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Cherie Adams Pt 2

"He 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." There was a time in the life of Cherie Adams that she thought she would never hear words like that let alone be married to the man who was speaking them to her, husband Kevin. 
Meeting Kevin Adams at a friend's wedding marked a new stage in Cherie's life. "When I got back from El Salvador I put this little cross around my neck and I said, ‘Lord, today I am just going to marry myself to you. From this day forward I am just going to make you my every thing. Morning, noon and night you are the most important thing to me and I don't care if it isn't meant for me to ever love again because I have you. I really sincerely meant it," she said.
Adams's feisty side emerges again as she related, "When I got back to the States a friend of mine had asked me to be a bridesmaid. I was always the bridesmaid and never the bride! I had a gig in Tampa and then flew up to Rhode Island to be a bridesmaid in my friend's wedding. I'm like, 'God, why am I always the bridesmaid. I don't feel like buying another ugly dress and shoes that don't match anything else! There goes another two hundred bucks on a dress I will never wear again.'” She said with a mixture of angst and laughter, “I'm thinking, 'God, why in the world do I have to be a bridesmaid?'”
“God spoke to me and said, ‘Mary has been a good friend to you and you need to be a good friend to her.’ I hated going to weddings because they broke my heart. I must have been to five weddings and every time I went to them it was just a reminder that my wedding of my ten year relationship did not work out. It was a constant reminder that I would never love again," she finished.
She continued, "I did my gig in Tampa and then I flew into Providence the next day. I show up to this wedding and I am a mess. I'm running late for the wedding. The plane was late and my hair is all a mess and I am sick from El Salvador food."
The groom's father introduced her to the man she would be walking down the aisle with as part of the wedding party. Cherie Adams told me, "Sure enough it is Kevin," then she gushed, "This is the most beautiful man that I have seen in my life. He looks like a sunset. This guy is pretty. He's just beautiful. I am thinking Oh my gosh but I am saying, 'No, I devoted myself to you Lord last night. I am not even going to look at this guy. To make a long story short exactly one year later I got married in the same mansion in Newport to Kevin." On July 29, 2001, Cherie Paliotta became Mrs Cherie Adams. 
God had more in store for Cherie than just her love life, however, and not all of it was good news. First there was the aftermath of 9/11. She said, "I started thinking, 'Life is too short.' There are other things that I really want to do in addition to Avalon. I really loved being in Avalon and being a part of that group but there was just so much more inside my heart that I wanted to share with people. I wanted to reach people at a deeper level."
It was then that God started planting a seed inside her for the next phase of her life. Avalon began to tour again just three weeks following 9/11 and she said the look of devastation and pain on people's faces added to her desire to do more with her ministry. She remembered thinking, "I'm here to make you feel good and I hope I'm making you feel good but then when I left the venue I was thinking God I want to do more. Those are the kinds of things that were pressing on my heart during that time period."
On July 7, 2002, Grant Cunningham, a close friend and the executive A&R person for Sparrow Records, tragically died as the result of a soccer accident. Cunningham had been instrumental in the formation of Avalon and wrote many of the group's songs. He was in his mid-thirties and the father of three. Not long after that, the husband of another close friend was also killed in an accident. Soberly she reflected on these life-altering events, "It was like all these tragedies that were taking place kept pounding into my brain there is more to life than just entertaining people. It just started to instill in me a deep desire to want to do more for God and more for people's hearts. People were still aching and hurting." The song "Funny" was born from Cunningham's death. The song is dedicated to his wife Kristen who Cherie describes as always having a smile for those who were mourning her husband's death. "Funny" is a song that talks about knowing that there is still a peace that God can give and the hope of being reunited with those that passed on too soon.
On September 13, 2002, just four years after replacing Nikki Hassman in Avalon, Cherie Adams announced that she was leaving Avalon to pursue a solo career. She had prayed about the decision for more than a year and she felt at peace with her decision.
A few months after leaving Avalon, Cherie signed a record deal. Her future looked bright, however, that joy soon turned to concern as it took one year before the label got her into the studio to record her songs. Three songs into her album, the record label went bankrupt.
Brutally honest she said, "It tested my faith and I got aggravated. I (remember thinking) 'God, you are the one that called me out here on this water with you for this water walk.” The annoyance in her voice is clear. Then she added as if confessing, "I am so human to a fault. He (God) has spoiled me so much but when he doesn't come through for me I'm like what are you doing? You ought to come through for me. I was asking God, 'What in the world are you doing? You ought to come through for me! What in the world is going on?’"
It was at that point that Kevin stepped in and suggested they form their own record label. 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. 
"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 said.
They teamed up with new producer Tony Morra and despite working with a small budget were able to attract some of the finest session players in Nashville. The finished project became the beautifully textured The Sweet Life (La Dolce Vita). 
I asked Morra about those textures and he told me, "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!"
Cherie Adams spoke about the similarities and differences between her solo effort and the music of Avalon. "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."
"I love voices that have texture. The singers today are so into licks and tricks while they are trying to show off what their vocal abilities can do. It ruins just holding that long note with a beautiful texture and simple timbre with vibrato. They lose some of that because they are so consumed with trying to show off their vocal ability. Don't get me wrong, I love to do licks and tricks. Hey, what singer doesn't if you are capable of doing it? I just love to mix a little bit of the tricks with a little bit of texture," she said.
The deep jazz and R&B roots are evident on her album and nowhere is it more evident than on “Something About the Rain,” co-written with Scott Kirpayne and Tony Wood. Like most of the songs on this wonderfully arranged disc, “Something About the Rain” could be featured on any mainstream jazz / R&B radio station. Don't even think of qualifying this album with the words Christian music because The Sweet Life is a masterpiece that stands on its own merits.
“Funny” has that smoky lounge appeal and provides a fresh look at addressing the difficult times of loss in a gentle instrumentally enjoyable fashion. Morra said, "We wanted the feel of “Funny” to be incredibly sensitive, but a song of strength and hope. We wanted the track to be as pure and inspired as possible. It was the last song of the first day of tracking. Everyone was a little tired and we ran the tune down with a click track and loop I had come up with in pre-production. It didn't seem to capture what we wanted so we dropped the loop and click track, turned down the lights, (and with the) the sweet fragrance of incense set up a quick scratch vocal track. Cherie talked about the origin of the song. (Each of us had known)Grant Cunningham and were teary eyed. I counted the tune off and from beat and vocal one it was the take."
When Cherie Adams sings the words to "Funny," the conviction in her voice is not mere words to a song; 

