Cafe Set's Musical Chou
Like a gossamer butterfly drifting on the breeze across oceans and continents, Ora Catherine Reed emerged from her golden chrysalis with a debut album of jazz standards on an independent Japanese label. The release entitled, This One's For You, was subsequently followed by A Little Something New and Simply Black and White.
Ora Reed is a "person of interest and an interesting person." She is well- traveled and much beloved by her family, friends and associates. With performances in Las Vegas, Dubai and Tokyo, Ora is just as likely to pop up in Rio de Janeiro and do a few tunes in Portuguese on one of those warm Brazilian purple nights, as she is to turn up in Paris. She often refers to herself as a citizen of the world.
Ora Reed was born in the Delta, and grew up in the red clay hills of Mississippi, reared by a mother who recognized Ora's potential very early. Piano lessons began at the age of three, just about the time Reed conquered her "ABC's." Every summer from the age of five, it was piano, clarinet and violin lessons at Jackson State University, which not surprisingly, is her alma mater. According to Reed, "I always knew deep down inside that I could sing like some of the people I would often accompany, a little voice was screaming to get out." Nothing like starting at the top, her first professional gig was at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada with the Bruce Westcott Band.
Reed moved to Baltimore and began singing in very chic supper clubs in Maryland. Ora was aptly dubbed a "cafe society singer" by then-columnist, Jimmy Colimore of the Baltimore Sun. A singer by night and an Entertainment Critic by day for an ABC-TV affiliate, her plate stayed full. And when she wasn't singing or critiquing, Ora was throwing fabulous, catered soirees for the creme de la creme of Baltimore's elite power brokers, restaurateurs, sports figures, and members of the "horsey set."
When Reed left Baltimore to return to Mississippi to nurse her ailing mother, it created a social vacuum. After her beloved mother, Annie passed away, Ora spent quality time with family and friends. Never very far from music, she has enjoyed positions as Administrative Assistant to a State Senator, Presidential Campaign Coordinator, Concert Promotions Manager, Administrative Assistant to the President of the National Baptist Convention, and PR Consultant to Mission Mississippi, a Christian organization that promotes racial and denominational reconciliation.
Having grown up in a family that attended, and actively participated in a Baptist Church, religion has always been at the core of her everyday life. In every country that she has visited, sharing her talent always tops her list. Because of her faith, adversities, triumphs, and loss have all been met with a feeling of serenity.
During a holiday in Brazil, fate stepped in; Reed realized the importance of music in her life. Remembering the comments of her favorite uncle (Rev. C. L. Clark) who once said "music is your God-given talent", she lovingly embraced her upcoming musical journey. Performances in Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and Carnegie Hall have all left appreciative audiences with profound respect for her musicality and heartfelt warmth from her vocal styling. "No matter what continent you are on, or country you are in, music is truly a universal language. I am so aware of this when I share in a church service where no English is spoken. Tears stream down the faces of people in the sanctuary, and you realize your musical message is felt, you've touched someone's heart," Ora says. Our jazz standards unite the hearts of jazz lovers worldwide.
Highlights of her southern experiences have included singing in churches, especially First Baptist Church of Jackson, where for many years, she served as a member of the Sanctuary Choir. Performances with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, an appearance at the Southern Governor's Association, participating in the first Mississippi Musicians Day, and the opening of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New Orleans are all cherished memories.
It appears that God has been in her corner. A four-time cancer survivor, which she attributes to her long-time faith in God, Ora now shares with other survivors and has included the only self-penned tune on her first CD, "We Are Survivors." Despite all of this, Reed is upbeat, thankful for her many experiences in music, as well as life in general. All of this attests to her life of musical harmony and spirit.
Reed released a CD of family favorite hymns, which is entitled "Simply Black and White". This music is very simple, as she accompanies herself on piano, and renders heartfelt lyrics from this well selected group of songs. An original tune entitled "Moment to Moment" reflects on life's experiences and hopeful tomorrows. Smooth sounds that are perfect for meditation.
