Jamie O’Reilly Photographs
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Michael P. Smith and Jamie O’Reilly Photographs
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For Michael photos please go to his website michaelpetersmith.com
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.
Coming out of the pandemic, in 2021, Jamie produced the Roots in the Garden Series during the pandemic. In 2022, she produced Tough Broads & Tender Lasses: Songs of Resilience. She hosted a Storytime for Children at the Sweden Shop. Last fall brought an indoor Salon Series to local treasure Tre Kronor Restaurant. 2023 is already proving to be a busy year for Jamie.
In her program In Old Chicago, singer/writer Jamie O’Reilly – part memoir, part concert – captures an explosive time in Chicago history, as a great city comes of age. Through stories and songs, she shares the roots of a vocal tradition and rich history of her Irish American family who have been in Chicago for over 120 years, and how that tradition led to the singer/activist she is today. This year she is developing From Parlor to Print: Voices of Old Chicago as a Legacy program, bringing a multimedia show to cultural venues.
As A Voice for the Soul of the City, Jamie’s work includes essays, stories, poetry and memoir, and pieces further exploring the range of the artist’s voice in community. Jamie is known for her moving essays and creative writing on her Blog. Her frank and personal reflections focus on what inspires and challenges her as an artist and activist. And how we make our way in the rapidly shifting cultural landscape
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 late legendary songwriter Michael P. Smith, brought further recognition in the local and international theater and music community. Michael contributed dozens of signature songs, theatre pieces, and recordings to Jamie’s diverse musical catalog.