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Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: Oliver Halo

Oliver Halo is a singer, dancer, and professional actor who you may have seen in a recent production of “Jersey Boys.” Their new song “What’s Poppin’” is a feel good jam meant to build confidence and get anyone and everyone up and moving.

Oliver recently spoke with WYEP’s Joey Spehar about the new song, the healing power of music, and how karate helped them become a dancer.

This conversation may be lightly edited for content, clarity, or length.

Jeremy Burnworth

What’s your musical history up to this point?

Music has surrounded me – always, for as long as I can remember. I have many people to thank for inspiring my musical journey, but those that really were the origin of my inspiration would have to be my family. I grew up singing in church, watching my aunt in her high school musicals, and vibing out to my uncle’s albums. Because of my aunt, I found a love and career in professional theatre. Because of my uncle, I felt eager to create and found my own voice–the soul within my own music. And because of my mother, grandma, sister, and MANY others– I found the support system to keep me motivated and to catch me when being a “starving artist” was all too real.

How do you describe your sound? 

My sound is a mixture of Neo-Soul, Pop, and R&B. Imagine if Victoria Monet & Ariana Grande co-parented with Lucky Daye. That’s–that’s Oliver Halo.

Tell us more about the song “What’s Poppin’.” What inspired you to write it and what does it mean to you?  

“What’s Poppin'” is a feel good song, meant to get any and everyone– young and old up and moving! This song is meant to give you confidence, and was purposefully left ambiguous so people of all demographics can find themselves in it. It’s about a time you’ve passed someone who’s caught your eye. Did you share a glance? A smile? Did you even say something?!? Cause I did, and here’s what I said!

Art imitates life, so I am writing about personal relationships and experiences I’ve encountered. Singing alone is a coping mechanism for me. I sing & dance through all moods, so to combine that with creating is something very special for me. It grounds me when I’m anxious, lifts me when I’m depressed, and moves me when I’m joyous.

What was the first album that really changed your life?    

"Ctrl" by Ms. Solana (Sza) is the album that cracked me open and exposed every bit of me. That album helped me learn so much about myself and truly was a pivotal moment in my career. That album also tells a story, and being a theatre girly at heart, I love a good story-telling moment.

Blakely Watkins

Who are some other Pittsburgh artists you think more people should listen to?  

Diviineneon, Sirstockard, and HALLOWAY to name a few! — Stream their music, Pittsburgh has sooo many incredible artists that I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of.

Any other super interesting things we should know about you?

I was introduced to movement by karate; I am actually a 3rd degree black belt! Growing up I’d perform in tournaments. I trained in kenpo and later in gymnastics for up to 15 years. It made the transition to dance so much easier. If you think about it, karate is just like dancing–just more aggressive and lethal.

I am a local professional actor by day! I just closed Jersey Boys with Pittsburgh Musical Theatre and I’m working with a local music director on their original musical. I also recently opened for CupcakKe for Spirit’s Pride event on June 2nd. Stay tuned for new content!

Learn more about Oliver Halo here.

Check out previous Pittsburgh Artists of the Week here.

Joey Spehar is a Pittsburgh native who started as a volunteer D.J. at WYEP, fresh out of college in 2006. He took on any job they’d let him do like editing audio, engineering remote broadcasts, and shoveling snow.