Despite the fact she has been a recording artist since the age of thirteen and spent four years touring, recording and receiving accolades as part of the group Avalon Cherie Adams (Paliotta) has taken her greatest satisfaction from being known as Mrs. Cherie Adams, wife to Kevin.
To understand “Hazel Eyes” and to understand Cherie Adams you don’t need to go any further than how she views her marriage, “Now that I’m married I just feel like everything else is secondary. Don’t get me wrong, I love my career and I want it more than anything. I love to sing, minister and travel but I love being his wife more. I finally feel like I have reached a height in my walk with God. I still have my days when I say I want the Grammy. I never won the Grammy and stupid things like that. It’s silly. Being his wife is probably my best accomplishment. It really is,” says the petite Italian dynamo who grew up on Rhode Island.
It was her love for husband Kevin that gave birth to the song “Hazel Eyes” from Adams’ new CD release The Sweet Life (La Dolce Vita). The lyrics echo her sentiments;
“You walk into the room And my soul begins to dance I’ve never felt this kind of romance I tried to walk away but your smile asked me to stay And the only thing that’s left on my mind Are those…hazel eyes”
The album’s release brings to fruition more than three years of planning, studio time and a work of love between Adams, Kevin and producer friend Tony Morra. When she left Avalon in September of 2002 Adams says her heart was pressed with the need to play a more significant role in ministering to those hurting in the aftermath of 9/11. She had been deeply troubled by the death of close friend Grant Cunningham who tragically died in his mid thirties as the result of an accident. Cunningham a former Executive A&R person with Sparrow Records left behind wife Kristen and three children. He was still in his mid thirties at the time of his death. That tragic event was closely followed by the death of a close friend’s husband. Although she signed a solo recording deal within a few months of leaving Avalon Adams career came to a grinding halt. Even though this gifted songwriter and talented singer had all her songs ready to record it took a year and one half before the label put her into the studio. Three songs into the album the record company went bankrupt.
It was a difficult time in the industry with labels cutting staff and being battered by the effects of digital downloading. It was not a good time for an Indie artist to try and strike a record deal. It was at that point that Kevin stepped in and suggested they form their own record label.
“We took another step of faith and decided to finish the record ourselves. We produced it ourselves. It was just a real step of faith and my husband believed in me and my abilities, my talents, my heart for God and my heart for people. I just want to reach people on such a deep level. I want to sing songs about Jesus, about life and about love. I want to reach the core of people’s hearts. He knew that and he wanted to facilitate that. That’s how The Sweet Life came about. Every song has a story behind it. It’s really amazing,” she says.
Teaming up with new producer Tony Morra the smaller budget project was still able to attract some of the finest session musicians in Nashville. The finished project The Sweet Life (La Dolce Vita) has become a timeless masterpiece that will be cherished for many years and whose songs may be covered by future generations.
The disc is a blend of jazz and R&B tunes that combine thoughtful lyrics about her faith, how she has dealt with trials in her life and her love for family and friends. At times the CD boasts more up tempo music in the style of the old standards. The later is not by accident as Adams in her teenage years cut her teeth singing tunes like “Route 66” and “When I Fall In Love” while fronting bands for wedding receptions. She also spent two years as the lead vocalist for the jazz band at Rhode Island College.”That’s where I really learned to hone in on that texture thing through the old greats like Tony Bennett Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin,” she says.
While many have left good impressions when applying jazz and R&B music to faith based lyrics none have done it as well as Adams. “Something About the Rain”, co-written with Scott Kirpayne and Tony Wood is a wonderfully arranged piece that I predict will eventually find its way to mainstream charts. Like the other songs from this album you keep peeling back the layers to find beautifully textured vocals enveloped in scrumptious instrumentals.
Producer Morra speaks about those textures, “As we sat and picked the players and instrumentation for the tracks, we were both in agreement that we wanted a very organic approach to the record. Not a lot of programming and sequencing. We wanted to capture the performances and passion of the players. It was a labor of love for each player! Taking the tracks to places I didn’t expect. it was such a team effort!”
It was Adams’ desire to demonstrate her own individuality and color outside of the lines of her former career with Avalon that led to many of the flavors of The Sweet Life including the title track. “I purposely did a lot more with a live band because (a lot of) Avalon’s music is programmed. They have some live instrumentation but they have a lot of programming. I really wanted to make my album sound different. I didn’t want to make a Cherie Adams record that sounded like Avalon music with just Cherie singing. I used a lot of mandolins. I love mandolins, being Italian. I used a lot of really unique instruments like the lute and the bazooki.”
Their common Italian heritage lent itself to creating the ambience of a vineyard in Italy on the song “The Sweet Life”. Morra says, “As for the European ambience, I can only attribute that to our heritage. Cherie and I are very Italian! Having grown up hearing the expression ‘La Dolce Vita’ spoken in my household and also hearing stories of the Old Country gave me the inspiration for the vision of this song. My great uncles would sit on their porch in the summer and play mandolin, piano and clarinet.” “The Sweet Life” was penned with Robert White Johnson (“Where Does My Heart Beat Now”-Celine Dione). Adams says she started with this little Italian hook but admits that prior to hooking up with Johnson she was thinking, “Why am I writing this song? Nobody else is going to like it. Unless you are Italian you are not going to get it.”
Dave Tucker the Senior Producer at LeSea Broadcasting spoke about Cherie’s recent appearance on the station’s Live At Studio B. Tucker captures the essence of what makes Cherie Adams such an outstanding artist and why this record is so special. He says, “I did not know what to expect from this former Avalon member…however, her sweet spirit and heartfelt vocals easily captured the attention of the audience. Cherie Adams closing ballad, “The Sweet Life” mixed with a verse or two of Italian transcended the feel of the song and drove the songs meaning into a depth that would cause anyone to want to live life to its fullest extent.”
With smoky lounge tunes such as “Funny” a song inspired by Grant Cunningham’s widow Kristin this song collection should find its way under many a Christmas tree this season. The song speaks about the faith that Kristin and all of us have to be reunited with loved ones who have passed on.
“You Move Heaven” is best described as a love song to her Lord and Savior. The track highlights Adams’ soulful passionate vocals. Her passion for singing is born out of her genuine love for people and her desire to minister to those who are hurting. Glenda McNalley of The Select Artist Group has known her for seven years and observes, “Cherie is a woman who loves Jesus and follows His direction at all costs. Her ability to relate to people is heartwarming to behold.”
When contacted fellow recording artist and songwriter Staci Frenes commented, “Cherie’s greatest asset is her desire to be a blessing to others with her music.”When Cherie Adams looks back over her life, the years of depression before her days with Avalon and the heartbreak and loss that came with a failed ten year relationship she doesn’t dwell on those dark days but instead is thankful for how her life has turned out. She leaves no doubt in your mind that her husband (of four years) who she once described as the most beautiful man I had ever seen, is indeed the most important part of her life in concert with her faith in God.
“He (Kevin) tells me he believes in me all the time. He encourages me all the time. He tells me to rest. He says I don’t want you to worry about anything but the creative part of things. I don’t want you to be worrying about other things. I just want you to let me take care of you. I just want you to rest and know God is taking care of us and just rest in that.”
Copyright © 2005 Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved. This material may not be redistributed without prior written permission from Joe Montague. Joe Montague is an internationally published freelance journalist / photographer. www.cherieadams.com