Jamie O’Reilly

The heart of a singer is a tender thing. I don’t mean the fierce, trained vocalist who makes an appearance with all its chops and technique and musical pedigree.  I mean the sensitive spirit who hummed along to children’s rhymes, and held her own in family gatherings.  The one who feels pure joy singing an aria or an art-song. That girl!  (-from blog https://www.jamieoreilly.com/that-girl319/)


Jamie’s 2019 NEWS!
Jamie is working on a new set of romantic songs with pianist John Erickson.
Hear us on Feb 15, 2019 at Wishbone North, Chicago in a Valentine Salon with Anne Hills.
More here

This spring this website will have a redesign. New content.  More music.  More blogs.

Listen to songs from Jamie’s song archive here: https://www.jamieoreilly.com/jamies-songbird-songs/

“Jamie is especially gifted, with her vibrant voice and a passion for life.”  (Studs Terkel)

“Jamie not only has the voice of an angel, but possesses an adventurous spirit that allows her to create shows and moments and memories that are real and lasting…She is a Chicago treasure.”  (Rick Kogan, WGN Radio, Chicago Tribune)

“Your voice was gifted to you but then your soulful spirit took it deeper. Some sing the notes, some take those notes and it becomes MUSIC. When you sing, your voice is pure, bell-like.  You bring your story to your audience, phrasing each lyric with a genuine delivery. ” (a fan)


2019! I am thrilled to revisit the lovely songs I first sang when I was coming up as a voice student, and went on to sing for concerts, tributes and special cultural series throughout the Chicago area!  I’m calling it Jamie O’Reilly: SONGBIRD. Accompanied by piano.

Jamie presents music is by folk and art song repertoire, old world cabaret, and ethnic music: celtic, gypsy and Americana ballads, with a lilting voice, of broad range, tinged with the musical stylings of 30s/40s era songbirds. She performs accompanied by acoustic ensembles of guitars, piano and more.

The current set of songs debuted at the Chicago Cultural Center for the centenary of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition. (It’s WHITE CITY theme is popular now.)  And later I sang those songs and others as a cabaret with my Trio. And as an Irish Vaudeville program at the Irish Heritage Center. This is an evening of songs and stories exploring the circuitous route of love.  Vocal selections range from romantic and sultry ballads and folksongs, to parlor songs and standards from the 1920s – 40s, from classic American songbook.

There are song samples here: http://www.jamieoreilly.com/jamies-songbird-songs/


Jamie winter

Performer, producer, agent, media personality

Many titles in the arts nomenclature can be assigned to Jamie O’Reilly.  It is her love of singing, an expansive creative spirit, and a fiercely held belief in the value of the artist in community that fuel her active and vibrant world.  




J. O’Reilly Productions  makes artist services a primary focus of its mission.  Jamie began represents songwriter Michael Smith.  Presenters across the US and Canada, express deep love and respect for Michael, “one of the best songwriters in the English language”, whose rich career history spans five decades.  Jamie’s exclusive Artist Roster is expanding one talented person at a time.  She advises and contributes to media production and PR.  Jamie showcases writers, musicians and visual artists in the Salon Series of Roots Salon. 

Michael, Jamie 1996

Michael, Jamie


“Together their musical palette is pretty astonishing”.
(Chicago Magazine)

In 1994, Jamie began a creative collaboration with Michael Smith, performing and recording songs he wrote and arranged for her. (Swimming Deeper CD). They created a niche for themselves with a popular series of folk-cabarets. The Lunar Cabaret, a performance hot-spot in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, became the launching pad for Pasiones: Songs of the Spanish Civil War, Hello Dali (with Beau O’Reilly and Jenny Magnus) and Scarlet Confessions (with Paul Amandes and Anne Hills).

In Songs of a Catholic Childhood, they reflect on life in parochial school. The concert features personal stories and musical selections from the soundtrack that accompanied their formative years: Michael’s in the working class Irish/Italian neighborhoods of post-WWII in New Jersey – Jamie’s as one of 14 kids, in the post-Vatican II-Baby Boom era, outside Chicago.  A live CD recording is available.

“There’s something about the way you sing and the way he plays that really does connect people with their feelings and intellect, using both right brain and left brain.” (M. Richman, Music Therapy innovator)

Michael, Jamie, Peter 1996

Michael, Jamie, Peter 1996

Program sample
In 2013, Jamie and Michael created And the Poet Sang, with guitarist Peter Swenson as guests of the Poetry Foundation.  The program featured some of their finest material with original song-settings of poems by ranging from Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, Bertold Brecht, F. Garcia Lorca and essayist Anne Carson to Chicago poets David Hernandez and the late Patricia Monaghan. Settings of the work of the Shulamites of Lebanon, ancient Irish and Chinese poets are among the selections.  Highlights from this program are often part of their work.  See more literary programs here.

foto by IwonaPRODUCER
As a Theatre Producer, Jamie is known for the powerful productions she brings to the stage, and the projects she brings to the recording studio, among these are Pasiones: Songs of the Spanish Civil War, (with Katrina O’Reilly), and the award-winning Hello Dali: From the Sublime to the Surreal, a box office hit during the 2001 Victory Gardens Theater’s Tony-Award winning season. Other celebrated programs include Songs of the Kerry Madwoman, which sets the poetry of Patricia Monaghan. The Gift of the Magi, performed with WGN Radio Host Rick Kogan, has been a highlight.  In 2014, Jamie produced End of Life/Afterlife, an arts festival in collaboration with St. John’s Church.  Epitaphs, Apparitions and The Wintry Guest was seen at Prop Thr with Michael Smith and others.  Winter 2015 brought the project Winter-Rising: Snowbound Artist Diaries.  Read more.

