Jeannette native pays Adele tribute with Palace Theatre show
Growing up in Jeannette, Amy Jo Slater was active in singing and dancing, performing with area community and professional troupes, including Stage Right and Idlewild Park & SoakZone.
She returned to Stage Right two years ago to portray the Fairy Godmother in a new version of “Cinderella,” created by the school’s artistic director, Tony Marino.
But for most of her career since graduating from Saint Vincent College in 1997 with a degree in vocal performance, Slater, 44, has taken her show on the road. Or, to be more geographically correct, on the high seas.
For almost 20 years, Slater has performed for cruise lines as a production (featured) singer.
A resemblance to, and ability to belt out a song like, singer Adele will bring her back to terra firma, with a Sept. 13 performance at The Palace Theatre in Greensburg.
Slater will perform “A Night With Adele” as part of the Westmoreland Cultural Trust’s Greensburg Music Fest. It’s a show she perfected on board, after a cruise director suggested a surprise set of two Adele songs.
“It went over very well,” she says.
“When I do the show for the cruise line, it has to be under one hour. The show for the Palace is almost double that. It’s a lot of material,” she says.
Fans can expect to hear “Someone Like You,” “Rolling in the Deep,” “Hello” and other favorites from the British pop star.
“I get a lot of requests for ‘One and Only’ and ‘Chasing Pavements.’ Hands down, my favorite song to sing of hers is ‘When We Were Young,’” she adds.
Slater says she’s puzzled when people point out a resemblance to Adele. “I don’t get it. But I’m often stopped and told I remind people of her,” she says.
“One of the important things I like to point out about my personal show is I’m not an impersonator. I don’t impersonate Adele. It’s a tribute performance,” Slater says.
“I like to give (the audience) the essence of Adele. I talk about her, the whole show is her, but I don’t pretend to be her,” she says.
Noting some of Adele’s songs can be “dramatic and depressing,” Slater says the audience should not expect to cry through her show. The power ballads will be there, but delivered with joy.
Singing on the seas
Slater, who in March celebrated her first anniversary with husband Florin Buganu, maintains a home base in Jeannette although she travels much of the time. She’s excited her friends and family will be able to see her perform.
“Because I work abroad, it’s difficult for my family to see me,” Slater says.
For her Palace debut, longtime friend Kelli Brisbane — who is Westmoreland Cultural Trust director of corporate engagement and events — put her in touch with local musicians.
“I’ve known Kelli Brisbane since we were about 7 years old. We performed together at Idlewild Park,” she says.
Providing backup will be Michael Matteo of Harrison City on drums/percussion; Eric Barchiesi of Penn Township on piano; Dave Minda of Saltsburg on guitar; Dan Lauritzen of Irwin on bass; and Courtney Lynn Czarniak of Fox Chapel and Parry Adams of Irwin on backing vocals.
“They are all phenomenal musicians,” Slater says.
Slater’s performance is one of dozens that will be featured during the Greensburg Music Fest on stages throughout town, with venues including parking lots, Courthouse Square, St. Clair Park, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art and others.
“I think the whole point of Music Fest is to support local talent. We are fortunate she will be home then,” Brisbane says .
East Coast Turnaround, also from Jeannette, will open the evening at 6:30 p.m. with Southern rock, blues and soul.
Slater also enjoys teaching, and sees more of that in her future.
“I want to help pay it forward to young performers. I had wonderful teachers and mentors in my life,” Slater says.
She cites several, including her school chorus and voice instructor, Crystal Stryker; Jeannette Dance Factory studio owner and director Mary Anne Thomas; and Curt Scheib, a former Seton Hill University music professor who taught her while she was in college.
”That’s what I intend to do when I settle,” Slater says.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .