COLUMBIA — A downtown Columbia theater, The Blue Note, celebrated 40 years of live music and art for residents of central Missouri this year.
A Saturday night show was put on by an R&B/Soul music collective called Soul Sessions COMO featuring Justin Oliver, Symmone Sparks, Josh Runnels (performing as J. artiz) and other local talent.
Guests were required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours prior to the event or proof of full vaccination status to venue security personnel when doors opened at 7 p.m. The first artist performed at 8 p.m.
Musician and University of Alabama graduate Justin Oliver performed his new song “Bipolar Love pt. 2,” for the first time live. The song became available to stream on all platforms on Friday. Fans Oliver screamed after waiting nearly six years since the series’ first part, “Bipolar Love,” premiered in 2016.
The musician said he makes music to inspire others and help them reach their full potential. “The most important message I want to convey through my music is self-love,” he said.
Oliver learned to play the piano at age four and eventually learned to write music to perform at city and school talent shows at age 12.
Oliver said he grew up listening to Michael Jackson and Beyoncé, both of which inspired him to add innovative sounds to create his tracks. He said, “You’ll hear a lot of overlays on my vocals, and a lot of that comes from them and being able to create a real work of art with a song instead of just being a single lead vocal and maybe some. backup voice.
During the pandemic, Oliver was fired from his 9 to 5 job in New York. He decided to switch gears and pursue his dream of being a full-time musician. His passion brought him back to Alabama where he created two albums.
“Singing has always been my therapy, so that’s what I did,” he said.
One of Soul Sessions COMO’s co-founders, D’Andre Thompson, said the organization’s goal is to promote emerging artists by giving their voice a chance in the spotlight.
Thompson said community outreach is key to attracting new talent and shaping the future of soul music. He said the very first Soul Sessions show in November 2021 was his favorite so far, he grinned ear to ear as he recalled the hard work of the co-founders and contending artists becoming a reality.
Soul Sessions hosts shows every fourth Saturday of each month where artists can choose to perform music, spoken word poetry, or visual arts. There is a limit of 10 artists per show. Those vying for a chance to perform must attend weekly jam sessions where they will be judged by the co-founders.
Soul Sessions COMO’s next show will return to Blue Note on February 26th.