Monday, November 16, 2009, 03:52 PM - Posted by AdministratorAdam James will be performing his Sinatra dedication show, Adam James: A Toast to Ol' Blue Eyes, this Saturday night at the Emelin.
Adam's thoughts on Sinatra:
"Frank Sinatra has been very good to me. He was my singing teacher. Listening to his recordings were almost all I needed to become a jazz singer. His phrasing, diction, style and love of a lyric have influenced me greatly as a musician just as he has influenced virtually every singer. Frank Sinatra was the greatest popular singer of the 20th Century. His music continues to define the 21st century and his personal life is legendary and filled with epic stories and myths. In my show "A Toast To Ol' Blue Eyes" at the Emelin on Saturday, I will explore Sinatra's music and life and his influence on my music and life. Expect to be entertained by myself and some of the best musicians in the world. We'll be performing hit songs and standards, pop tunes and even a couple originals. Having just finished the run of Sammy last week at The Old Globe Theater in San Diego where I was playing the role of Sinatra for three months, I'm very excited to perform my own show for you. Come Fly With Me and I'll see you Saturday..." -Adam
Here's a closer look at the artist, his career, new album and more.
Since his success with the Montreal group, Panache, and their three CD releases in the 90's, Adam has traveled the world while beginning work on his first solo recording, due to be released soon. "I wasn't waiting, I was listening, writing and re-writing," says Adam, referring to the gap of eight years between recordings. "I lived and experienced more of the world, and I have distilled it into a lot of songs." The new CD contains six originals works and seven covers, providing a nice balance between Adam's experience as a writer and as an accomplished interpreter of the writers he admires. "I am a singer and songwriter but not in the classic folk/pop style that is usually associated with that title. My influences are Cole Porter and Irving Berlin fused with Sting, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, and James Taylor. I was raised listening to my parents' folk and pop music, but in high school, I discovered my grandfather's collection of jazz. Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra's records shaped my singing style and gave me a love for the standards. When I started college in Montreal, I became a crooner and made three CDs with Panache while playing in jazz clubs and concerts all over the place. We opened for Ray Charles at the Montreal Jazz Festival which was a great career endorsement."
Adam's early success with Panache prepared him for his lifelong dream of living and performing in New York. On September 1, 2001, he moved to Manhattan where his talents quickly spread internationally. "Moving to New York made me a better writer and a more complete artist. I became more interested in the world outside my own window, and I wanted to pursue a deeper understanding of other cultures. I traveled to Brazil and recorded some of my original material with musicians in Rio. I jammed with players in Havana and discovered that language is unnecessary to communicate. Your music can speak for you."
When not traveling, Adamís skills as an on-stage performer earned him star roles in two off-Broadway shows and numerous jazz club appearances. Through these varied experiences, his approach to music gradually began to change. "New York made me an entertainer, not just a musician. I realized that my contribution was going to be writing music by day in my teeny-tiny apartment and then performing for very savvy audiences at night. New Yorkers have seen and heard it all, so I learned from watching the best performers in the Broadway, cabaret and concert business in very intimate venues. I often saw the glitz and glamour of the business stripped down to the honest and bare art form. I learned that the great performers take the great risks. In New York, you have to face risks to be noticed."
Overtime, Adam developed a successful Pops show that has toured North America, performing with Symphony Orchestras and Big Bands as diverse as The Freese Brothers Orchestra in Concord, New Hampshire to top tier orchestras like The Detroit Symphony. "There is nothing like singing with all those strings and the power of a symphony behind you - such energy." As his touring would take him from his home in New York for long stretches of time, Adam decided to switch his home base back to Toronto, after a five-year absence from Canada.
Adamís focus changed in 2004 at the arrival of Dave Pierce. Often referred by the media as "Canada's next David Foster," Dave recruited Adam to co-write original songs for The Calgary Stampede's Grandstand Show AKA, "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth." Adam was also tapped to sing, dance, act, and lead the cast of 300 performers in the 10-night extravaganza. "Writing with Dave became a perfect fit. I would start an idea for a lyric, and we would bend the melody around while he harmonized and recorded the song on the computer. The process was much more efficient than I had been used to when working by myself."
It was with Dave that Adam began to formulate his first solo CD. "When we started writing songs for the CD, we both brought different and varying styles to the project - ballads, funk, soul, big band swingers. We decided to just write songs that worked for me, regardless of sticking to one musical style. We wanted to see what we ended up with when it was time to put the CD together as opposed to confining it to the pop/jazz style only. The CD also includes some Motown inspired sounds and a bossa nova; these were the styles of music around which I had grown up. This new album recording essentially sums up my singing history."
The album's opening song, "Someone Like You" captures in its first line a glimpse of Adamís lifestyle for the last five years: "Ain't got a key on my ring." "I've been traveling so much that I realized I didnít actually carry keys anymore to any specific lock. They were always hotel key cards or I would stay with friends and family. It was at times kind of liberating, and at times accompanied by a feeling of homelessnessĖ but in a good way. I also like the double meaning of 'Someone Like You.' It describes someone I am searching for while also communicating that I am just as you are."
A second song on Adam's new CD release, "Fly Away," was written while Adam was traveling on the road for a few months between recordings. His favorite song lyrically, Adam wrote it in reflection on the little endearing things that initially draw one person to another, and the freedom that must be shared between the two to truly be in love. "I wanted to show that a loving relationship is a two-sided conversation. In it, no one person is dominate over the other. "Fly Away" proposes the simple and yet complex goal of having freedom in a relationship. The line, 'This cage has no bars, just my arms to hold you, this cage has no lock no key' represents a boundary in a relationship that is up for discussion or subject to interpretation. It signifies an individual's freedom in the relationship to be his or her own unique person."
When asked how Adam gets the inspiration for his songs, he describes that most are inspired by his daily conversations, and interpretations of his surroundings, namely his observance of relationships and how people communicate. "The key to writing a song is keeping it simple for the audience to understand and feel. This can be a challenge when attempting to communicate a complex issue or subject," Adam explains. Being a drummer, Adam also hears music through rhythms and writes his songs and melodies based on the rhythm of words. "I will use classic devices like forms and rhyming schemes, but I am always looking to make interesting sounds or invented words."
In the midst of Adam's day-to-day, he is often seen writing a line or two on post-it notes, mini notebooks, or even through audio recording on his cell phone. "Thousands of ideas will be turned into a few thousand songs of which a few hundred will be finished, and only the best will be recorded by myself and sometimes by other artists."
When on stage in front of an audience, Adam has learned that being comfortable with himself as a performer is key to having an audience feel comfortable enough with him to entertain them. "When I sing to an audience, we are having a conversation, both energetic and emotional. I respond to the energy coming from a crowd, share in it, then give the energy right back. This requires more than just musical talent, but an emotional vulnerability from both the performer and the listener. Here the performance becomes a conversation, and the audienceís response can be overwhelming. It's a great feeling," says Adam.
With the world at Adam's fingertips at the new release of his latest CD, Adam's goal is to continue to share his original music with audiences everywhere through live performances and recordings. He defines success not merely in his role as a performer, but in the positive recognition of peers and colleagues through their appreciation of his songs.