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Bayfield’s Lori Cole releases single ‘Shipwreck’

Bayfield resident Lori Cole and Art Hughes work in the studio. (Courtesy)
‘It was always about the music’

If you’ve ever heard the commercial jingles for McDonald’s, La Choy, United Airlines, KFC, Juicy Fruit Gum and The Incredible Edible Egg, then chances are you’re already familiar with Lori Cole.

Cole, who lives in Bayfield with her husband, Steve Salka, had a jingle-singing career that spanned more than 20 years. And now she, along with fellow musician Art Hughes, have released a single called “Shipwreck.”

Cole said she always knew she was going to be a singer. In fact, her mother was Shirley Bell – radio’s original Little Orphan Annie, so singing was in her blood.

“When I was a little girl, I was 3 years old and I used to sit on the floor with – there was a speaker, and I memorized the whole album of ‘Damn Yankees,’ which was a big Broadway hit back then. It was something always in me. And because my mother was also a singer, she taught me so many wonderful songs when I was growing up. She was a huge force,” she said. “I knew what I wanted to do; it was funny though because she said she didn’t have a childhood because she was working five days a week. The radio show was on Monday through Friday and it was all done live. She always felt like she got cheated out of her childhood, so when I was little, I wanted to perform, I wanted to do something, get out there, and she looked at me and she said, ‘I never had a childhood. And you’re going to have one whether you want one or not.’ That was the end of that until I graduated high school.”

And it wasn’t long after graduation that the Chicago-based Cole landed her first gig singing at a party. Little did she know, it was this job that would set her on the course of her career.

“The piano player liked my voice, and so he said, ‘have you ever thought about singing commercials?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. What do you mean?’ He had a company that was making radio and TV commercials. He said, ‘Come by the studio and check it out.’ So I did and I loved it. It was so much fun. I thought, anybody does this for a living? I was hooked the minute I walked in the studio.”

Cole spent more than 20 years singing commercial jingles. (Courtesy)

She put together a demo tape because she hadn’t done any commercials, and also recorded a couple of songs, which were well-received, she said, but she really got her break about a year after she started singing jingles.

“Someone wrote to the local paper, to the Daily News, and said, ‘Who’s singing your Daily News jingle?’ So my name was in the paper, and that’s when a lot of other jingle writers started contacting me, and my career was in full swing then and stayed that way,” Cole said. “I was very lucky. Truly lucky to be in the right place at the right time because that was the greatest job a person could have. I got to work with Chicago Symphony players who were doing jingles to make some extra money. The people I worked with, in terms of the other singers, were so gracious and so generous. They did not have to welcome me or consider me anything but competition. I was never treated that way; we were all friends and we gave each other baby showers, and went to parties together. It was such a small business – it was a big business in Chicago, all jingles were in New York, Chicago or LA.

“I was lucky in the sense that they liked my voice; they actually – Karen Carpenter was very popular and they liked my voice because they thought it had a similarity to her, and I sounded different than the other jingle singers, and that was a plus. So I got work and I just kept working for 20-plus years.”

Cole said that while she worked singing commercials, she toyed with the idea of trying to make it in the record industry, but she enjoyed what she was doing too much to make the switch. But now, thanks to her website created by Steve, she can get the songs she’s been working on with Hughes out to the world.

On the Net

For more information about Lori Cole – and the listen to her music – check out her website at loricole.com.

“I’m so grateful that there’s this thing called the internet now and everybody can shine, everybody can take their passion and put them out there. I just feel so blessed that Steve has been so supportive and he’s very talented in his own right,” she said. “And my partner, Art Hughes, who I really need to mention, is a brilliant musician – and I don’t say that lightly about people because I’ve worked with the best. He’s such a talent. And I met his wife, I’d always been hoping, ‘I wish I could meet somebody who I could make music with. I’m a singer, but I don’t (play) an instrument, so that sort of puts the kibosh on that. And he was a musician who couldn’t sing. I met his wife at a garage sale we were doing, we hit it off like crazy, and that’s how I met him, and it’s been such a wonderful collaboration.”

Which brings us to “Shipwreck.”

Cole said the song was written by a friend of hers who was going through a tough time. But, she said, while her friend was in a state of great sadness and distress, she was also hopeful, which is what drew Cole to the song.

“I just loved recording it. We had a 40-piece orchestra behind us, and it was just a joy to do. I love that song, and I hope when people listen to it, it just resonates with them and that they feel – if you can feel happier when you hear a song, which I think happens to a lot of people, that’s why they listen to music all day. I think if you can touch somebody with that, then you’ve really accomplished something,’ she said. “To me, it was never about money, it was always about the music, and I’m so proud to be able to put that song out there finally for people to hear.”


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