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Rising Stars: Meet Angel Adedokun

Today we’d like to introduce you to Angel Adedokun.

Angel, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I am a Nigerian-American bilingual vocalist, musician, songwriter, and performer. I started singing in the church choir when I was three years old. They had me standing on a chair so I would be as tall as the big kids when I was singing.

From then on, I fell in love with music from the likes of Prince (my favorite), to Sade, to Michael Jackson, to Joni Mitchell, to Cree Summers, to Selena Quintanilla, to Steve Perry, to Celia Cruz…there are so many!

After growing up singing in the children’s choir at church, I went on to doing a show called “The Friday Zone” in Bloomington, Indiana as an actor. Though I loved acting, I fell even more in love with Latin music and started singing Selena covers. There is no rhyme or reason, I just loved her passionate vocals, stage presence, and the language.

When I sang in Spanish, I felt so connected. It was my 8th-grade talent show that really got my singing career going. I sang “Si Una Vez” and no one was expecting it. There was a lady that organized the Mayor’s annual Cinco de Mayo, Latin Celebration, and Indiana State Fair Festivals every year, and she asked me to sing with her and her Folklorico dancers. After booking that opportunity, I sang for various Latino festivals in Indiana until I hit high school. When I graduated, I met a group called Grupo Bembe and we joined voices. I became one of their vocalists. From there, I sang with many other Latin groups including, Grupo Tumbao, and Trio Con Paz. We performed everything from Salsa, Merengue, Bachata to Latin Rock, Cumbia, and Plena. Through these amazing groups, my love and passion for performing with live music grew even more. I learned too much about music and I also felt at home. Then in 2015, I moved to California and hit the ground running with all things musical theatre. I booked my first gig doing SILENCE! The Musical as Ardelia Mapp with Ray of Light in San Francisco. I thought I would go back home after that but really found a strong community here and continued to book gigs.

Since then, I have performed at many theaters and in some really fantastic shows with incredible humans. A few of my roles include Cinderella (Cinderella) with African American Shakespeare Theatre, Passing Strange (Sherry, Marianna, and Sudabey) with Shotgun players, Avenue Q (Gary Coleman) with NCTC, Jesus Christ Superstar (Peter) with Ray of Light, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Once More With Feeling (Sweet) at The Oasis. I also had the honor of serving as Choreographer for “Caroline or Change” and co-choreographer for Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Both with Ray of Light Theatre in San Francisco. While performing in these shows, I was also a teacher. I worked with Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Berkeley Playhouse, and many more children’s theatre as a teaching artist. My duties included Directing, choreography, and musical direction for main stage shows. Some of my favorite teaching moments was teaching in Shanghai with BACT as their music director and for Junior Theatre Festival in Australia with BACT’S advanced performers. The latter was via ZOOM due to the pandemic but we still pulled through and my students were incredible. They even won a few awards! During the Pandemic, I also put together a non-profit with my friends called, Yeah, Art! where we bring arts education to kids in Oakland in schools that lack funding for the arts.

Along with musical theatre, I also performed with Oakland-based choir Ja Ronn and FLOW and found another beautiful family and community. With FLOW, I performed at weddings, churches and got to perform in and choreograph our show at Yoshi’s in Oakland and BottleRock in Napa Valley singing background for Bishop Briggs. Most recently, I had the honor of singing with and providing background vocals for Bebe Zahara at the Oasis. The past five years in the Bay have been an immense joy! I love my community and the work that I do. However, the little three years old that used to sing in the church choir is saying, “Girl, don’t you have music to put out!?” And I sure do. In 2020, I out my first EP “Love Always, Angel”. It is available on Bandcamp.com and Spotify. It was a stepping stone to sharing a piece of my heart and another step into my musical journey of using music to heal, be fearless, and to create space for others. My first live solo show was this past February at the Oasis in San Francisco for Black History Month and I am currently working on my new full album set to be released in 2023.

This album is extremely special. It is many things. It’s me taking a chance on myself as a solo artist and a love letter to my community and my people. I have the immense honor of collaborating with my friends on my album and it feels like a culmination of stories through my short (or long) precious time in the Bay. For this album, I got to collaborate with my brother from another Mother, Mike Blankenship (Engineer and incredible pianist), my friend Gabe Zapata (Co-producer and roundhouse instrumentalist), and some more really fantastic folks. My love for albums is indescribable. Growing up, I used to spend hours going through the little booklets in the cd cases because I wanted to know everything about the album. I love that albums tell full stories. Though the market in America is more so interested in singles, my mindset is still the same. My album is a story from front to back and each song matters. This is a new chapter for me and I’m excited for the ride.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
This journey has not been smooth or easy, but it is mine and I am thankful for it. Growing up, my mum and I did not have a lot of money and my mum was always in school (until I was about 13) so it was a bit tricky. I felt a lot of financial stress and worry when I was younger. Also, being the only kid of color for the majority of my school years was rough. There was a lot of bullying. There are other things but I feel most comfortable talking about these two.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a vocalist, songwriter, and performer. I specialize in creating music and songwriting. My music is centered around storytelling and creating music that heals. I am most known for my vocal performance and acting performance within the musical theatre scene in the Bay Area but am transitioning to being a full-time musician. I am most honored to be able to contribute to the black community by being representation within the world of musical theatre and choreography, and casting. I am also honored to write, create music, and collaborate with musicians that come from various backgrounds. Many things set me apart as a multifaceted artist. Though I am Nigerian – American (born to an English mother) Latin music touched my soul at a very young age and I have become immersed in it ever since. I also have an eclectic artistic background as an actor, dancer, choreographer, casting associate, vocalist, and songwriter.

I write about my experiences as a black woman and about many of the experiences I have faced as a woman of color in theatre and in this world. My storytelling also flourishes by experiencing other people. I love to people watch! One day I was at school and I saw a woman run into a pole….thus a song was born! I can write about anything. I love that you can never get bored with songwriting and the rhythm of words.

What makes you happy?
Singing and working with other musicians. It makes me happy because it is so easy to feel isolated in this world. However, when I am on stage, it is my house and I feel completely at home. When I’m performing live with other musicians, there is nothing like it. We can do a whole set without speaking and still leave with having the most priceless conversation between us and the audience. It’s all one being.

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Image Credits:

Darius Riley Junior Theatre Festival Shotgun Players Berkeley Playhouse Grupo Bembe

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