I spotted Lola Cole in the crowd before hearing her voice. The bright red jacket and the explosion of follicular beauty atop her smiling head gave her away. After attending her buddy Zale’s set, Lola took the stage herself. Things were about to heat up at the Atlanta Dogwood Festival.
Her soul came out in the form of strong voice, the kind that is awesome and effortless, like a caterpillar moving with extreme grace despite having so many feet. For all those attendees whose attention was elsewhere, Lola won their focus with a playful lip trill. The attendees started to dance. Children were dancing. The ladies in sundresses were dancing. Even the mustachioed man eating a meat sandwich in the shade danced in his seat.
Like a preacher delivering the big sermon, Lola incited, articulated, and wailed. She grabbed the audience with her vocal talons and took them along with her like a bird of prey. She had them at her mercy. Lola sang “Leave a Light” with a distinctly raw tenderness, and the couples in the crowd embraced a little tighter.
Lola delivered “Bitter Cold Nights” with a voice that could keep anyone warm, then the band ramped things up with an infusion of funk so strong I wouldn’t be surprised if there were an age restriction for something so funked up. As the funk swirled and churned and took a turn for the freewheeling fun of a classic hip-hop sound, Lola changed out of her red blazer and into a red camo jacket. This woman knows how to dress.
This mistress of funky, succulent sound turned up the crowd’s excitement by spitting a little Grandmaster Flash. She’s a woman with a message. Shifting to soul like a buffet shifts to dessert, the crowd went nuts but Lola’s voice stayed strong, staking her territory in the air.
Lola Cole is a fantastic artist who takes up space – and rightly so. She’s the kind of lady you want around when arguing with a retail employee. She’s the kind of lady who show up at the Dogwood and brings it. I can’t wait to hear more from her.