An exclusive interview with Carl (‘Mr. C’) Cole
By Susan Johnson
As Sounds Of Good News (SOGN) Productions nears its 30th anniversary, founder Carl Cole (
) shared some of his reflections with The Rock River Times (TRRT).
TRRT: How did SOGN get its start? What was the inspiration for it?
Mr. C: I graduated from high school in 1979 in Freeport, my hometown, and went straight to NIU. When I came home for Thanksgiving break, the day after Thanksgiving, I was inspired to start Sounds of Good News, when I came home to visit my mom. My mom [Ms. Erma Cole] really is my inspiration because we kids sang together, so SOGN is all about music.
TRRT: How did the various projects, such as Young Eagles Success, come about?
Mr. C: Young Eagles Success really is a takeoff from children’s character building that I’ve always done, where I use music to teach character concepts. The actual Eagles idea was inspired by the Salvation Army. Their children’s character building projects are based on eagles flying and soaring, and I used to be the music director for their Children’s Singing Company. I did work with them, probably six to seven years ago, and it’s so interesting because the YES Club meets at the Salvation Army now—the Kilburn Community Center. That is partly why St. Paul [Lutheran Church] collaborated with us. We were the special music for the last 18 years of Neighborfest.
TRRT: How was the group selected to perform at the Illinois State Fair?
Mr. C: The YES Club are now a regular performer at the Illinois State Fair for the Illinois Association of Park Districts’ Conservation Day. We received a community service award in 2007 from the Illinois Park & Recreation Association, as well as the Illinois Association of Park Districts. That award was given to us by the Rockford Park District. The speaker was the president of the Illinois Association of Park Districts, Ted Flickinger, and he was the one that approached me about the kids singing at Conservation Day. That is why the CD we are doing for Thanksgiving Day is being dedicated to [him].
TRRT: What does the women’s workshop
It’s All in Me
Mr. C: What Dianna [Mrs. Cole] does—she covers topics like inner and outer beauty, self-esteem, career choices. It’s more for youth and adults because the children’s stuff, we do through the YES Club. This is for older teens and adults. She also deals with unity in diversity.
TRRT: How did SOGN arrange to be partners in neighborhood outreach with St. Paul Lutheran?
Mr. C: We started partnering with them just this year as far as being official partners. We actually signed that contract this year. But Neighborfest has been going on for 18 years, and we’ve been at all of them. Pastor [David] Thies did approach me for the Church4U. He approached me about being the music for that, and our YES kids sang. That was what inspired the official collaboration with St. Paul.
Editor’s note: Church4U is a neighborhood fellowship service held at 1:30 p.m. every second Sunday of the month at St. Paul’s Central Site, 600 N. Horsman St.
From the beginning, Carl Cole has made SOGN a family effort. Working with his wife, Dianna, and son Andrew, he continues the legacy started by his mother, Ms. Erma Cole, with his family group
The Singing Coles,
who were mentioned in the Illinois History magazine in the early ’60s.
The next women’s workshop retreat,
It’s All in Me
(a First-Friday-of-the-Month event) will take place from 6-8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13, at St. Paul Lutheran’s Northwest Site (4881 Kilburn Ave.). At 7 p.m., Nov. 13, SOGN will take part in an annual
community celebration at Fisher Chapel, Rockford College, 5050 E. State St.
Saturday, Nov. 14, the SOGN group will again be at Fisher Chapel, Rockford College, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for a
Sunday, Nov. 15, at 1:30 p.m., SOGN is back at St. Paul Lutheran Central Site (Horsman and Locust streets) for Church4U neighborhood fellowship service.
Saturday, Nov. 28, the public is invited to join the anniversary celebration from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at CherryVale Mall’s Bergner Court. Special music will be performed throughout the day with a Grand Ceremony at 1 p.m. featuring the Young Eagles Success Club. The event is co-sponsored by St. Paul Lutheran Church and the Rockford Park District. Tax-deductible contributions can be made to St. Paul Lutheran Church.
From the November 11-17, 2009 issue