On this episode of Music Trails we meet the talented singer, song writer, music festival promoter Opal Agafia. Opal’s trail is embedded in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas where she developed a love of music at a young age but lacked the self -confidence and a plan to share with others. While finishing high school and starting college she discovered she and her mom shared an interest, and talent in writing which resulted in a song writing collaboration.
With original songs in hand Opal developed a receptive audience which of course has grown over the years with the release of multiple recordings and touring with her accomplished band. Opal is also a successful music festival promoter and talks about her upcoming Ozark Soul Music Festival which shares the name of her brand of music.
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Opal Agafia, based in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, embodies the sounds of the Ozark Mountains: a little soul, a little roots, a little rock-and-roll, a little old-timey swing – and a lot of heart. Drawing from many genres, Opal blends the best elements of soul, blues, jazz, gospel, country, swing, and traditional mountain music into a sound that captures the past and boldly pushes ahead.
Opal’s voice is packed with power and emotion; her lyrics are sophisticated yet accessible. The band provides a consistently tight backdrop that pushes every song forward, compelling listeners to pay close attention, lest they miss a single minute of this show. The result is music that’s irresistible, no matter the listener’s background.
Opal, already a skilled songwriter, holds nothing back. She couldn’t if she tried. Every performance seems like their best of the year as the band’s commitment to their music shines. Watching them perform her dozens of originals – with a few covers and jams thrown in now and then – is riveting, as Opal soars at leading the gifted players, effortlessly displaying a commanding stage presence that is as rich as it is rare.
In Her DNA, Perhaps, But Not In Her Original Plans
Even the most studious listener would never know it, but Opal Agafia is relatively new to singing in public.
While a college student studying for a career in marketing, Opal began a songwriting collaboration with her mother, DeAnna Smith, an accomplished writer in other realms. Their songs reflect their deep roots in the Ozark Highlands, as well as their concerns about the current conditions and future of the region. They know their history, but they do not long for it so much as explore how it may shape the future. Their approach is both fresh and familiar.
Opal first performed on stage in January 2015, singing her originals and strumming guitar at a few local joints and smaller music festivals with musician pals and their bands.
In just a few months – cheered on by fans and fellow musicians who admired her work already – Opal Agafia developed a powerful live show backed by: fiddle, mandolin, dobro, acoustic/electric guitar, electric/upright bass, and drums. Together, they put on a high-energy show while taking care to keep the songwriting and vocals in the spotlight.
During that first year, Opal Agafia quickly became a standout in the Arkansas music scene, performing hugely popular sets at festivals such as Highberry and Hillberry, and packed shows at venues from Little Rock to Fayetteville’s George’s Majestic Lounge.
Spring 2016 brought the release their first studio album, “One Down, Forever To Go.” The group’s second album, “Share What You Own,” was released in June 2018 to enthusiastic audiences in packed venues along the album release tour route, including Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Oregon, Utah, and more.
With engaging new songs emerging, Opal has debuted many to appreciative live audiences, and it continues to pump out videos as well. The band’s fan base is an eclectic and broad blend of folks from all walks of life, stretching, where they have established successful tour routes filled with eager supporters.
2022 © Opal Agafia Kurilla