Opie Bellas: a jazz singer from the old school
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"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 year.

She returned yet again, performing under the auspices of The 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 of Mr. 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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