'This is what you're here to do'

By Ed Brock

In the confines of her Jonesboro apartment, Cynthia Anne "Red" Cofell sets her voice free to resound from the walls.

"Visions that can change the world, trapped inside an ordinary girl," she intones softly. "She looks just like me too afraid to dream out loud."

Then she builds to a smashing crescendo on the chorus.

"Keep the dream alive don't let it die. If something deep inside keeps inspiring you to try, don't stop, and never give up, don't ever give up on you," Cofell sings, tears welling in her eyes. "Don't give up."

The song she sings is "Never Give Up" by Yolanda Adams. It's the "song that came at just the right time" for 36-year-old Cofell, a time when she was beginning to question her pursuit of her career in music.

"When this song came out it was like, hold on," Cofell said.

Cofell's been holding on, since leaving her home in Detroit, home of Motown, and the church where her mother used to sing in the choir.

"People used to line up around the corner to hear her," Cofell said.

Cofell's mother passed her talent on to her children. Her sister still sings gospel and her brother directs the Boys and Girls Choir of Detroit. Cofell prefers to employ her smoky voice singing songs by Donna Summers and the like.

"I do like the oldies," Cofell said. "I want to do rock. I want to take up where Tina Turner left off."

She had heard that Mobile, Al. was the place she ought to be to let her own talent develop.

"I packed up the car like the Beverly Hillbillies and went on down," Cofell said.

She had her three sons and daughter with her. Cofell performed at some clubs like Take 5 on Dauphin Street, Mobile's nighttime hot spot.

But everybody there urged her to go to "Hotlanta," so six years ago she followed her dream here. It's a fast town here, she said, and it's hard to balance a day job and her family with singing engagements. She has performed at Eddie's Attic and several other venues.

She's gone to Flavor Music recording studios in Morrow to record some tracks.

"She has a unique style," said Flavor Music owner Greg Stinson. "She sings more alternative stuff, more of a rock edge."

She does do private parties and weddings, Cofell said, and she can be reached at (770) 960-9313 for those gigs.

Still, it also seems like a lot of people in the industry are looking for somebody younger. She wanted to try out for the "American Idol" television show, but it has a cut-off age of 29 for auditions.

"I'm just trying to hold on to it," Cofell said. "It's 80 percent hope, prayer and luck."

But it's not like she really has a choice.

"I think before you're born, before you hit the earth, there's something planted in you and this is what you're here to do," Cofell said.