Breakout Tabernacle Choir singer launches debut solo album

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It is about time Alicia Olatuja took another solo.

The Brooklyn singer first caught the nation’s attention when she performed a solo with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir at the 2013 Presidential inauguration. Now Olatuja is releasing her debut solo album, “Timeless,” which she will perform at Bric in Fort Greene on Oct. 16 — two days after the album drops.

Olatuja defies convention in both her life and music. For one thing, the Missouri-born musician didn’t make the typical jump from Middle America to the hip northern reaches of Kings County — in fact, she resides about as far as you can get from Williamsburg, in Marine Park.

“Brooklyn has that cool, laid-back Zen anyway, but Marine Park is a more quite family-oriented place,” Olatuja said. “I think when you tour and do all these shows, you kind of need a place that is close enough to get to the city but also brings that peacefulness that was necessary to recharge.”

“Timeless” features six jazzy original tunes Olatuja wrote and co-arranged with pianist Jeremiah Abiah, but she also tackles “Over the Rainbow” and “Amazing Grace” — which both entered the jazz canon as pop standards — as well as some more contemporary tunes by Chaka Kahn and Stevie Wonder. The choices mirrors Olatuja’s own style, itself an eclectic mix.

“When you absorb all those different sounds and musical elements and then squeeze them out onto an album to tell your story, you’re going to get songs that have all those different flavors,” she said.

And although Olatuja’s music has roots in gospel, R&B, and jazz, she is classically trained. Growing up in a gospel choir, she saw fellow singers succumb to career-ending vocal stress, so she vowed not to fall prey and started formal training.

“I needed to have an instrument that could keep up with my musical curiosity,” Olatuja said.

Alicia Olatuja at Bric House Ballroom (647 Fulton St. between Rockwell and Ashalnd places in Fort Greene, Oct. 16 at 7:30 pm. $15–$20.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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