Wednesday, May 31, 2017
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office
ADA, Okla. -- If Glenn Sulley’s father had not left a guitar laying around his childhood home in eastern Canada, he might not be preparing for a feature performance 7 p.m., Saturday, June 3, at the McSwain Theatre.
Young Sulley’s dad taught him a few chords. But, he mostly taught himself guitar by plucking and strumming out his favorite tunes.
An accessible guitar was not the only fortunate happenstance deciding the flow of Sulley’s musical life. His concert this Saturday, “Diamond on the Rock - A Tribute to Neil Diamond,” owes its existence to many events. It was one thing after the other.
Had his parents not popped in 8-track tapes of Neil Diamond’s music while the family drove around, the youngster have never connected to Diamond’s work. And it was that connection that guided him as he developed his own musical skill.
“They’d play Neil Diamond in the background--in the car, at home in the evenings, on the weekends. I was hugely influenced because they were big fans of his,” Sulley explained. “I became a fan. I enjoyed his songwriting skills and I became a songwriter.”
Without years performing in Catholic school choirs and local bands, this now polished performer might not have fully realized his stage presence and vocal prowess. And if music was not in his blood, his story might be entirely different.
“I come from a family of musicians; cousins, uncles, you name it. Everyone in my family was tied to music. It is in my DNA,” Sulley said.
One of his first big crowd-pleasers when he began performing live as a teen was Diamond’s “Play Me,” which is on his setlist for the Ada show.
“People would always ask me to play that one. I sounded just like him they would say. Diamond’s music was not only a favorite of mine, but also the audience,” he explained.
So, it was no surprise when he honed in on Neil Diamond music in his local performances.
Had his aunt, a Catholic nun, had not noticed Sulley’s inclination to help others, she would not have recommended he go into nursing. Which he did. Oklahoma’s need for nurses is what brought him to the state, where he now serves as Senior Nurse Manager at the University of Oklahoma’s Physicians Urology Clinic.
All of his potential, practice and aspiration as a performer built up over time. It seemed to reach a tipping point 15 years ago when he experienced his first Neil Diamond in concert, live and on the front row right beside his father. He said it was a once in a lifetime experience.
“I was singing along with Neil, he was looking down at me. I felt I was part of the show,” Sulley recalled. “It was unreal. I was thinking, am I really here? Is this really happening?”
This experienced moved in him to solidify his aspirations. He would turn his dream into a reality. But not just yet.
Many decisions and circumstances led Sulley to Oklahoma, possessing the will and ability to recreate the Neil Diamond experience at sold out venues. None of these were more important than an out-of-the-blue burst of motivation three years ago, when it all clicked.
It was something he had dreamed of since childhood, performing to crowds in tribute of the musician who inspired him to take up performing in the first place.
“Three years ago, I just decided to do it. My first show sold out. I got the bug,” Sulley said.
Since then, his Neil Diamond tribute bands have been a staple in the Oklahoma City area. And more recently, he has branched out to places like Colorado and southern Oklahoma, including Ada.
For five years, Sulley has frequented the McSwain Theatre stage as a special performer during Jae L. and Crossover shows. His headliner June 3 will be his first full show dedicated to Neil Diamond at the McSwain.
His performance at the McSwain will be based around one of Diamond’s most famous albums, the 1972 “Hot August Night.”
To keep up to date on Sulley and his performances, visit http://sulleydiamondtribu.wixsite.com/sulleyandsisson.
The McSwain Theatre is located at 130 W. Main Street. For ticket information, contact the McSwain office at 580-332-8108 or at http://www.mcswaintheatre.com.
Follow theatre updates on Facebook at Facebook.com/McSwainTheatre or on Twitter at Twitter.com/McSwainTheatre.