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Since the runaway success of her 1990 platinum-selling 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 via 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, Phil Collins, Michael Bolton, and Luther Vandross, has been solidified by four Grammy nominations and a seemingly bottomless well of creative energy.

The youngest of three girls and two boys, Adams spent her formative years in Seattle before traveling over the mountains at age six to Yakima, Washington, an idyllic town of 60,000. She first demonstrated her budding vocal gifts in the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church where her father served as minister. By the time she was eleven, she was directing and accompanying four choirs, having already established herself as a piano prodigy. Turning down the chance to pursue an operatic career as a lyric soprano, along with a scholarship to Pacific Lutheran University, she instead spent a summer in Europe and spent some time in Los Angeles before winding up in Kansas City, where she launched her career playing piano bars, hotel lounges, and showrooms.

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 US, Adams signed a record deal for her first solo album in 1991. The rest, as they say, is history.

With nine CDs to her name (including forays into secular, gospel, and Christmas music), worldwide acclaim, and over two-and-a-half million albums sold, Adams's musical odyssey continues both spiritually and creatively. Her most recent release, 2009's Let's Stay Here, is a creative and evocative project with a soulful jazz influence and songs that project many tantalizing thoughts. Producing this album herself a remarkable achievement, and for Adams, it was simply another step in her artistic development. For this consummate artist, composer, producer, and musician, many goals remain on the horizon.

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OLETA ADAMS
April 12, 2013
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