Gold/Platinum 4XGrammy Nominated Artist, Oleta Adams, The Voice, The Piano, The Woman Behind It All!
Updated: Nov 24, 2022
Oleta Adams has worked with artists such as Tears for Fears, Phil Collins, Michael Bolton, Luther Vandross, and many others throughout her career. She is unique, and her stage presence, class, and voice are unmatched! Oleta Adams started her career as a gospel artist, later transitioning to singing soul, R&B, urban, and popular music. The platinum-certified Circle of One and the hit single "Get Here" became unofficial anthems of the 1991 Gulf War, as well as many couples experiencing location separation around the globe. Oleta Adams continues to be an inspiration. I had the pleasure of catching up with this fantastic artist to talk about her life as a recording artist. Here's what she shared.
Good morning, is this the beautiful, fabulous, amazing Oleta Adams?
Absolutely! That's very sweet of you; thank you.
You're so welcome. I am a fan of your music, and I think your voice is incredibly unique and melodically soothing. It’s truly an honor and a privilege to speak with you today. Well, thank you very much.
My pleasure! So, Ms. Admas, where are you from? I'm from the Pacific Northwest. I was born in Seattle and raised between Seattle and Yakima, WA. Growing up, I enjoyed doing the things that normal kids do. I grew up singing and directing in my father's church.
How old were you at that time? At the age of 11, I started directing four choirs at our church. I played the piano for all the church services, so that's how I acquired my skill. I enjoyed singing in choirs, at school, and around town. One of my high school teachers mentored me, the music teacher who got me into the business and trained me vocally. From that point, I played all around the Country.
That's awesome! Let me ask you, what does a typical day look like for you? Typically, I start each day with my husband. We enjoy drinking coffee or tea together in the morning and discussing his strange dreams. (laughs)
He’s a dreamer? Yes, he’s a dreamer. (laughs) It’s amazing how my husband vividly remembers all the details. I sit there and listen; I fix the coffee, then we sort our day. Taking care of the housework comes first for me.
Before practicing for a project, I must complete my household chores. Then, I go to my studio to sing and practice. My schedule sometimes includes writing charts, but whatever's on my agenda, I'll get it done after I've completed my chores. When I have interviews, I'll schedule them as early as possible. Work stops around 5:30 or 6:00 pm in the evening, and we come together for dinner.
Dinner is mainly prepared by who? He fixes dinner.
Awesome! Yes, of course. Following dinner, we watch a movie to calm ourselves down. We usually go to bed early; however, I like to stay up late, so it takes me a while to fall asleep. As soon as we wake up the following day, we restart the whole process.
Wow, that's awesome! My husband is also a dreamer, and some of the dreams he told me, are mind-blowing! Sometimes I'll say, let's pray about this and see what God is trying to say here. Right, exactly!
Some of His dreams are bizarre and scary but so are mine sometimes. They're so crazy sometimes you're even afraid to say anything because you don't want your spouse to think something. You can't help what you dream about. (laughs) Yeah, and then I sit there saying, “well, you know I would never do that. He says, “I know, but in my dream, that’s what you did.” (laughs)
I know you're like, “stop looking at me like that!” (laughs) Exactly! What's strange about dreams is that sometimes you can carry those feelings around all day.
Yeah. You walk around feeling weird and strange all day long.
Exactly, it's just crazy! From my understanding, most dreams combine the many things that go through our minds daily. At the same time, I believe God can speak to us through our dreams and warn us of future things. I find it relatively easy to shift through my dreams because if they make no sense and have no connection to anything I can recall, those are usually nonsense dreams.
The only dreams I pay attention to are those that are fluid. Nevertheless, dreams remain one of life's greatest mysteries.
When that happens, I'll ask God to reveal what He is trying to communicate. Now the dreams where the eyeballs grow out of the arms; that's crazy! (laughs) That's right, it's like, what movie did you watch? (Laughs) Usually, we can pick up bits and pieces and attribute them to a commercial or movie we've watched or a previous conversation. Sometimes things get caught in our subconscious minds, so it's nice to track them down. However, there is a whole lot of trash to be emptied.
You mentioned earlier that you are a pastor's daughter and grew up in church. Was there ever a time in your teens when you went through a season of rebellion? Yes, I rebelled a lot. In my teens, not so much, but more so around 18 years old. That's when I said to myself, OK, I'm going to leave home to do what I want; I'm grown now.
I remember receiving my driver's license and reading the words 'adult' written on it. I showed my mom my license and said, do you see what it says right there? It says, "adult.". "She said that doesn't mean anything to me." (laughs)
Black families don't care anything about you being an adult. Regardless of how old you get, that doesn't mean anything to them. If you're still living in their home, as far as they're concerned, you're still a child. Yeah! (laughs) That's exactly right, but I left the church for about 17 years.
Coming from a fundamentalist background, I told God, "You know what? I'll get back to you when I feel capable of doing things right." At that time, I didn't fully comprehend Grace.
I did quite a bit of research and checked out other studies. Once you experience this whole spiritual life, you don't feel good on your own, so I studied metaphysics and whatever else I could find. Rather than substituting, I was seeking an alternative.
