he has for God, His children, and music.
In 1981, he married an excellent performer with the voice of gold, Dianna Collins, who now acts as his manager and one of his main singers. The two gave birth to Andrew Drew Cole in 1982, who is now an extremely talented and rhythmic percussionist of the best stock, as well as a writer/producer and recording engineer. With his blood line, how wouldnt he be?
Mr. C. directed, arranged and performed 29 Fats Waller arrangements without sheet music for NATs 30th season with Matt Ulery, Andrew Cole and Harlan Jefferson this past year. His diversity in playing styles and brilliance in arranging has brought a wonderful thing to the studying musicians and listeners of the Rockford area.
And it has gone further than that. Michelle Williams, from the pop R & B group Destinys Child, originally from Freeport, was trained and inspired by Mr. C. as a younger singer, and cites him as a strong influence in the autobiography of the group, Soul Survivor, which is in bookstores now.
In light of all the negativity in popular music today(i.e. emo, goth and certain metal bands), whether Mr. C. is performing gospel, jazz, blues, world or pop, his energy pervades the fortunate audience and dispels all ill thoughts. If anyone has had the great fortune to hear him perform in close proximity, the warmth, taste and texture of Mr. C.s arrangements are enough to make a rebellious youth do his chores for mother. Mr. C.s music is the definition of soul, and the musicians who have played with him seem to immediately be raised to a level of joy and exuberance that he inspires. The musicians one asks who have worked with Mr. C. in the past have only very warm and respectful comments.
Giving honor to whom honor is due. (Romans 13:7)
Matt Ulery, upright/acoustic/electric bass player who performed with and was helped by Mr. C. since he was 15, in playing gospel and R n B, said Hes always trying to help people soar and shine before himself. He taught me a lot about chords and harmonies.
One local theater goer commented after she saw Mr. C.s NAT performance, It was like Fats Waller came alive, and exploded into Rockford hes the best musician that Ive ever heard in this town.
So, a warm, happy birthday to Mr. C. from the Rockford community. For someone as ageless as Carl Cole, the numbers arent what matter, but the time on earth spent promoting, inspiring and encouraging everyone will last for centuries. Its people like Mr. C. who make Rockford a good, wholesome and creative place to live. With the experience that he has made for himself over the last 30 or so years, and the respect he has gained through professional musicianship, one can honestly just call him, THE musician for all occasions.
Mr. C.s birthday celebration and appreciation gathering will occur September 30, at the YWCA of Rockford, Rockford College entrance. There will be performances by Patriots Gateway Freedom Singers youth choir, and perhaps (if attendees are lucky) by Mr. C. himself. Social hour begins at 6 p.m., and is open to the public. For more information, call Dianna Cole at 227-6204.