BEST BETS: Parker in tune with Wyoming Peach Festival

To say Meeta Parker has an eclectic repertoire would be a massive understatement.

She has recorded nine solo albums over the years. They have included three dance records, jazz, country, rock, progressive and Indian chants.

She’s currently working on a 10th with a band in Italy, which is a record of cover tunes, including “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan, Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

The record, due in October, is appropriately titled “Take Cover.”

The Newark resident will headline this year’s Wyoming Peach Festival starting at 1 p.m. Saturday, doing a mix of country, oldies and her own material.

“I started out doing straight-up rock but I sing everything. I’m an artist so I float into whatever is on my table at the time. The hardest thing to write is progressive. I found that quite challenging,” she said.

Ms. Parker, who grew up in Wilmington, burst onto the music scene in the early 1980s.

At 16, under her maiden name of Meeta Gajjar, she recorded the rock single, “Wild About You,” for Alpha International Records and, in so doing, she said she became the first female rock singer of Indian descent. Her parents were both born in India.

A year later, she was back in the studio with producer Lance Quinn recording “Come Back For More,” at the Power Station in New York. She returned to the studio with Dexter Wansel on Virgin Records, to record two songs on his “Captured” album, which was released in Europe and got her international notice. It was re-released in 2012 worldwide.

She appeared as a guest vocalist performing the song “Forbidden Fruit” on the Philadelphia dance show “Dancin’ On Air.” Her recording also aired on Dick Clark’s Rate-A-Record segment of “American Bandstand”.

Ms. Parker says she was singing “as soon I could open my mouth.”

She started writing songs at age 11 with her father paying for a demo recording of her original songs at age 15.

Singer Meeta Parker, of Newark, will perform at the Wyoming Peach Festival. (Submitted photo)

Her teen fame brought her to India where she performed at Tagore Hall.

“Back in the ’80s, there really wasn’t anyone doing what I did as a female from India. They had never seen anyone use the stage like I did,” Ms. Parker recalled.

“It was pretty awesome and crazy. Fans were grabbing onto the car. I was interviewed in all of the major magazines. It was a pretty exciting and amazing time.”

A Philadelphia record company offered her a contract but it was not to be.

“My dad thought they were mafia and they probably were,” she said with a laugh.

“He paid for a lawyer and they tore it all apart. Years later, I think I probably should have signed it. I had nothing to lose. My life would have gone in a different direction and it would have put me on the map. But he was just trying to protect me. Although I was devastated at the time and thought my life was over.”

These days, she performs solo with her husband, Frank, as sound man. She sings to pre-recorded tracks, which eliminates the need for a band.

“We’re a different kind of duo. The music is all sequenced and I front it like a band. I can do everything from Frank Sinatra to Halestorm.”

She performs mainly in the New Castle County area, with the Peach Festival a rare Kent County appearance.

Most of the time, she can be found performing from her home studio. She is sought by various bands and producers across the country, and in her latest case with the Italian band Fortunes and Folklore, around the world.

They send her the tracks and she sings to them and sends them back.

“It’s a dream for a singer. I don’t have to leave the house. I’ve sung in tons of studios over the years, in Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore. Sometimes they give you a piece of pizza and you wait around to sing. Other times, they have you sing and just get you out of there,” she said.

“I’ve been doing this for so long now that I know my craft so well. I can harmonize with myself and do all this cool stuff with my voice.”

The Camden-Wyoming Peach Festival parade down Camden-Wyoming Avenue last year. (Delaware State News file photo)

Along with her music, she teaches yoga and wrote a children’s book called “Cookie The Clown” which was published by Publish America and can be purchased online.

“People ask me why I’m not this world-famous singer,” she said with a laugh.

“But I’ve had an amazing life.”

The Peach Festival kicks off with a parade at 9 a.m. on Camden-Wyoming Avenue from Fifer Middle School to West Third Street.

Free shuttle bus rides will be available to events around the railroad platform and Wyoming Town Hall from W.B. Simpson Elementary School at 5 Old North Road and Wyoming United Methodist Church at 216 Wyoming Mill Road.

Before Ms. Parker, festival entertainment will be provided by the Wyoming Peach Festival Band at 10 a.m., Rick Hudson and Mike Quinn at 11 a.m. and puppeteer Jack Foraker at noon.

Along with craft and food vendors, displays, costumed characters, children’s rides, games and music, the festival will include a peach dessert contest and a raffle for a Mission Barbecue basket, valued at $35. Raffle tickets will be $1 each or six tickets for $5 and will be sold at the information booth.

