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Oleta Adams

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Biography

When Oleta Adams hit the Top 40 of the U.K. and U.S. pop charts as the featured vocalist behind Tears for Fears' "Woman in Chains" (1989), the singer, songwriter, and pianist was virtually unknown outside her native Yakima, Washington or her adopted home of Kansas City, Kansas. Following the unexpected boost to her career, which stretched back many years to her church upbringing and included self-funded recordings and a hotel residency, Adams established herself globally as a headliner in her own right. Circle of One (1990), the source of a Top Five pop, Grammy-nominated version of Brenda Russell's "Get Here," quickly capitalized upon on the momentum and was certified gold. This effectively cut a path for numerous tours and studio recordings throughout the subsequent decades, covering secular and gospel work characterized by Adams' resolutely stirring voice. Commercially most successful in the U.K., her additional Top 40 singles include a cover of the Elton John/Bernie Taupin composition "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (1991) and her own "Never Knew Love" (1995). The daughter of a Baptist minister, Oleta Adams' roots are in the church. She spent the first few years of her life in Seattle, Washington and moved at the age of six with her family to Yakima. In addition to singing in choirs, she was accompanying them on piano, and was also directing, prior to becoming a teenager. Later offered a scholarship to study opera at Pacific Lutheran University, Adams instead opted to give the music industry a shot, but a demo was met with disinterest from disco-minded executives. Encouraged by a vocal coach, Adams established her career in the Midwest -- specifically Kansas City, Kansas, far away from music industry hubs. A hotel residency, which exposed her to a multitude of touring artists, proved to be more beneficial than a pair of self-funded albums independently released during the early '80s. Tears for Fears' Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith saw a performance during a Songs from the Big Chair tour stop and sought her to contribute piano, keyboards, and vocals to their 1989 album, The Seeds of Love. Its second single, the ballad "Woman in Chains," showcased Adams' voice and was a Top 40 hit in over ten territories, including Tears for Fears' native U.K. and the U.S. Adams subsequently became Tears for Fears' labelmates on Fontana. Produced by Orzabal and fellow Seeds of Love co-producer Dave Bascombe, Circle of One was released in 1990. It topped the U.K. chart, peaked at number 20 in the U.S., and achieved gold status in both territories with the hits "Rhythm of Life" and "Get Here." The latter single, a Brenda Russell cover, became a cross-continental Top Five pop hit and was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. Another cover hit was scored in 1991 with "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," Adams' contribution to Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin. It too led to a Grammy nomination, this time in the R&B field. Adams released her second Fontana album, Evolution, in 1993. Produced by Stewart Levine, it inched her closer toward adult contemporary R&B in the vein of Anita Baker and fared best in the U.K., where it reached number ten. Moving On, her third and final project for Fontana, arrived in 1995 with Michael Powell the primary producer. The set was highlighted by "Never Knew Love," a Top 40 U.K. entry Adams co-wrote. Following her run with Fontana, Adams has recorded for a series of subsidiaries and independents, and has remained a consistent live draw across the globe. The gospel-oriented Come Walk with Me, released on Harmony in 1997, saw her continue to work closely with Powell and was warmly received, earning a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album. Adams then continued to emphasize secular material, and during the following decade released three proper albums: All the Love (Pioneer, 2001), I Can't Live a Day Without You (Wave Music, 2004), and Let's Stay Here (E1, 2009). Following an extended break from studio activity, Adams returned during the latter half of the 2010s with Third Set (self-released, 2017), an organic recording featuring a new version of "Rhythm of Life" amid material originally composed by the likes of Cole Porter, Bob Dylan, and Joni Mitchell. ~ Andy Kellman
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   Get Here
  3.   Embraceable You
  4.   Rhythm of Life
  5.   The Christmas Song
  6.   Feelin' Good
  7.   Woman in Chains
  8.   Learning to Love You More
  9.   The Power of Sacrifice
  10.   Window of Hope
  11.   I Knew You When
  12.   We Will Meet Again
  13.   The Captain of My Ship
  14.   Let It Snow
  15.   I Will Love You
  16.   Picture You the Way That I Do
  17.   Alleluia, Alleluia (Peace on Earth)
  18.   Look What Love Has Done to Me
  19.   In the Beginning
  20.   This Is Real
  21.   My Heart Won't Lie
  22.   Circle of Love
  23.   Hold Me for a While
  24.   Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me
  25.   Beams of Heaven
  26.   If You're Willing
  27.   Come and Walk With Me
  28.   Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
  29.   Don't Look Too Closely
  30.   In a Sentimental Mood
  31.   Never Far Away
  32.   Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  33.   Winter Wonderland
  34.   Love Was Spoken Here
  35.   Love Begins at Home
  36.   Will We Ever Learn
  37.   You Need to Be Loved
  38.   Act of Forgiveness
  39.   Everything Must Change
  40.   When Love Was Spoken Here
  41.   Moon River
  42.   I Wonder as I Wander (Appalachian Carol)
  43.   A Bump in the Road
  44.   New York State of Mind
  45.   A Lover's Holiday
  46.   I've Got to Sing My Song
  47.   Circle of One
  48.   What Price
  49.   Holy Is the Lamb
  50.   Of the Father's Love Begotten/Hark the Herald
  51.   Breath of Heaven
  52.   I Hope You Dance
  53.   Evolution
  54.   Never Knew Love
  55.   I Hope You Dance by Paul Peterson
  56.   Yesterday
  57.   No Way to Love Me
  58.   Don't Explain
  59.   Another Day Has Come and Gone
  60.   Silent Night
  61.   There's Still My Joy
  62.   Christmas Time Is Here
  63.   All the Love
  64.   Sweet Side of Life
  65.   Waters of March (Aguas de Março)
  66.   The Day I Stop Loving You
  67.   (Baby I'll) Come When You Call
  68.   When Love Comes to the Rescue
  69.   New Star
  70.   If This Love Should Ever End
  71.   Slow Motion
  72.   Once in a Lifetime
  73.   I've Got a Right
  74.   This Love Won't Fail
  75.   Many Rivers to Cross
  76.   I Can't Live a Day Without You
  77.   I Just Had to Hear Your Voice
  78.   You've Got to Give Me Room
  79.   We Can't Stay Here
  80.   Just Before I Go to Sleep
  81.   In A Sentimental Mood
  82.   Life Keeps Moving On
  83.   Easier To Say Goodbye
  84.   The Days of Wine and Roses
  85.   Let's Stay Here
  86.   Best That I Can Do
  87.   When You Walked into My Life
  88.   Long Distance Love
  89.   Wash, O God, Our Sons & Daughters
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