"I come from a family of painters, writers, actors, designers,
and singers, so I guess a passion for expressing myself is
in my blood."
This passion of Opie Bellas, a jazz singer and so much more,
has grabbed the attention of producers, bookers, and fans
around the world. The packed concert halls in Cape Town, South
Africa are evidence
of this. The producer of these concerts, Swiss businessman
and Jazz connoisseur Serge Jeannet had heard of Opie, listened
to her CDs and fell in love with her style. She proved to
be such a success with her sold-out appearances at Jazz at
the Nassau that the producers insisted she return the following
She returned yet again, performing under the auspices
Jazz Foundation of South Africa.
Opie performed at the Queensland (Australia) Jazz and Arts
Festivals, Kool Jazz, Mellon Jazz, Montclair Jazz Festival,
to name a few. Her jazz travels have taken her to Osaka, Fukui, and Kanazawa Japan, Vals,
Switzerland where she performed at Hotel Therme, designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, winner of the 2009 Pritzker Prize.
A singer just doesn't pop into these cities and ask, "Hey, have you got any gigs for me?" What is instead at work in Opie Bellas' international career is the effort she has made to establish a reputation as a jazz singer people want to pay attention to.
This effort began at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
where Opie trained as a classical vocalist. "I learned how
powerful the human voice can be in expressing the full range
of emotions. When technique and heart come together, that's
what singing is all about for me." Listen to her CD "How
Do You Keep the Music Playing" for example, and you will
hear a singer gifted with both delectable phrasing and feeling.
Her CD "Faces" was produced
by and recorded at the Grammy Award winning Manchester
Craftsmen's Guild and went on to reach the U.S Top 50
on the JazzWeek Charts.
Her recording, Live For
Life features Chamber Orchestra and Jazz Quartet and caught
the discerning ear of New York music scholar, author and WNYC
presenter Jonathan Schwartz. Live
For Life was Orchestrated and arranged by Michael Moricz,
and was named among the year's Top Releases by New York music
critics Jeff Rossen and John Hoglund. Opie performed
with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as part of a
tribute to the music of Fred Rogers, under the direction
Michael Moricz. Keeping company with Opie were Renee Fleming,
Tommy Tune, and John Lithgow. Good company, indeed. Speaking
of that TV Neighborhood and great jazz in Pittsburgh, Opie
had a grand time gigging with the late Johnny Costa, the long-time
musical director of Fred Rogers' show and a wonderful jazz
pianist. "Johnny floored me," Opie has said. "He always reminded
me of Art Tatum." Michael Moricz followed Johnny as Musical
Director. "Michael and I share a long and fulfilling
musical history together."
We realize that Opie is as comfortable in the concert hall
as she is in more intimate clubs. "I love singing to large
audiences, and I think my classical training has let me be
at ease when working with symphony orchestras." Those intimate
clubs on Opie's resume have included Danny's in New York,
where the venerable Blossom Dearie made her musical home,
Town Hall, The Plush Room, and Yoshi's, the West Coast's premier
jazz club. Ms Bellas is also an in-demand performer in the
California Wine Country, combining her passions for Food,
Wine, and Music.
Opie's talents have also extended to an impressive range
of voice work. She has provided an array of voices for Leapfrog
Learning Toys and has also delighted our kids by playing
a variety of characters for numerous recordings of children's
books for MacMillan Publishing. She's been heard on the California Lottery TV
commercial, and the astute fans of National Public Radio welcomed
her as the host of its Concert Matinee for a number of years.
Ms. Bellas has also been known to play a mean game of tennis. But relax. In concert halls, clubs, and in the recording studio she serves up nothing but love.
- Milton Elbogen
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