A Filipino DJ Asked Paula Cole To Sing ‘Lean On Me.’ And She Did


This is the story of how a ’90s chanteuse ended up singing a ’70s anthem at the request of a Filipino DJ, superfan, and friend. 

Earlier today, singer Paula Cole uploaded her rendition of “Lean On Me” as a tribute to its original singer and songwriter, Bill Withers.

Withers, who passed away on March 30 due to heart complications, was the creator of the feel-good friendship song that stood at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks in 1972. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was also behind hits such as “Just The Two of Us,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and “Lovely Day,” among many others.

Cole, a Grammy-award winning artist, is known for her songs, “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” and, of course, “I Don’t Want to Wait,” which you may remember from a little show called Dawson’s Creek. In her Facebook post, she notes how her performance honors Withers’ “fantastic contribution to modern music.” 

Cole also mentions how the song was requested by “my friend Ed Cruz.” She adds, “Sending love to you today, thank you for your evergreen loving support! I’m so grateful for you!”

Ed Cruz is actually DJ Ed Croix, the dance floor master of TodayXFuture and Futurist. A fan of both Withers and Cole, the Filipino DJ shared his feelings about the passing of the hitmaker in an e-mail to his friends, which included Cole. 

In an interview with Esquire, Cruz clarifies that he and the artist “...are not really friends in person, but I do treat her like a friend because her music has been a friend to me in more ways than one.”


But they do have a connection: Apart from owning all of the singer’s album, Cruz also ran Paula Cole Asia, a fan page on Facebook, through which he once hosted a tribute night for the artist in 2013. 

Back to the story: While Cole did not reply to Cruz’s e-mail, she did something better for her superfan by performing “Lean On Me,” one of Cruz’s favorite songs from Withers’ catalog.

“Actually, that's also a big surprise for me today. I've been a fan since the ’90s when she came out with her This Fire album,” says Cruz, who found about the performance when the artist posted it on Facebook this morning.

In the clip, Cole plays the piano but stops in parts to clap to the beat of “Lean On Me,” an uplifting song that people around the world have been singing as comfort against the worries of today. “I am very moved, even shed tears of joy and gratitude,” says Cruz of the performance. “In times like these, music does wonders.”

The song—and this encounter—is a reminder that, though oceans apart, we are all connected and, while we are discouraged from physically leaning on each other right now, we should still help carry the burden of those in need.

See Cole's take on of "Lean On Me" below:

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Clifford Olanday
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