'Cuz I really know
I know that I'll see you again-oh yeah
And I have a hope
That tells me this isn't the end
This is just the beginning 
Cherie accredited some of her jazz influences to her teenage years when she was often requested to sing at wedding receptions with a live band. "That is probably why you hear a lot of jazz influence in my voice because I learned standards. While most kids were listening to disco and rock I was having to learn all these old standards to be in the band." She went on to list songs such as "When I Fall In Love" and "Route 66."
Her jazz influences also come from her time spent studying music at Rhode Island College. As a music education major, she spent two years in the role of lead vocalist for the jazz band. "That's where I really learned to hone in on that texture thing through the old greats like Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatram and Dean Martin," she said.
Dave Tucker, the Senior Producer at LeSea Broadcasting, spoke about Cherie Adams's recent appearance 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 said, "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’s 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."
"The Sweet Life" (the song) was penned with Robert White Johnson ("Where Does My Heart Beat Now"-Celine Dione). She says she started with this little Italian hook but said to thought, "Why am I writing this song? Nobody else is going to like it. Unless you are Italian you are not going to get it." Accompanied by the sounds of mandolins "The Sweet Life" places listeners somewhere in Italy, perhaps a vineyard dreaming of that life that God has promised and that we all hope for.
Two love songs adorn this album. The first is a love song from singer to God, "You Move Heaven," graced with Cherie's soulful vocals. The second is a song every woman should rush out and buy to give her husband on their anniversary or for Valentine's Day, "Hazel Eyes." It is a song she wrote for her husband. If your hubby has blue eyes, just change the word when you croon to him.
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."
Fellow recording artist and songwriter Staci Frenes offered up an insight into Cherie that I agree with wholeheartedly, "One is taken at first with Cherie's vocal prowess--which holds its own among any of today's pop divas; but looking closer, it becomes evident that Cherie's greatest asset is her desire to be a blessing to others with her music."
Cherie Adams life hasn't always been a fairy tale but it is now and it is well deserved.
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved

Joe Montague is an internationally published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18. All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague. 


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