ESSENCE: How do you feel about constantly being compared to Mary J. Blige?
COLE: I feel like we are very similar based on everything we’ve been through in our personal lives. It’s helped make us sing the way we sing. Because she didn’t have a vocal coach, and neither did I. And when I met her I told her, “You winning all those Grammy’s—congratulations—it gives me inspiration to this day that maybe I can do the same thing.” You know, it’s just a real big life circle. I think there are a lot of things that she could tell me that’d help me. I’m not trying to take nobody’s place or nothing like that. But I’m just saying, as a woman—as a young Black woman—if she knows some of the answers, Give ’em to me!” (Laughing.) But she said that I could call her anytime. I just haven’t done it yet.