Offbeat Magazine "Right Here, Right Now: Cole Williams, The Punk Empress Of African Rock"

Cole Williams was once described as a cross between Grace Jones and the girl next door, an unlikely combination that only makes sense if your neighbor is one of the most accomplished up-and-coming musicians in New Orleans.

A Brooklyn native, Williams moved to the Crescent City in 2014, and within two years was performing onstage at the Jazz Fest. Her local profile rose further when she began hosting WWOZ’s New Orleans Music Show, ushering in 2017 with a playlist that included legendary soul queen Irma Thomas, the Hot 8 Brass Band and avant-garde cellist Helen Gillet—all of whom will, like Williams, be playing main stages at this year’s French Quarter Festival.

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Huffington Post - Punk empress of African Rock Cole Williams premieres new single “Free”

Lesley Daunt, Contributor


The self-proclaimed “punk empress of African Rock,” Cole Williams, is a New Orleans based musician/model/storyteller and all around badass cultural ambassador for the city’s thriving music scene. Today she has partnered up with me to premiere her brand new single, “Free” here on Huffington Post. The song is a soulful and rhythmic slow burner of a song that encapsulates the powerhouse vocals of Williams and her empowering lyrical stance:

“Don’t tell me how to think, don’t tell me what to do, cause I’m not in captivity. I am only human...I just wanna be free.”


Cole Williams talked about the track and it’s convincing message of self-empowerment:

“That song is a collaboration between myself and French producer/musician Pierra VEUILLOT while I was working in Paris. It was an incredible experience to create music with someone I could barely have a conversation with. This song is about me and my right to express my voice as a woman, Jamaican-American, musician, educator and human. At times, the music world can feel more oppressive than the “real” world, and you feel like you are fighting to be heard. This song is my statement, my personal mantra and my gift to everyone that wants to be free.”

A gift to be sure—fans of India Arie, Erykah Badu, and others will fine plenty to love about Williams’ unique blend of rock, soul, blues, and R&B wrapped up in one singular touching performance.

More than a singer/songwriter/producer/composer, Cole has expanded her repertoire to reflect an increasingly eclectic assortment of creative endeavors. Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Williams moved to New Orleans in recent years and has taken the city by storm. She is a radio host on the world famous WWOZ in NOLA, an active model, owner of an online boutique jewelry store, and works for a community non-profit as director of outreach. Her strong passion for community has allowed her to inspire thousands as a facilitator for enrichment in after school programming and career development within New Orleans and NYC.