Jamie O’Reilly Photographs
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Michael P. Smith and Jamie O’Reilly Photographs
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Jamie O’Reilly is known in the music and theater community for her distinctive soprano voice, and for the powerful live productions and recordings she creates. In her over forty years contributing to Chicago’s vibrant arts scene, she has made an indelible mark as performer, activist and producer. The creative projects she spearheads have lasting impact and cultural significance.
As one of Chicago’s most beloved song stylists and ballad singers, Jamie performs a accompanied by piano or guitar. Jamie approaches folk music with the passion of a theater artist and the attention of an art song interpreter. Her selection of material is at once surprising and intriguing, reflecting a range of life experience in the lyrics, and sophistication in its musical depth. Original songs written for her by celebrated songwriter Michael P. Smith are a highlight of her concerts. Jamie’s love of language is ever-present. Songs in Spanish, French, Yiddish, Portuguese and even Swedish, may be featured in her concerts.
Jamie’s current work with pianist John Erickson features lush songbird ballads, reminiscent of by-gone eras. There are romantic standards from the 1920s – 40s, sultry gypsy ballads, Celtic folksongs and parlor songs, and Americana ballads. With their newest program Jamie O’Reilly, Sings of Cities, she highlights her experiences as artist and activist. The rich history of Chicago and neighboring communities is explored, and songs in tribute to the world’s most beloved cities, (Paris, New York, Dublin and Lisbon among them), are featured.
Jamie began performing as early as age seven, (often with her mother Winifred as coach and director), and was soon playing leads in musicals and singing solos at church in Crystal Lake, Illinois. She received a degree in Vocal Performance from DePaul University School of Music (1981). The art songs of Ireland became a specialty and led to her vocal debut at Orchestra Hall Chicago in the John McCormick Centenary Concert (1984.) Jamie was soon in demand as a featured soloist at cultural centers, concert halls, and at special events throughout the city and neighboring Midwestern states. She was accompanied in concert by guitarist Peter Swenson, pianist Jeffrey Panko and others. As lead vocalist with the band Jamie O’Reilly and the Rogues (1982-1992), she appeared regularly in variety shows on radio, in festivals, and at folk music venues. A twenty-five plus year collaboration with the legendary songwriter Michael P. Smith, brought further recognition in the local and international theater and music community. Michael has contributed dozens of signature songs, theatre pieces, and recordings to Jamie’s diverse musical catalog.