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Oleta Adams
     
The Bio

Since the runaway success of her 1990 debut album Circle of One, and the impassioned hit single "Get Here"-the Brenda Russell composition that became an unofficial anthem of the 1991 Gulf War-Oleta Adams has inspired a growing legion of fans in the U.S. and Europe with journeys of the heart, songs that draw deeply from her roots in Gospel, while crossing effortlessly into the realms of soul, R&B, urban and popular music. Her success, nurtured by worldwide tours with Tears for Fears, Michael Bolton, and Luther Vandross, have been solidified by three Grammy nominations and a seemingly bottomless well of creative energy.

 

A longtime resident of Kansas City, Kansas, where she has found safe harbor from the tempestuous gales of the entertainment industry, Oleta Adams also remains anchored by her upbringing in the Pacific Northwest. The youngest of three girls and two boys, Oleta spent her formative years in Seattle before traveling over the mountains at age six to Yakima, Washington, an idyllic town of 60,000 with a black population of less than 600. She first demonstrated her budding vocal gifts in the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church where her father served as minister. By the time Oleta was eleven, she was directing and accompanying four choirs, having already established herself as a piano prodigy.

Circle of One made few concessions to commercialism. Yet with its gospel-infused pop tunes and soulful ballads, including "Get Here," the album proved an auspicious beginning. Circle of One, which sent three singles into the Top 20 on the pop charts and garnered two Grammy nominations-Best Pop Vocal Performance/Female for "Get Here" and Best R&B Vocal/Female for her cover of "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me"-led to a worldwide tour with Michael Bolton and gave Oleta her first Platinum record.

Her second album, Evolution, received equally exuberant kudos and sent Oleta on the road with soul master Luther Vandross. Of her sophomore effort, Rolling Stone noted that Oleta remained fresh by focusing on "big, vibrant ballads" rather than parroting the "adventurous" mixed genre approach of her debut album. Among its stand-out selections: a jazz/gospel cover of Billy Joel's "New York State Of Mind," a blues enriched interpretation of James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," and the lyrical version of the title song.

Oleta's debut release for Harmony Records, Come Walk With Me, finds Oleta clearly representing who she is musically, continuing the stylings that have brought her such widespread acclaim. For Oleta, this album is truly a reflection of who she is spiritually. It is a musical statement from one who has wrestled with the basic issues of her faith, as well from one who rebelled against the demands and expectations of being a pastor's child. This album could have been named Full Circle, for it is a testament to God's faithfulness to his children. Moreover, doing music that reflects her Christianity is not something constrained to an album. Each night in concert, Oleta openly shares her faith in Christ through a focused set of music similar sto the tracks of Come Walk With Me. Likewise, Oleta and her family are quite active serving in her church and around the community.

To underscore this heart of commitment, the following are excerpts from a conversation with Oleta:

Oleta on Gospel Music:

Gospel music was not something I wanted to do for a long time. Growing up as a minister's daughter, next door to the church in our home, it was however, expected of me. I was always singing in church, and by the time I was eleven, was leading four choirs. Yet, from rumors about crazy lifestyles of some in Gospel music, I didn't want to be part of it. Also, another aspect was simply rejecting music to work people into a frenzy and hysteria, rather than allowing the music and the words to work on their hearts to bring about a deeper understanding of God. I am firmly convinced that whether it is the Word delivered through the words of a pastor or the words of a song, the Word must speak for itself, being used as an instrument of the Holy Spirit for His work rather than a tool of man to achieve his desired result.

I ended up leaving the church for awhile. I was sure that I didn't want to play around with God, and that I was not ready to make any lasting commitment. In 1987, I made that commitment to Jesus as Lord. From then on, I recognized the power of music to move the hearts of man-for good or bad. I wanted to used music to share the treasures of God I've found in a right relationship with Him-pointing people to the only source of true and lasting joy and peace in this life- Jesus. I've found that music can both be used to share the message of Christ directly through the lyrics, as well as a means to tenderize hearts for the Word and the Spirit to do their work.

Oleta on Come Walk With Me:

This album is simply Oleta Adams doing what comes naturally. I've continued to be who I am musically, infusing into the lyrics the truth and power of the Gospel message. You'll hear an assortment of stylings in every album I do, using the diversity to best reflect the way the song was intended to be performed, combined with what best delivers the thought of the message.

This is my first Gospel album. As I began to write and record, I thought this album said it all. Now, I realize that it is only the beginning of God's work in and through me. Of the 4 songs I wrote, I began in the Word looking for foundational thoughts. It soon became clear that in a real way, God was writing through me. I know now that was just the beginning.


Quotes

"Adams' exquisite voice is an instrument whose high end vibrated in stunning clarity and whose bottom range resonates richly." — Rolling Stone Magazine

"She performs within the pop lexicon without letting it transform or cheapen her talents. Her classically trained voice is nuanced, and she coaxes quiet tears from her listeners as often as she inspires spontaneous, one person standing ovations. She dares to be overtly inspirational, vulnerable and loving."— The New York Times

"Listen and you just might forget MTV ever existed."— People Magazine

"After years of longing for a great pop singer with a vision, it looks like we may have finally found one."
— Los Angeles Times

"Brilliant!" — Entertainment Weekly Magazine

"When the music is so good that it makes you swoon; when the lyrics are so real that they make you cry; when the voice is so rich and so passionate that all you can do is wave your hands, close your eyes and shake your head, you know it's Oleta." — Tafrija Magazine

 

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