Thirty years as a performer—Carl Cole receives accolades

Thirty years as a performer—Carl Cole receives accolades

By Edith McCauley, Theater Critic

The YWCA was the setting for an evening of music, friendship, good food and the appreciation of an entire community for the contributions made by Carl Cole. His charming wife, Diane, served as mistress of ceremonies and kept the entertainment and the music moving.

From Mayor Doug Scott to lifetime friends and relatives from Freeport, we heard expressions of appreciation for Carl’s music, his devotion to young people, and his service to every part of the community. He entertains regularly at senior centers, organizes and accompanies young singers, and appears in every venue from the country club to his church.

Playing with him on Monday were son Andrew on drums and Art Love, an accomplished bassist familiar to Rockford and Chicago audiences. The “Freedom Singers” are sponsored by the Gateway Center, an affiliate of Zion Lutheran Church. They are a multi-ethnic group of teenagers whose enthusiasm and mutual support evidence Cole’s values and dedication to young people.

“Destination, 4 Sure” are a group of young men from Beloit who came to Cole for musical direction and help in developing movement. As emerging performers, their performance has the feel of MTV, but Cole’s original songs are distinctly inspirational, and their performance combines the best of both.

Representing experience and lifetime careers in music, John Sellers and Julian Swain sang classic jazz from the ’30s and ’40s. Sellers is a drummer with the Bill Doll Trio, and Swain is known to Rockford from his work at the Clock Tower, and most recently as choreographer of Ain’t Misbehavin’ at NAT.

Closing an evening of inspirational music, Diane Cole was joined by her sister, Bobbie Collins. Backed by the trio and Cole’s additional vocals, the rousing gospels had everyone clapping and moving with the beat.

Coming from Milwaukee to film the festivities, Dana Kohler also spoke briefly. Having seen Cole’s work at UW-Whitewater, the filmmaker was motivated to document Monday’s celebration. Carl Cole and Dorothy Paige-Turner are the featured performers on October 26 with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra. Tickets are available by calling RSO at 965-0049.

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