Kalamazoo man records first album while undergoing chemotherapy

Kalamazoo County

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Paulie Cohen has been a musician throughout most of his life, but after decades of playing and singing, he had never written songs.

“I’ve been a multi-instrumentalist for a number of years and I always wanted to be able to write music and I’ve never had any luck,” Cohen said.

When the pandemic hit, he began his first album but soon learned some difficult news.

“I ended up with a cancer diagnosis. Aggressive B-cell lymphoma. I was hospitalized in September,” Cohen said.

When others might have put their aspirations on pause, Cohen used the diagnosis as a catalyst.

“You start thinking about your legacy,” Cohen said. “I needed a distraction. I realized that if I had a really immersive project, I didn’t really think about all the what ifs and all the worries,” Cohen said.

Spending countless hours writing, composing and recording music while undergoing six rounds of chemotherapy was far from easy. Some days, it was a struggle to gather the energy.

“There were times when I thought I was going to cut a vocal and went down and wasn’t even close,” Cohen said.

Cohen kept at it and just last week released his album, The Senary, made up of songs written from the perspective of charters in 80s movies.

“It’s a 10-track full length concept album. It’s a seamless one hour and one minute of music,” Cohen said.

While he wants people to simply enjoy the album, he hopes his story encourages others to get treatment. He says he should not have waited to see a doctor when he had abdominal pain at the beginning of the pandemic.

“I waited too long. I wasn’t sure if I should go anywhere because I didn’t want to get COVID,” Cohen said.

His response to the diagnosis is truly what surprised him the most.

“If you would have asked me a couple years ago what I would do when faced with something like a cancer diagnosis, I’m pretty sure I would say I’d crawl up and I’d sob and I would watch Netflix for nine months, and I really love that I instead turned to music,” Cohen said.

The album is available through Paulie Cohen’s website. People can pay whatever they feel is appropriate to download the album.

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