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[[newspaper clipping]]



Music Makers by W. Royal Stokes

[[image - black & white photograph of Deater O'Neill]]
Deater O'Neill
Former student

The evidence is piling up that folks of all ages and disparate backgrounds are hankering after meaningful lyrics set to artful melodies driven by a swinging beat. Vocalist Deater O'Neill points to her two younger sisters who "all of a sudden love to hear music with lovely melodies and good poetry" and observes that "the older generation that lived through the years when all these standards gained their initial popularity, they're appreciating the return of just good love songs and good dancing material."

O'Neill currently sings with her nine-piece band Sundays at Top O' the Town, Rosslyn, and with her trio Mondays at the Pirates' Hideaway in Georgetown. She will be the featured entertainer with a 17-piece orchestra at the Cherry Blossom Festival Ball on April 9 in the new D.C. Convention Center. Cosham will remain at Dot's Spot on Capitol Hill every other Friday and Saturday through August. 

An avowed "flower child" of the late 1960s, O'Neill dropped out of University of Michigan opera studies to go on the road as Jeanie in "Hair" and then joined the Tennessee Blues Band as lead vocalist. Pursuing the classics once again, but in a desultory fashion, she stumbled upon the 1940s style Starlight Orchestra one night and that was it. She joined it for a couple of years here in Washington where it frequently appeared in the Shoreham's Blue Room, once with the late Charlie Spivak as guest trumpet player and on another occasion alternating with a small combo led by trumpeter Billy Butterfield. 

Not long ago O'Neill was called upon at the 11th hour to fill in for the ill vocalist of the Larry Elgart Orchestra on a college date in Pennsylvania and last summer she helped open a jazz room in Honolulu owned by former Stan Kenton saxophonist Gabe Baltazar. 

"I have really dibble-dabbled in everything," she says, adding to the already motley list her five years as soloist at a Methodist church in the District, a National Public Radio appearance in "Medea's Dream" ("the last operatic thing I've done - staged in a shower, a real kick") and jazz gigs at Mr. Y's Lounge and the Black Force Tavern. O'Neill, who grew up in Michigan, has divided the last dozen years about equally between the District and Alexandria. 

At those Sunday evening at the Top O' The Town, a dance set alternates with a show set, O'Neill clarifies, the latter "a 60-40 combination - 40 percent being some old standards or some of today's, things that people are very familiar with, and for the 60 percent I'm doing, for example, George and Ira Gershwin's 'They All Laughed," but with the verse, bringing back some marvelous songs and their verses. And not only do I have great musicians that I can call on for dynamite solos, I have the marvelous arrangements of my alto player, Mike Crotty."

The Washington Post STYLE
Monday, February 28, 1983

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