Saturday, April 1 at 8 p.m.
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Since the runaway success of her 1990 debut album Circle of One, and the impassioned hit single “Get Here,” Oleta Adams has inspired a growing legion of fans in the U.S. and Europe with journeys of the heart through songs that draw deeply from her roots in Gospel, while crossing effortlessly into the realms of Soul, R&B and Popular music. Her success, nurtured by worldwide tours with Tears for Fears, Phil Collins, Michael Bolton, and Luther Vandross, has been solidified by four Grammy Award nominations and a seemingly bottomless well of creative energy.
The youngest of three girls and two boys, Oleta Adams spent her formative years in Seattle before traveling over the mountains at age six to Yakima, Washington. It was there she first demonstrated her budding vocal gifts in the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church where her father served as minister. By the time Oleta Adams was eleven, she had already established herself as a piano prodigy and was directing and accompanying four choirs. She credits her further musical development in junior high school to Lee Farrell, “the brilliant Julliard-trained teacher and voice coach who changed my life.”
Turning down the chance to pursue an operatic career as a lyric soprano, along with a scholarship to Pacific Lutheran University, Oleta Adams instead spent a summer in Europe before heading to Los Angeles in the early 1970s. One demo tape and $5,000 later, she discovered that the disco movement had deafened music executives. Her Gospel-flavored voice was not “in.” With the help of Coach Lee Farrell she wound up in Kansas City, where she launched her career playing piano bars, hotel lounges and showrooms.
Oleta Adams quickly became a local institution, with her own billboard and a regular gig at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Celebrities from every musical genre caught her act, including Eartha Kitt, Cab Calloway, Air Supply, Gino Vanelli, Yes and Billy Joel. Finally, serendipity came in the form of the British band Tears for Fears, whose frontmen Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith asked her to appear on their 1989 The Seeds of Love album, video and European tour. Proving that good things come to those who wait, upon her return to the U.S. Oleta signed a record deal for her first solo album in 1991.
With eight albums, worldwide acclaim and over two-and a-half million records sold, Oleta’s musical odyssey continues – spiritually and creatively. For this consummate artist- composer-producer-musician, many goals remain on the horizon.
SOPAC programs are made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) is a 501(c)(3)charitable organization.
SOPAC received funding through a grant from the NJ Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism, visitnj.org.
Since 2006, SOPAC has been serving as a premier performing arts center in the region. SOPAC offers innovative artistic and cultural experiences for diverse audiences in an intimate, inviting environment. The premier arts center hosts a variety of live performances, community events and education programs for all ages. To further expand its offerings, SOPAC has a partnership with the Juilliard School of Music to present Juilliard @ SOPAC—a series featuring upcoming musicians from the acclaimed conservatory. SOPAC is home for Seton Hall University Arts Council’s performances, including Classical Concert Series, Jazz ‘N the Hall performances and Seton Hall University Theatre productions. SOPAC also presents performances by its theater company in-residence, American Theater Group. For more information, visit SOPACnow.org.