May 22, 2020

Digital Dive is an extension of our Deep Dive program, which invites our audience to take a more in-depth exploration of our artists and events.

AJ Odneal Head Shot Nina Paz Photography
AJ Odneal, photo by Nina Paz Photography

As the Center’s local artist programmer, I am lucky to work with some incredible artists from the Valley. This is the story of one of those artists, AJ Odneal, and how, over time, our relationship blossomed into some beautiful and unexpected experiences.

I first came across Odneal’s work through her YouTube page; if you’re unfamiliar, I’d highly recommend for you to check out now. Her sweet personality is carefully captured on film, and her songs will make you feel like you’ve been hugged.

Odneal has performed on our stages a few times over the years. She participated in our Scottsdale Arts Festival, Sunday A’Fair (our free concerts in the park series), and Live & Local series.

AJ Odneal Stage 2
AJ Odneal during her 2019 Live and Local performance. Photo: Zach Ciaburri

After getting to know Odneal a little better—her love for intimate engagements, fun exchanges with audience, and sincere collaboration—our team thought she’d be a perfect artist to involve in our annual Scottsdale Arts Gala. I remembered that Odneal mentioned how much she enjoys working with youths, so we proposed a residency to Odneal, where she would work with Ingleside Middle School choir, a nearby school and partner with Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation, on a performance for the gala.

AJ Odneal and Ingleside MS Choir
AJ Odneal and Ingleside Middle School Choir performers right before their 2019 Scottsdale Arts Starry Night Gala performance.

Odneal visited the choir four times leading up to the gala to develop a set of songs inspired by our theme, Starry Night. The students were in awe of her intuitive creativity when it came to arrangement, her colorful style, and obviously the fact that she had a TikTok. The exchange was magical. A youth choir singing “Moon River” in harmony with Odneal cued in many tears (mainly my own). The students have also kept in touch with Odneal, inviting her to a few of their performances since then and recently their Zoom choir class.

After this memorable residency and collaboration, it was clear the young creatives of the world need more Odneal in their life (as do we all). That is why our programming team this year is planning something extra special with Odneal for our youth and family audiences. Stay tuned for more information of what we have cooking with Odneal when we announce our 2020–21 season and an upcoming Summer Streams performance. In the meantime, we hope you’re able to enjoy and support the work of local artists like AJ Odneal.

AJ Odneal performs at Scottsdale Arts 2019 Starry Night Gala
AJ Odneal performs at the 2019 Scottsdale Arts Starry Night Gala. Photo: Haute Media

To hear more or support AJ Odneal please follow these links below:

Diandra Adamczyk, Senior Programming Coordinator

Written by Diandra Adamczyk, senior programming coordinator.

Adamczyk oversees much of the local programming and community engagement events at the Center.

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