Happy Holidays, my Friends!
The longer I live, the more I’m starting to believe that somewhere- somehow- there’s a secret society of very powerful people who are in control of TIME. I’m absolutely sure that somehow, they’ve managed to speed up the clocks all around the world. I say this because it seems like only a few months ago that we were celebrating the new year of 2007. And lo, the holidays are here again. Actually my mom warned me of this when I was a child. She said that once you hit twenty-five, the days would seem to fly by.
And so here we are welcoming the Advent season. I have so many fond memories of this year, not the least of which is the memory of starting 2007 by celebrating my husband, John’s birthday. The BIG one! There’s nothing like getting off of a tour and putting together a surprise party. I had so much fun bringing friends and family together and watching John’s face as his childhood friends and college roommates surprised him. I think we all need to take a moment to celebrate the lives and friendships that we’ve been blessed to have over the years.
I want to thank all of our New York friends for supporting us so beautifully for the past five years on Valentine’s Day at B.B. King’s. We had so many special moments that we’ll cherish for many years to come. We will not be there on the next Valentine’s Day, but we will be at that club on April 19, 2008, so I hope you’ll all plan to join us.
I want to also thank our Boston friends for supporting us as well. We jammed the people in the club so tightly until we gave new meaning to the term, “close friends”. We’ll be back in Boston on March 7th and 8th of ’08.
Our fans and friends at the Ram’s Head Tavern in Annapolis, MD and the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA have continued to make me wanna holler because they’ve shown up and showed-out on our “Crabcake Tour”. We’re looking forward to going back in 2008. Thanks so much... I can’t wait! (And incidentally, for those of you who are wondering, the home renovations haven’t been completed yet. It’s as if we’ll NEVER be done with wood rot and water stains, replacing windows and we’re still working on the kitchen and the master bedroom! And P-A-I-N-T-I-N-G!!!)
We’ve made three trips to Holland this year and each one for a completely different kind of show. In February we helped to welcome the premiere of the movie, “Dreamgirls” in Amsterdam where we joined Cor Bakker and his band onstage at the Tuschinski theater for five nights doing a Motown review. That was unbelievably fun with such high energy in a beautiful theater that you’ve just got to see to believe. I sang some songs I had never sung before, though I had enjoyed them the first time around “back-in-the-day!” And I didn’t even bother playing the piano since Cor is such a genius on the keys.
The second trip to Holland was for the “Pure Jazz Festival” in The Hague where I had the pleasure of working with a very talented trumpeter from Atlanta named, Philip Harper. It added a completely different texture to my music and was so inspiring as we performed some of our favorite jazz standards. And isn’t it funny how life can bring you full circle. I remember singing for the Rotary Club as a young teen. As recently as November, we traveled back to Holland to help support the Rotary International of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, as they raised funds to help children who are seriously ill and those who are in desperate need of financial and academic aide. What a tremendous time we had with this warm audience, as we once again were able to work with our Dutch crew who’ve become like a family to us over the years. I’m so grateful to the Dutch fans for their continued support.
We went back to South Africa earlier this year and shared the stage with talented artists like India Arie and our South African friends, Rebecca Malope, Judith Sephuma and Sibongile Khumalo, just to name a few. Although our side trip to the Lions and Rhino Park was absolutely thrilling, it could never compete with the awesome experience of hearing twenty-five thousand South African people singing along with their African artists. And when they started to dance, you can be sure that you will NOT be standing still beside them! Simply AMAZING!
I’ve been working on two CDs for KOCH Records this year and I’m happy to say they will be released in 2008. The completion of these projects have been complicated by trying to balance the live performances and travel with working in the studio. One of the projects was done with my bassist and friend, Paul Peterson with whom I have worked since 2000. Paul has worked with Donny Osmond and currently with Kenny Loggins, but is best known for his work with “The Family”, a group founded by Prince. He also teaches at the Institute of Production and Recording (IPR) in Minneapolis, MN and as a part of his summer school class project I was fortunate to work with Paul and Tommy Tucker, award winning engineer and founder of IPR and his students demonstrating in real time the process of making a record. I really enjoyed working with these young men who are preparing to become professional recording engineers and successful musicians. I can’t wait for you to hear the magical moments that my friends in Minneapolis helped me to create.
Once again I solicited the aid of my friend, Dave Lohr to engineer this next CD for me as he so beautifully did the “Christmas Time With Oleta” Cd. He does a great job of getting the music recorded and he’s such a great person to work with. I know, I know, it’s been too long between Cds. And while I’m saying thank you to so many others, I must express my deepest gratitude to my band for their continued loyalty over ten-plus years of traveling from one part of the globe to another. Jimmy Dykes, Everett Freeman Jr., Paul Peterson, Michael Manson, Dwight Watkins, engineers Michael Montero and Earl Driggers and my husband, John Cushon are the ones who’ve helped to bring the shows to you even as they continue to pursue their own individual careers.
I’m very blessed to be surrounded by some very great people. Special thanks to Shane Lynch for keeping my websites going throughout the year and for making sure that you have access to my CD products and autographed photos. Thanks to my accountant, Brigid who is absolutely the best! And I’m very thankful for my manager, Chevy Nash who keeps busy helping me to fulfill my dreams. Blessings to all of these splendidly talented people for the important roles they’ve played in helping me to be successful.
T’is the season to be thankful for the gifts that God has given us as well as the challenges that we’ve faced throughout the year. I hope and pray that with each new day, we’ll remember how we’ve arrived at this very place, even and especially if it was merely by a simple act of FAITH.
Happiness and Joy throughout the coming new year!
With love from Oleta