Dessert contest and raffle winners will be announced at 2 p.m. The festival ends at 3 p.m. All proceeds benefit community improvement projects.

‘Christo and Jeanne-Claude’

Starting today, a traveling exhibition of a unique, rare collection of works of art by renowned artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude will visit the Biggs Museum of American Art until Oct. 22.

This exhibition chronicles the career of the husband and wife artistic team, well known for projects such as “The Gates” (Central Park, 2005) and “Running Fence”.

The exhibition features extremely rare artworks that commemorate and celebrate the large-scale environmental installations undertaken by the couple for more than 40 years. The collection includes original drawings, sculptures, collages and photographs capturing the versatility, longevity and international scope of the duo’s extensive career.

An opening reception is set for today from 5 to 7 p.m. and is free with admission. The annual “Award Winners XVII” is also on display.

The Biggs Museum is at 406 Federal St. in Dover. For more information, call 674-2111 or visit www.BiggsMuseum.org.

Bad Juju In Harmony

Local blues band Bad Juju will play the Dover Public Library’s In Harmony series today at 6:30 p.m. at Loockerman Way Plaza in downtown Dover.

Bad Juju was formed in 2008. Their music is described as a blend of classic old school blues, sometimes with a twist, an edge and maybe even a little soul.

Bad Juju has opened for Chris Duarte, Bryan Lee, Moreland and Arbuckle, Chris O’Leary, Sean Chambers and Albert Castiglia.

Call for directors

The Second Street Players of Milford recently announced their 2018 season. They will be taking all serious inquiries for directors up to Sept. 24. Anyone interested in directing any of the five Main Stage shows or three Children’s Theater shows should submit a letter of interest to Joshua Gross at jgross@atlanticrhc.com.

The 2018 Main Stage Season is as follows:

•“The 39 Steps,” described as a Hitchcock masterpiece mixed with a juicy spy novel and a dash of Monty Python.

The comic whodunnit has over 150 characters played by a cast of four, an on-stage plane crash, handcuffs, missing fingers and romance.

•“The Elephant Man” is based on the life of John Merrick, who lived in London during the latter part of the 19th century. A horribly deformed young man — a victim of rare skin and bone diseases — becomes the star freak attraction in traveling sideshows. Found abandoned and helpless, he is admitted to London’s prestigious Whitechapel Hospital. Under the care of celebrated young physician Frederick Treves, Merrick is introduced to London society and slowly evolves from an object of pity to an urbane and witty favorite of the aristocracy and literati, only to be denied his ultimate dream — to become a man like any other.

•“Shrek: The Musical” is based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks animation film. It features new songs and brings all the characters from the film to life on stage.

•“Night of The Living Dead” pits six strangers, a lonely farmhouse and brain-eating zombies. It’s a fun re-imagining of George A. Romero’s classic. More than just a recreation of the story, the play celebrates the history and influence of the movie. T

•“Miracle on 34th Street” tells the holiday tale of Kris Kringle, an old man in a retirement home, who gets a job working as Santa for Macy’s. Kris unleashes waves of goodwill with Macy’s customers and the commercial world of New York City by referring parents to other stores to find exactly the toy their child has asked for. Seen as deluded and dangerous by Macy’s vocational counselor, who plots to have Kris shanghaied to Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital, Kris ends up in a court competency hearing.

2018 Children’s Theater 10th season anniversary shows are:

•“Elves and the Shoemaker” is relocated to an American city in the early 20th century and is turned into a jazzy, vaudevillian romp. The devious millionaire head of ShoeBucks attempts to take over the last old-fashioned shoe store in town, run by Avner and his son Izzy. But Izzy calls on reinforcements in the form of zany and magical elves to save the family business.

•“The Frog Prince” is the age-old children’s story of the prince who is turned into a frog and must find a pure and honest woman to kiss him of her own free will.

•“Rumpelstiltskin” is a re-imagining of the classic fairy tale that features two strong-willed sisters: Anya, shy and romantic, and Ingrid, outspoken and sensible. When their widowed mother is once again victim to the judgments of others, she tells a tiny lie — Anya can turn straw into gold. Soon, the story “spins” out of control when the King believes Anya is the reason their nation is out of money and demands she perform her special skill for the royal coffers.

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New in theaters this weekend is Stephen King’s fantasy tale “The Dark Tower,” Halle Berry’s suspense-thriller “Kidnap” and the true-life civil unrest story “Detroit.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the Amy Schumer-Goldie Hawn comedy “Snatched,” “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” and Richard Gere in the drama “The Dinner.”

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Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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