For a decade, the Punk Empress of African Rock has devoted her life’s work to a solo career, much of which has taken place in her adopted home of New Orleans. Cole Williams, who today releases the retrospective album Testimony, is offering up ten years of work as a thank you to the city.
“I haven’t lived in New Orleans for a long time, but there’s a spirit here that has welcomed me home in a way that’s pretty indescribable It’s a feeling,” the Brooklyn, New York, transplant tells OffBeat. “My move to New Orleans signified a new chapter in my life-this time is about honoring my music, my gifts and my community. Before I release my first compositions as a New Orleanian, it’s important for me to take the time to reflect upon where I’ve been and where I am.
This album represents that reflection. It’s like I’m appreciating who I am, my family and the people and the city of New Orleans who’ve embraced me as much as I embrace them. And it also makes me think about being a role model to the youth I work with and for in this city and how connected we all are. This album is my testimony.”
Beyond music, Cole has dedicated herself to various charitable causes. She’s managed to create a volunteer program which facilitated a $1,000 grant from the United Way’s Tricentennial Service Initiative. She’s also responsible for aiding in the acquisition of a $4,000 musical instrument donation from Drew’s Tunes. Thanks to Williams, three school locations placed the first ever Mardi Gras Indian classes in their curricula. Plus, she’s partnered with the Musicians’ Clinic and Books to Kids on various efforts.
Tonight (October 12), Cole will celebrate the release of The Punk Empress of African Rock – Testimony at the Hi Ho Lounge, where she’ll share the stage with the Arsene Delay Trio. She can also be found at the Little Gem Saloon every Saturday night until 2 a.m.