Jamie hosts soirees and curates the Roots Salon, a century old family tradition of presenting art, music and conversation in an intimate setting.  For several years, Jamie hosted Roots Fest, an annual music festival featuring local favorites and a roster of family talent. In spring 2014 Jamie began a year long artists residency in collaboration with St. John’s Episcopal Church.  In August 2014,  Jamie was an artist in residence for the HotHouse at Lakeside Studios program, co-producing Rekindling the Salon, an artist retreat and public concert, with Anne Hills and others.  Post selling the family home in 2016, Jamie hosts Roots Salons at her Rogers Park apartment and as part of the Roots on the Road Concerts at Wishbone North restaurant in Chicago.

Jamie’s work as a Media Producer brings a worldwide audience to a talented roster of artists and writers.  She is known for her moving essays and creative writing pieces in her Blog.  She manages several social media pages.  For several years Jamie was Creative Director/Communications Director of Women’s Media Group, and produced The Feminist Lens, a radio series featuring women in the arts, which aired on WFMT Fine Arts Radio.  She was also co-writer and Musical Director of the series.

Jamie’s body of work tells her story.

For over 20 years, J. O’Reilly Productions and Jamie O’Reilly brought a  roster
of fine writers, performers and programs to print, music venues, theaters, radio and recordings.  Through her Roots Salon program, she showcases artists who possess originality and a strong work ethic.  Jamie also provides project development, advising and referral services.

For twenty-five plus years, the Arts have received the lion’s share of Jamie’s attention. Jamie is a registered Arts Consultant with the Illinois Arts Council.  She has developed strong and lasting relationships with prestigious Arts institutions.  In the mid ’90s, she was Vice President of The Friends of the Chicago Cultural Center, serving in the role for five years.  She has been the recipient of major arts commissions, and grant awards.  Jamie was named a Notable Chicagoan, in 2010 by Chicago Tribune’s Rick Kogan.

At the start of her career, when she wasn’t performing concerts of Irish songs, Jamie toured the country in Between The Times, a musical about the right to work. This project of Chicago Call to Action was a recipient of the 1987 Social Justice Communications Award from the late Cardinal Bernadin. Touring the United States, and hearing the stories of working people, had lasting impact on Jamie’s life.  She has been an activist for social justice for 30 years.

It was while doing a 1986 radio interview about Between The Times, that Jamie first encountered historian and author Studs Terkel. In the late ’90s, the folk-cabaret Pasiones: Songs of the Spanish Civil War, which she created with Michael Smith and Peter Glazer, elicited strong emotion from Chicago’s progressive community.  It also reacquainted her with Studs. Pasiones was a favorite recording of his. They shared the stage on numerous occasions, with the activists and scholars of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, and the Veterans of Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

In time, Jamie would sing many memorials for the “Lincolns.” But it was Annie Laurie, the Scottish ballad, which she sang at the memorial for Studs when he passed away, and at his recent Centenary at the Newberry Library.  Studs told Jamie that Haymarket martyr Albert Parsons sang Annie Laurie in his prison cell the night before he died. Studs loved to hear her sing that song!

In the mid ’90s, Jamie developed classes in career development and “Making a Life in the Arts” workshops for the Columbia College Arts Management Department, and was a teaching artist at the Portfolio Center.  Later she taught workshops in business skills for the artist, and singing classes for adults with special needs, at artScape, housed at Gallery 37 in Chicago.  The Artscape program was a collaboration between Harold Washington and Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. In 2006, she began providing one-on-one artist development services at her own office, under the auspices of J. O’Reilly Productions.


Feb 10, 2019 Jamie’s After Hours interview with WGN’s Rick Kogan.

A twelve-minute excerpt from the Maxim’ s interview Jamie did with Rick.

A little somethin’


From the Archive: “Chi-Lives” Chicago Reader, 2001

Jamie O’Reilly’s childhood sounds like the premise for a Technicolor-drenched 1950s Hollywood musical: a powerful Irish-American, Shakespearean actor father revered in the local theatrical community, a radiant, silver-voiced diva of a mother, and a brood of 14 singing children, each more talented than the next. Put them in a small town in northern Illinois, where they cheerfully perform concerts for needy families and are surprised when the neediest turns out to be their own.

As a movie concept, it’s a winner; in real life, it could be a hard-to-follow first act.

The town was north-suburban Crystal Lake, where O’Reilly’s parents, raised their family in the theatrical and Catholic-activist traditions O’Reilly’s forebears brought with them when they came to Chicago to work on the Sanitary and Ship Canal. Jamie, their ninth child, was gifted with her mother’s lilting soprano and an impressive range. She studied opera at DePaul University, but by graduation (in 1981) had decided she was more interested in folk music. “After college, the best-paying jobs in folk were in Irish music,” she says. “So that’s what I started out doing.”


Most of the publicity photos on this site are taken by Iwona Biedermann of dreamboxfoto, unless indicated.

(© A Cradle in Bethlehem is on WinterSong. More here.)