Cole Redding is Soulfully Kicking Off XpoNential Festival in Philly Style!

Featured Image by Julie Hislop

Local artist Cole Redding is a rising talent from the Havertown area carving his niche in the Philadelphia music scene with his soulful approach and true presence on the stage. Recently, Cole was featured as one of the performers selected for WXPN’s “Live @ Lunch” at Dilworth Park with Center City District, Live Nation and PNC Bank. Earlier this year, he was invited to kick off New York Fashion Week as part of the first “Common Thread” concert event, an initiative Jon Bon Jovi started with Kenneth Cole that provides a platform for both new designers and musicians. In advance of his opening set at the quickly-approaching start of this year’s WXPN XpoNential Festival this Friday, Cole sat down with Rock on Philly to talk a bit about his music, debut LP and upcoming performance!

Rock on Philly: Tell us a bit about your personal background and upbringing in these parts, and how you got into music.

Cole Redding: I was born and raised in the suburbs just outside of Philadelphia. I have no complaints about my upbringing. I had a loving family, good friends, and luckily I was told at a young age that I could be anything I wanted to be. I’m grateful for that. My relationship with music started as a listener. As a kid, I took solace in it. Everything, for me, centered around music. Once I discovered my own ability, I was determined to become a part of it.

ROP: Your style combines elements of traditional soul with contemporary pop, what are some of your greatest influences from both past and modern eras in these musical styles?

CR: The first music I remember falling in love with is Motown… Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, all of that classic R&B. However, having been born in the 90’s, I grew up in an era of pop. All of that late 90’s pop is [embedded] in me. When I’m creating, there’s always a balance of these two worlds. I pay homage to the Old school with modern interpretation.

ROP: Philadelphia is one of the few major market cities in which genres such as Jazz, Soul, Neo Soul and R&B have a prominent history with strong local roots, as well as a booming scene in the present day. What unique characteristics do you notice about Philadelphia that you can attribute the fostering of both the heritage of this music and continued growth of these styles?

CR: The Philly Sound is timeless. I think that soulfulness starts with the city itself and its people. You can feel the heart in Philadelphia. It comes out in the music.

ROP: In June of last year you began work on the production of your debut LP at none other than the legendary Blackbird Studios in Nashville, TN, a studio of great repute that has worked with a broad spectrum of internationally-recognized artists (i.e. Neil Young, R.E.M, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Justin Bieber, Kings Of Leon and many more). Tell us what it has been like to record at Blackbird and about your experience making an album in Nashville.

CR: I’ve been spoiled with amazing studios over the last 18 months. I traveled all around the country making the LP so, I’ve gotten to use the best of the best. The majority of my LP, however, was done in Nashville. I have 3 studios in Nashville that I love, including Blackbird. You get to be friends with the engineers, and the staff, and we use the same musicians consistently, so it’s fun. It’s like a family reunion.  I’ve probably been in Nashville 25 times in the last 18 months so, it feels like a second home.

ROP: You have been working throughout this process with a greatly-accomplished and very experienced long-time veteran of the music industry in Obie O’Brien (Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper) who has produced your LP in its entirety. Tell us about the support you have received so early in your career from Jon Bon Jovi, as well about the impact of receiving guidance and the skillful knowledge of a truly great professional like Obie O’Brien and what that has meant to you in your development as an artist?

CR: Obie O’Brien is my collaborator on this LP. He’s my mentor, my co-writer, my producer and a true friend. Working with Obie has changed my life, as an artist. Through Obie, I met Jon Bon Jovi…Obie’s been with the Bon Jovi Organization since the beginning. Jon (Bon Jovi) took a liking to what I do and got involved in the project. To have Jon’s involvement is invaluable. He’s a legend. Whether it’s speaking with him or watching him at work, there is no better example for a new artist. We wrote a song together for the LP, which I’m so proud of. It’s like Motown in 2015. We actually recorded it at Jon’s home studio, “Sanctuary II”, so it makes it even more special to me.

ROP: You first single “Save Me” is out now, and you have recorded a cover of Brian Wilson’s Beach Boys classic “God Only Knows” also… Would you share a bit with our readers and your fans about your forthcoming album, as well as your work these songs?

CR: This is album is autobiographical. It’s a time capsule of the last 2 years of my life… The good, the bad and the ugly. I wanted to it be honest. “Save Me” represents a dark time for me. It’s definitely a heavy moment on the LP. I no longer feel like I did when I wrote it, but it takes me back a bit when I sing it now. “God Only Knows” was Obie’s idea. I was singing it in his kitchen and he walked in and said, “We’re going to cover that”. I wanted no part of it. I thought the original was perfect and it was best left alone. Obie had a vision for it, I trusted him. I’m glad I did. I think what we did with “God Only Knows” is beautiful and respectful of Brian Wilson’s song.

ROP: As a new artist starting out in the music business, tell us about what your experience has been like firsthand in terms of the process of making, releasing and distributing an album and what have been your highlights and challenges along the way?

CR: The process of making this LP has been fantastic. We took our time with it, which allowed me to truly find my sound. I think the highlight for me is finding exactly who I am, what I have to say, and how I want to present it. It’s empowering. The challenge was funding… Obie and I financed the LP ourselves and it’s expensive. That struggle, however, makes it more rewarding when you finish it.

ROP: Having recently taken the stage for WXPN’s “Live @ Lunch” and for Jon Bon Jovi and Kenneth Cole’s “The Common Thread” concert, you are now the opening act this upcoming weekend for the WXPN XpoNential Music Festival. As a local artist what does WXPN mean to you and what are you looking forward to and most excited about as the XpoNential festival approaches?

CR: What XPN does is so vital for independent artists. Helen Leicht, of XPN, has become a good friend of mine. I sent Helen “Save Me” totally unsolicited last Summer and it was literally on the radio within 45 minutes just because she liked it. That doesn’t happen elsewhere. She’s been supportive from Day 1 and I won’t forget that. I’m so excited for the [XPNonential] Festival. It’s the first time I’m performing music from the LP with a full band, so it’s going to be high energy and a lot of fun. I’m doing a cover in the set that is so cool and outside of the box! I think it’s going to blow people’s minds. Don’t miss out!

Just prior to this article, I reached out to Obie O’Brien who shared the following…

“I think Cole Redding is an amazing artist.  I love his passion and respect for the music and his ability to live in the moment when he delivers the narrative of a song. This is what making records should be …….a great singer with a story to tell and a room full of talented musicians all playing together…it’s magic.”

And, to Jon Bon Jovi, who had this to say about Cole:

“He was the first artist who I wanted to perform at the Common Thread series and that says it all.”

Be sure to not to miss Cole Redding, performing this Friday July 24th at 5:30PM on the JerseyArts.com Marina Stage at Wiggins Park as he opens the 2015 WXPN XpoNential Music Festival!

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  1. Pingback: Top 10 Performances From XPoNential 2015! - Rock On Philly

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