GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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August 8, 2010

Paula's homecoming: Rockport's Cole wows sold-out crowds

ROCKPORT — Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter Paula Cole performed in her hometown this weekend, the first time she has performed here since her 1986 graduation ceremony as class president from Rockport High School.

Back then, she wowed the crowd then with her rendition of Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross."

Cole left the small seaside town of 7,000 on her journey as a teenager, and returned as an accomplished singer songwriter with fans around the globe.

One fan traveled from the Netherlands to see both Friday and Saturday's shows in Rockport as well as a show in Ogunquit, Maine, last night.

"Unfortunately Paula doesn't tour in Europe," said Robbert Vansprang. "But this is one of the best venues I have seen her in."

He wasn't the only one who traveled to see the Decca-recording artist. Tina Kougher of Milton, N.H., has seen Cole perform more than 50 times.

"This is the best venue I have seen her in. The sound is amazing and I have seen her in places from coast to coast," said Kougher.

Both fans were referring to $19 million Shalin Liu Performance Center, which opened in June for the chamber music festival, but was hosting its first pop show on Friday night.

When she first came onto the stage, the audience gave her a rousing applause, a reception she thanked them for several times during the show with deep appreciation. While Cole dazzled the audience, often the show seemed more like a homecoming party.

"I'm grateful for my hometown. Thank you for your support, for caring and for remembering," she told a hushed audience. "We're going to have a family reunion. It's going to be like 'It's Your Life Paula Cole Night."

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