A lover of jazz standards, Ora collaborated with two Japanese musicians, Pianist Katsuro Miyazawa, Bassist Katsuhiro Yano, and internationally acclaimed Percussionist Pheeroan Aklaff, to produce a CD entitled, "A Little Something New". This CD showcases Reed's sultry vocals as she delivers the message of each song, especially "Smile" and "Who Can I Turn To". An original tune, "Changing Love" is written by Reed and Miyazawa. The passionate sound of this CD, is perfect for a quiet afternoon
Positions in education, politics, entertainment and organized religion have all played an important role in preparing Ora for her career accolades. She is a 2017 inductee into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, previously received The Mississippi Traiblazers Legacy Award, the State Institutions of Higher Learning Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award, and as Mississippi's Cultural Ambassador, served as Grand Marshal for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade in her hometown of Jackson, MS. She was honored to sign the Million Dollar George Rodrigue Steinway Piano, which is housed in the artist's Gallery in New Orleans. Ora has always enjoyed embracing foreign cultures, and was recently invited to perform a gospel concert at a Buddhist Temple in Japan, indeed a first! These things only broaden her worldwide stage, as she continues to share her faith and talents, and tout the cultural virtues of her beloved Mississippi!
During COVID-19, with foreign travel not readily available, Ora has shared her talents with friends residing in nursing homes and other senior care facilities. There have been limited Church opportunities, but she is always available to share her faith and positive attitude with her family of friends. Always the voice of reason, with a caring and gentle spirit, she has the listening ear that we all need during these challenging times.
After eighteen years of performance in Asia, which culminated in a special performance at the US Embassy in Tokyo, at the invitation of Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, Ora is excited to be home, and for the future and its possibilities!
CAFE CIRCUIT HISTORY
Awaji Island, JAPAN Westin Hotel
Baltimore, MD USA Eager House, Chiaparelli's, Cafe Des Artistes
Brussels, BELGIUM Metropole Hotel
Dubai, UAE Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Jackson, MS USA Edison Walthall Hotel
Kyoto, JAPAN Takaragaike Prince Hotel
Las Vegas, NV USA Caesar's Palace
Los Angeles, CA USA Attaman's
New Orleans, LA USA Menafees, Feelings Cafe, Ritz Carlton Hotel
Osaka, JAPAN Ritz Carlton Hotel
Otsu, JAPAN Otsu Prince Hotel
Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL People Bar, Club 1, Alo Alo
Sendai, JAPAN Royal Park Hotel
Tokyo, JAPAN LePapillon de Paris, Westin Hotel, Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa, XEX
Past Tours & Concerts
Accompanist for 10-city German tour with Grace Bumbry
Carnegie Hall with Grace Bumbry Vocal Ensemble
Mississippi Symphony Pops Orchestra
Niagara Symphony Orchestra
Trinity Presbyterian Church, Northport, Florida USA
Tiburon Baptist Church, Tiburon, California USA
First Presbyterian Church of Venice Florida, USA
Osaka North Church of Christ, Osaka JAPAN
Bethel Baptist Church, Cincinnati, Ohio USA
New Salem Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia USA
Takefu Steel Concert Hall, Takefu, Japan
Christ United Methodist Church, Jackson Mississippi USA
Independence Day-US Embassy Tokyo, JAPAN
International Tobacco Conference, Brussels, Belgium
Go-Shoji Buddhist Temple, Fukui, Japan
WIN Conference, Oslo Norway
First Baptist Church, Oxford Mississippi USA
Art Works at Nicholls State University, Thibodaux, Louisiana USA
The Chapel at St. Dominic's, Jackson, Mississippi USA
Opera Mississippi's Cabaret Series at Duling Hall "My Funny Valentine, Jackson MS USA
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After a twenty year presence in Japan, Ora returns annually to share her talent. Most recently, at the request of a Buddhist Priest, she was invited to perform a gospel Concert at Go-Shoji temple. Indeed this was a first at the temple, which was built in 1223. Ever anxious to share her faith, this was an ideal opportunity to sing the praises of our Lord! On the local front, an invitation from Opera Mississippi was extended for Ora to be a part of their Cabaret Series. An evening at Duling Hall with the Tyler Kemp Trio was well received by all in attendance.!
A native Mississippian, ORA REED, grew up in the red clay hills of Mississippi, is a graduate of Jackson State University, and has spent most of her recent career sharing her music throughout the world. An accomplished Vocalist/Pianist, she has performed in Brazil, Canada, France, Britain, Malayasia, United Arab Emirates, Japan and throughout the US. Reed, was named Cultural Ambassador for the State of Mississippi by Governor Haley Barbour, and enjoys sharing the virtues of the state wherever her travels take her. A recent inductee into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, Ora is a four-time Cancer Survivor, a member of First Baptist Church Jackson, and she attributes her profound faith, as the basis for her healing.