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Being the daughter of a minister, it's no surprise that Oleta Adams' roots are in gospel, as she often performed in her father's church. But her formal introduction to the masses began rather unexpectedly. While performing in a Kansas City hotel, Oleta Adams was discovered by Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears, and she was invited to participate in the recording of the British band's follow-up to the immensely popular 1985 album Songs From the Big Chair. When Tears for Fears unleashed the long-awaited The Seeds of Love in 1989, listeners were taken aback by the soulful female voice that was prominently featured on the album. Her vocal contributions to The Seeds of Love helped it generate generally positive reviews. In 1990, Tears for Fears' Roland Orzabal and Seeds of Love producer Dave Bascombe produced Oleta Adams' debut release, Circle of One. One of the album's standout tracks was a stunningly performed rendition of "Get Here," written and originally performed by Brenda Russell. Whereas Russell's version was a bit on the cutesy side, Adams virtually reinvented the song as an aching, gospel-tinged ballad. "Get Here" soared into the Top Ten, and the single's success helped Circle of One achieve gold status.
When Oleta Adams' second album, Evolution, was released in 1993, she inched closer toward the adult contemporary ballad schlock that has plagued such gifted vocalists as Anita Baker. Despite ample production from Stewart Levine (Patti LaBelle, Simply Red) and Oleta Adams' vocal prowess, generally weak material marred the album, though it included a stirring version of Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind." Released in 1995, Movin' On attempted a more R&B approach, but too much outside input made it a disjointed affair. The album boasted credits from producers, including Vassal Benford (Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton), Michael J. Powell (Anita Baker, James Ingram), and Alan Rich and Jud J. Friedman (Whitney Houston), but again the songs were weak, and the slick production undermined the raw intensity of Adams' always glorious vocals. The religious album Come Walk with Me followed in 1995, and she returned to R&B with 2001's All the Love. I Can't Live a Day Without You appeared from Wave Records in 2004, followed five years later by Let's Stay Here on Koch Records.
Oleta Adams (born May 4, 1953, Seattle, Washington) is an American soul, jazz, and gospel singer and pianist.
Adams was born the daughter of a preacher and was raised listening to gospel music. In her youth her family moved to Yakima, Washington, which is sometimes shown as her place of birth. She got her musical start in the black church.
Before gaining her opportunity to perform, Adams faced a great deal of rejection. In the 1970s, she moved to Los Angeles, California where she recorded a demo tape. However, many music executives were exclusively interested in disco music rather than Adams' preferred style.
With the advice of her singing coach, Lee Farrell, Adams moved to Kansas City where she did a variety of local gigs. Adams started her career in the early 1980s with two self-financed albums which had limited success.
Collaboration with Tears for Fears
In 1985, Adams was discovered by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, founders of the English band Tears for Fears, while she was performing in a hotel bar in Kansas City, Missouri whilst they were on a US tour. Two years later, they contacted her to invite her to join their band as a singer and pianist on their next album, The Seeds of Love.
In 1989, the album was released and the single "Woman in Chains"—sung as a duet by Adams and Orzabal and with Phil Collins on drums—became her first hit. Adams embarked on a world tour with Tears For Fears in 1990, performing by herself as the supporting artist at the start of each show, and remaining onstage throughout the Tears For Fears set where she would provide piano and vocals.VH1.com Biography Oleta Adams. (Retrieved: September 15, 2006)
Following her work with Tears For Fears, Adams was offered a recording contract by their label Fontana Records and restarted her solo career in 1990, assisted by Orzabal who co-produced her new album, Circle of One. The album received much critical acclaim and (after a slow start) eventually peaked at no.1 in the UK in 1991 after she scored her biggest hit to date with her Grammy nominated cover of Brenda Russell's "Get Here". The song reached the UK and US Top 5 and became popular during the 1991 Gulf War conflict as families of deployed troops in the region embraced the tune as a theme song. 1991 also saw Adams sign to independent music publisher Fairwood Music (UK) Ltd. and contribute to the Elton John/Bernie Taupin tribute album, Two Rooms, on which appeared her version of John's 1974 hit "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me". Adams' version became another top 40 hit in the UK.
Her next album, Evolution (1993), was also a commercial success, making the UK top 10. It also featured her self-penned adult contemporary single "Window of Hope". Her 1995 release, Moving On, saw Adams move more in the direction of R&B, and she also reunited with Roland Orzabal for the duet "Me and my Big Ideas" on the Tears For Fears album Raoul and the Kings of Spain the same year. Two years later she released the Christian themed album Come Walk with Me.
In 1998, she toured as a guest vocalist on Phil Collins's Big Band Jazz Tour.Norment, Lynn (August 1996). "Moving on and up with Oleta Adams: with new husband and renewed religious faith, soulful singer scores with new album". Ebony. Retrieved 2009-09-16. Circle of One spawned three Top-20 pop singles, including an impassioned take on Brenda Russell's "Get Here," which became a popular anthem during the Persian Gulf War. Schoenherr, Steven (2006-05-01). "Get Here by Oleta Adams, 1990". Songs in American History. Retrieved 2009-09-16. Get Here" became the unofficial anthem for the Gulf War (Desert Storm) in 1991. The lyrics express the longing for a loved one who's many miles away, and the different methods of transportation he can use to return. The song was sung to US troops in the Middle East whose loved ones were home in America, awaiting their return. Mann, Brent (2003). 99 Red Balloons and 100 Other All-Time Great One-Hit Wonders. New York: Bristol Park Books, Inc. p. 275. ISBN 978-0-88486-435-6.
In 2001, Adams released her sixth album, All The Love, a return to an R&B/Adult contemporary sound. The album was re-released in 2004 in Germany with a different title I Can't Live a Day without You.
In 2004, Adams reunited with Tears for Fears once again as she made a surprise guest appearance onstage at their Kansas City concert, performing "Woman in Chains".
Adams released her first Christmas album on October 3, 2006, entitled Christmas Time with Oleta.
A new secular album entitled Let's Stay Here, was released on April 21, 2009, by E1 Music.Official website News 9/10/2006. Retrieved September 15, 2006
In 1994, Adams married drummer John Cushon at a United Methodist church in Kansas City, where they both teached Sunday School. They met in 1980 while working on a demo tape for Adams. Adams stated that she never had a passion to get married but on January 17, 1994 she and Cushon were involved in the Los Angeles earthquake. Adams referred to this as a sign from God that she was ready to get married.Norment, Lynn (1996). "Moving on and up with Oleta Adams: with new husband and renewed religious faith, soulful singer scores with new album". Ebony.