All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Holly Cole

Holly Cole Holly Cole

Recognized for her intelligent approach and sensual delivery, Canadian songstress Holly (Jean) Cole was born in Halifax, NS, 25 Nov 1963. The daughter of long- time CBC Radio host Leon Cole and arts administrator Carolyn Cole, Holly Cole developed her singing career in Toronto in the mid-1980s, a particularly rich time in the city's music scene.

She studied jazz vocal technique 1982-4 at Humber College. Her earliest work was in support of Toronto- based groups Canadien Club, Whitenoise, Parachute Club and Vital Sines. She formed her own trio, with pianist Aaron Davis and bassist David Piltch, in 1986 and quickly established herself with her distinctive smoky contralto voice and slightly arch stage persona. She was especially popular in Japan, where her 1992 single “Calling You” was a top-10 hit.

Cole was in the vanguard of a resurgence of female jazz singers who interpreted contemporary pop songs. Her recordings after 1995 were more firmly in the pop vein, with songs composed by Sheryl Crow, Randy Newman and Paul Simon.

Holly Cole maintained a long relationship with Toronto's Alert Music, which licensed many of her recordings to other companies for international distribution. In 1989 Cole's trio released an EP, “Christmas Blues,” and quickly followed it with her first full-length release, “Girl Talk,” which was re-released internationally in 1994.

In 1991 Cole signed her first major distribution deal with the seminal jazz label Blue Note Records and released “Blame It on My Youth,” from which her first Japanese hit was taken. “Don't Smoke in Bed,” from 1993 followed a similar formula and yielded another strong single, a languid remake of Jamaican singer Johnny Nash's “I Can See Clearly Now.” In 1995 she varied her approach, adding more than a dozen musicians to her trio for “Temptation,” an album of songs by Tom Waits. That year she also recorded a single, Oscar Brown Jr's “Hum Drum Blues,” for a Blue Note compilation with a number of first-rate jazz players, including pianist Mulgrew Miller, saxophonist Javon Jackson and drummer Bill Stewart, which indicated the label's efforts to legitimize her as a jazz artist.

Read more


Album Review
Read more articles





Capri Records

Album Holly Cole by Holly Cole

Holly Cole

Alert Music


Holly Cole

Capri Records


The Holly Cole...

Capri Records



Capri Records




Sarah Vaughan Sarah Vaughan
voice / vocals
Kurt Elling Kurt Elling
voice / vocals
Benny Carter Benny Carter
saxophone, alto
Ray Brown Ray Brown
bass, acoustic
Tony Bennett Tony Bennett
voice / vocals
Madeleine Peyroux Madeleine Peyroux
voice / vocals
Dee Dee Bridgewater Dee Dee Bridgewater
voice / vocals
Nancy Wilson Nancy Wilson
voice / vocals
Inger Marie Gundersen Inger Marie Gundersen
voice / vocals
Tierney Sutton Tierney Sutton
voice / vocals
Karrin Allyson Karrin Allyson
voice / vocals
Nnenna Freelon Nnenna Freelon
voice / vocals

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and through our retail affiliations you'll support us in the process.

Rare vinyl LPs and CDs from over 1,000 independent sellers
CDs, Vinyl, Blu-Ray DVDS, Prime membership, Alexa, SONOS and more
Specializing in high resolution and CD-quality downloads
Specializing in music, movies and video games
Marketplace for new, used, and vintage instruments and gear

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.