Oleta Adams. Picture: Instagram

Gospel and jazz sensation Oleta Adams will be gracing South Africans with her musical prowess in a musical concert series titled: The road to the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz, which is taking place on Friday at the Sandton Convention Centre.

Joining Adams on stage will be South African Wanda Baloyi, for the unique concert.

Catching up with Tonight, Adams spoke about her passion for music, growth and her new album, The Third Set.

The first time Adams visited South Africa was 15 or so years ago and she explained that part of what kept her coming back was her love for the people and the warmth that they have always shown her.

“We’ve always had such a great time in South Africa. I’ve been there about four or five times.

“I love the people, the country. It’s just such a heartwarming experience every single time. I love going where people can appreciate what the spirit of music does for the welfare of each person - the way it goes from heart-to-heart and I believe the best music was started right there. And we get excited about that,”Adams said.

“My husband is my drummer, and I remember standing once with him in the wings listening to a South African group playing music and we couldn’t stand still.

“We were amazed. The way these musicians felt their music deep from the heart just got us excited,”she added

The main thing she remembers from her first performance in the country was getting off the plane, and being welcomed “home”.

“A gentleman, shortly after we landed, walked up to me and said ‘Welcome home, sista’. I never forgot that. And everyone was so giving. It was just beautiful.

“What’s interesting for people born in America is we tend, for me anyway, we tend to go to Africa and you get this feeling like you’re looking for yourself, by looking in the faces of others, because we know that’s where our ancestry began. That feeling where you’re trying to find your roots. It’s a wonderful feeling to know perhaps you belong some-where.”she said.

This time around, Adams was looking forward to having meaningful interactions with lovers of music.

“I have been to many different countries across the world and what I have realised is that it’s not so much about the buildings and spaces, but it’s about the interactions with people. The people you connect with. That’s where the stories are. That’s what I’m looking forward to, she added.

With a career spanning four decades of song in Jazz, Soul and Gospel, The Third Set is her first album in eight years. She said the album found her exploring with new sounds, for her fans and the musicians she works with.

“We experimented with new things. We enjoyed it and the audiences did too. We were trying to record a live performance but something always got in the way. That’s when we agreed to go record the album. We took some songs that we’d enjoyed playing and it was great for us,”she said.

“It’s called The Third Set because, back in the day, I was performing in clubs six nights a week, three shows a night, 50 weeks of the year. The first few sets we did for the public and the third set is what we did for ourselves. Anything that we felt like playing. The feeling was that if people were still there during the third set, then they really wanted to be there. That’s why I called it third set. We had a blast in the studio.”

The album was recorded in two-and-a- half days, and Adams said this album was different to all the others, with most of it live.

“I also felt I had to put something out because I have a bad habit of going years and years without recording. So, I thought, if I’m doing this, I’d better do it right,”she said.

Adams released this album independently and the “response to it has been wonderful. 2018 is my 47th year in the business. If I’m still performing and people are still showing up I’m delighted,”she said.

About her upcoming performance, Adams said her fans could expect a mixture of sounds. “We’ll add songs that are favourites and some things that are new. Who knows? Maybe even a little bit of gospel. I come with a potpourri of music because I know that people love different styles. So I love to try to reach as many people as possible. I also have an amazing band,who are incredible musicians!” she said.

* Tickets from R400 at Computicket.

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