Atlanta based internationally acclaimed Jazz vocalist and recording artist Sweet Lu Olutosin has headlined stages from the Kennedy Center to the Teatro Rendano bringing audiences to their feet in excitement.
His latest project is called “Meet me at the Crossroads” debuted at number 4 on the Billboard Jazz Albums Charts, just behind Gregory Porter and Norah Jones. During its next 3 weeks, it climbed to number 1 on the Billboard Traditional Jazz Albums Charts.A Global Music Award winner, Sweet Lu Olutosin’s appearances have been characterized as an explosive blend of soul, blues, jazz and gospel. His live performance is the crown jewel in engaging modern Jazz music. Lu consistently tours and collaborates globally.
Significant recent performances include:
J.A.S. Snowmass Little Nell, Aspen, CO., Minton’s Playhouse - Harlem, NYC., J.F. Kennedy Center Washington DC., Otto Jazz Festival - Naples, Italy, Cala Gonone Jazz Festival - Sardegna, Italy, Rancho La Puerta - Tecante, Mexico, Washington DC Jazz Festival - DC, Wolf Creek Jazz Festival - Atlanta, GA., Atlanta Jazz Festival - Atlanta, GA., The Pierre Hotel - Manhattan, NYC
Whether it’s headlining at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C or, playing the Teatro Rendano in Consenza, Italy , Lu’s performances are life changing. Sweet Lu believes it is his duty, his mission to share his God given talent with the world; to use the idioms of jazz, blues, and gospel to share the spiritual healing and love this music, his music, imbues. He feels ‘mission accomplished’ after many of his shows when members of the audience come to him and say things like “…your music warmed my heart” or “I can feel the emotions in your voice” or, the big one, …” your music made me cry”.
Like many African American artists, Lu grew up in the church and his first introduction to music was as a member of, you guessed it, the gospel choir. Lu’s family spent many happy hours in their local church and he reveled in the robust joy of gospel music and the magical effect it had on him and everyone around him. At home, the family was only allowed to listen to gospel music. Outside the home the only secular music he was exposed to was the blues.
Gospel and Blues were the breadth of his musical experience until, by chance, he heard a recording of Al Jarreau singing “You Don’t See Me.’ After further listenings, Lu felt that Jarreau’s voice was totally free to communicate his message in whatever musical vernacular available to him. Sweet Lu’s passion was ignited. He knew from the moment he heard the opening rhythmic patterns of “You Don’t See Me” that this was the type of singer he wanted to be and the type of music he wanted to sing. HIs goal was to become an uninhibited singer using a mix of jazz, blues, and gospel to create music with the message of soulful, spiritual healing.
Lu immediately started listening to everything he could get his hands on. Al Jarreau, of course, Joe Williams, Lou Rawls, Eddie Jefferson, and John Lee Hooker were some of the male vocalists who influenced him. Like most creative artists, he began by imitating their styles and vocal nuances until he could take what he’d learned and create his own unique vocal style.
Websites or Social Media Pages:
What Musical Genre Do You Feel Best Describes Your Music And How Would You Describe Your Sound?
In my opinion, categories for music are much less accurate today than in years past, because marketers will put any label on any style of music if it will sell. However, Most people would call my music Jazz, but a more accurate description would be "a blend of Blues, Gospel, and Jazz with a "heavy emphasis on the Jazz". As a vocalist I'm always trying to find new ways to shape my sound into what I feel like the song calls for. Obviously, that means I have to approach each tune with fresh eyes and ears not to mention the musicians I'm playing with.
How Did You Get Your Name? Is There A Story?
Hmm... Well I was at a jam session in a Jazz club that I used to hang around in and I got up to do a tune with the band. This was the 1st time I had ever sang at the club before, even though I was there almost weekly. When I started singing the club owner came up to the stage, stood there and just stared at me. When I finished the song the owner shouted "Sweet Lu" the walked back to the bar repeating "Sweet Lu" over and over. The cats I'd been hangin with weekly at the club picked up the owner's que and I couldn't shake it loose, so I started using it and never looked back.
What Are or Have Been Your Musical Influences?
Joe Williams, All Jareau, John Lee Hooker, Herbie Hancock, Jon Hendricks, Lou Rawls, Mahalia Jackson, Jessie Dixon, Bobby Blue Bland, B.B. King
What Are You Working On Now? Any Future Collaborations We Can Look Forward To?
Right now I'm working on new material and some new arrangements of that will probably be released next year. I'm also working on some collaborative ideas with a group called Trey Coastal out in Oakland. So those are two of the projects that I'm putting some energy behind. I feel good about where I am creatively right now but I have to keep driving forward and keep growing
What’s Your Typical Songwriting Process?
It varies. Sometimes it starts with a melody in my head other times it might be a bass line. Then at other times a lyric or story line will stick in my head. Finally there are times when I deliberately sit down to write a song. In each case I'm recording my ideas so I can recall them at a later date when I'll put it all together.
How Has Social Media Influenced Your Career As An Artist?
Social Media has brought a lot to the game. I've been able to communicate with people, musicians, friends and strangers from all over the world. It exposes me to new audiences and exposes new audiences to my music.
What Are Some Tracks and Artists Currently On Your Playlist?
Kamasi Washington, Jeremy Pelt, Larry Wilson, Tia Fuller, Jazzmina Horn, Charles Mingus, Joey Alexander
What Did You Do Before You Started Making Music?
There's never been a time that singing wasn't part of my everyday routine. However, everybody's got to eat so while I sang for the love of it I paid the bills with the steady salary I received as a Soldier in the US Army.
Any Advice For Young People (Men or Women) That Want To Succeed In The Music World?
Be determined, be disciplined to your process and stay open to the creator.
What Would You Change In The Music Industry If You Were A Top Music Executive?
Find a way to sponsor new talent in touring & business processes unique to the industry.
How Do You Feel About Originality?
Originality is an interesting thing... the great tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins said "Nothing is original, everything is a derivative" I think the best a person can do is be as original as you can be in the context of always knowing that you are the result of those who came before you.