Alicia Olatuja has been praised by the New York Times as “a singer with a strong and luscious tone and an amiably regal presence on stage.” She first came into the national spotlight in 2013 while performing as the featured soloist with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir at President Barack Obama’s Second Inauguration. Shortly thereafter, she assembled her own jazz-based ensemble and recorded her first solo album, Timeless (2014).
Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Olatuja grew up immersed in a wide range of musical styles, including gospel, soul, jazz and classical. She graduated with a master’s degree in Classical Voice/Opera from the Manhattan School of Music. After appearing in numerous operatic and musical theater productions, she started to perform more regularly in gospel and jazz concerts and worked with such esteemed artists as Chaka Khan, BeBe Winans and Christian McBride.
In 2014, Olatuja came to the attention of the acclaimed composer/arranger/pianist Billy Childs, and was brought on to be part of the touring incarnation of “Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro” alongside vocalist Becca Stevens. The project made an extensive nationwide tour during the 2015-16 season.
Olatuja’s voice also entranced the legendary Hammond B3 organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, and she has recently performed with him at multiple events including the Charlie Parker Festival and the BRIC JazzFest. Over the past year, her own band has been steadily in demand, and they have performed at the Jazz Standard, Vermont Jazz Center, Sioux Falls JazzFest, Rockport Jazz Festival, Markham Jazz Festival, Monty Alexander Jazz Fest, and the Harlem Stage Gatehouse, to name a few.
Olatuja makes her Festival debut in Osvaldo Golijov’s Oceana on Saturday, August 12, during the Memory & Meaning concert.