Having read many books, I came across an old book called "The Hidden Man" by E.W Kenyon that expressed grace in such a beautiful way that our church didn't explain it. Grace has never been taught as comprehensively as I learned in this book.
Everything was Hellfire, damnation, and brimstone, and I didn't feel good about it. I felt like they were using scare tactics to scare people into righteousness. I don’t like that idea because He’s supposed to be a loving God.
So, this book put it in such a beautiful way that it led me back to Christ 1n 1987. After reading that book, my whole life changed. In my case, it was an immediate decision, but God had a plan for my future. Then things changed; I encountered "Tears for Fears," and the rest is history.
As the daughter of a pastor, I can relate. Although you may have been raised in a certain way, there comes a time in your life when you must choose Christ Jesus on your own. For example, having a child does not mean that your child will choose you as a friend when they become an adult. Some children grow up and don’t even like their parents.
Having a child effectively binds you together. You do the best you can and learn how to love and get along with each other even though the child did not ask to be present, and the parents sometimes did not intend to have a child, but you do the best you can. There are times when things work out in the end and other times when they do not. As they grow up, they must decide if they want to be friends with you. And it's the same when it comes to your relationship with Christ. You may have been raised in the church, but that doesn't mean you understand what it means to be a Christian. Every Christian must know why they want to be a Christian and what it means to be a Christian at some point in their lives. At this point, you will take your relationship with the Lord to a new level, and it will stick and take root in your life from then on. When I became an adult, I, too, had to give my life to Christ on my own. It wasn't because my parents took me to church but because I had to know who Jesus was for myself, and I'm so glad I did. I'm a Christian now because I chose to be a Christian. That's true. There was so much stuff that I had to sort and sift through in my journey to figure out which parts of my faith I would embrace. There were some things I was taught that I had to say to myself, "that is not my perception of God or who I consider God to be." After that, I moved forward with my life.
Rather than relying on what someone tells you, I think the search should be individual. It’s a good thing to do a lot of praying and reading. You can find anything if you seek it out. I sorted through my bag and discarded anything that disturbed me or was difficult to reconcile.
I don't see God as vengeful; I don't think a God of love will do that. To me, a God of love is always going to have mercy. A God of love is always going to be forgiving and accepting. I also believe that a perfect human being is perfectly imperfect. It's only through God's grace and kindness toward us that makes us perfect. We can't do that by ourselves.
He wants you to talk to Him, rely on Him, and allow Him to be in every part of your life and everything. That’s my own personal beliefs, and anything else is none of my business. What you have worked out with God that's your business. My thing is to be compassionate, to love Him above all else, and to love my neighbor as myself.
The love of God is indeed eternal! We are having a very interesting conversation. I want to take you back in time and park there for a moment. In your childhood, who was your best friend, and what kind of mischief did you get into with your friend that you are sure your parents would have killed you for if they knew? Oh wow! When I was in elementary school, I remember I had a best friend name Vicky Luckett, and she was tough. She was a fighter. She could run fast, but I wasn’t very athletic.
Although I was a good kid, I didn’t want to be; I wanted to be like everyone else. So, when she acted tough, I tried to be tough too. In addition to that, I didn't want to do my work right either. So, Mr. Lind, my 5th-grade teacher, decided that he would write a letter to my mom and tell her what I was doing, and then suddenly, I wasn't so cool anymore. (laughs)
I had to change because I had a soft heart. This idea of being a tough school kid didn't last long. So, as a child, that was one of my naughtiest acts.
In those days, we knew that if we acted up in school, we would get a swift one on the backside. (laughs) Exactly.
Wow, that's awesome! Out of all your family members, who do you resemble the most, and in what ways? My great uncle and great aunt raised me, but I also know who my biological parents are. Thinking about it now, I have to say I'm probably more like my birth mother. I get my voice from my father, and my toughness comes from my mother. Like her, I summarize things by listening and watching. She was also a leader and a great organizer. So yes, I'm more like my biological mother.
You started off your career as an independent artist. Let’s talk about your experiences. Playing the piano can open many doors for you. Though I started as the singer who hired bands, I had a couple of instances where the main keyboard player left on the day of the show. I was forced to play the piano because they walked out.
I could play for myself, write charts, arrange arrangements, and hire a band. This is where my years of experience playing for a church choir came in handy. Furthermore, I am grateful to Lee Farrell, who taught me the art of reading and writing music in high school. This was what enabled me to direct the songs I sang. I spoke the language. Over those years, I developed a musical education by working in clubs around the country.
Do you have a favorite genre of music? That whole mix of styles shaped my style. My mentor taught me how to sing these songs in a way that would preserve my voice because initially, I wanted to go into classical music as a lyric soprano, and she said no, it's the chest voice that's going to do It for you. Mentorship gave me the skills I needed to become an individual package, allowing me to fit into many different scenarios. Until I met "Tears for Fears," I was my own boss. Playing the piano was rare among women in those days.
As you know, I have a low voice. Hearing a woman with such a low tone singing and playing the piano was rare. Even in pop and R&B music genres, there were guys who sang higher than me.