Wade Tower is a lifelong Oklahoman and is the CEO of TWT Entertainment, LLC. Tower performs around the state and across the country singing what he calls “happy music” because he is convinced that no one can listen to American standards and not be happy. He is currently producing and starring in “The Chairman and the King,” a concert-style show highlighting the music of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. Tower’s next CD project will come out in the fall of 2023.
How did you get started?
I began like so many others in our part of the world by performing at church. I knew from the second grade what I wanted to do with my life. That led to me taking my first voice lessons when I was in the fourth grade, performing in countless church programs, singing in church, acting in school plays and local community theater roles, a Theater scholarship to Oklahoma State University, film roles and then across the country performing for corporate and private events. I was blessed that I had parents who had zero entertainment experience, but they supported me from day one and they are still my biggest encouragers.
Did you always want a career in the music industry?
I still have a drawing I did in the second grade where I drew a man onstage dressed in a jumpsuit and I wrote, “I want to be a famous singer like Bobby Goldsboro.” Obviously, that shows my age. But yes, I always wanted to be a performer and music was something that I loved and it came easy to me. I grew up watching old movies with my mother and my favorites were the films from the 40s – 60s that included Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra where they wore these great suits and work as singers at those beautiful supper clubs. That was the life I wanted for myself.
What is your role in the music industry?
I am a singer/entertainer. I can tinker with a guitar to find chords and on a piano to work out notes, but I don’t consider myself a musician by any means. Especially after working with the musicians in my bands over the last 13 years. Most of them have dedicated their lives to one instrument and their dedication and their talent is something I still marvel at today. I sing. I love using the instrument God gave me and I am thankful I get to use it in so many ways.
Most Recent Successes / Placements / Accomplishments / Projects? Career highlight?
It’s funny, I had this conversation with a musician just last week. Success in the entertainment business, music or otherwise, is simply working consistently. It doesn’t have to be a fabulous venue with hundreds of people, but any time an artist can do what they love and provide for their family is something special.
I have been blessed to sing at some fantastic events over my career. I was fortunate enough to perform at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame induction ceremony a few years ago. I have performed for the Oklahoma City Thunder at games and a few of their private events. I have performed for the Oklahoma Speaker’s Ball a few times. I sang at a Mary Kay National Convention years ago when Mary Kay was alive. I have been able to perform all over the United States from San Francisco to New York City and every single event has been a gift. I opened for Bob Newhart a few years ago at River Spirit in Tulsa and that was a blast mainly due to how incredibly nice Bob was offstage. Plus, he packed their 2,500 seat venue and that made for a fun time onstage.
My biggest highlight was the first show I headlined at a casino a decade ago. The style of music I do is very much made for the casino audience and atmosphere and there is something about creating a show, planning out the production and seeing it come to life in front of people that gives me a great sense of satisfaction. I was scared to death walking onto that stage at the time because I had no idea how it would be received, but I have headlined four other shows at The Grand since and also at Sugar Creek. I have worked at most of the casinos that have venues from Riverwind to the Choctaw Casino in Durant, but those were private events. It’s odd, I don’t gamble because I am horrible at it, but I love casinos. I love the variety of people you see, the feeling of relaxation that people have as soon as they walk through the doors and the simple fact that people go there to have a good time. Life can be hard these days. Knowing people are spending their hard-earned money and their time to come out looking for some laughs and great music means the world to me.
Which leads to my newest project and the project I am more excited about than any other I have done. A decade ago I had an idea about a show that blends the music of Sinatra and Elvis into one show. It is really two concerts in one, the first half of the show is all Sinatra music and the second half of the show is all Elvis music. The audience gets to hear only the best songs of Sinatra’s cool elegance and then only the greatest hits and the energy of Elvis. It is not an impersonation show, but I do have a lot of fun onstage and the band absolutely crushes the music. It is so much fun and I cannot wait for audiences to see it. We are having discussions with venues right now about the best place to premiere it, but in my mind, this show was made for a casino. A show about two of the biggest Vegas legends in history needs to be on stage surrounded by the sounds of slot machines and blackjack tables.
I am also committed to releasing at least one new album each year. It has been too long since I have released anything and I love being in the studio. Conventional wisdom says that recording music is a dying venture, but I believe people will always want music they can play in their home or car or listen to while relaxing. The music I sing is music made to help people relax and enjoy life and I have a list of projects that are each themed that I am really excited to let people hear. Plus, with the popularity of vinyl records these days this music is a perfect fit.
What is your favorite Oklahoma music venue, music store, or recording studio?
Well, the recording studio is easy. There are obviously many great studios in the state and thankfully, many more being opened all of the time. But, I fell in love with The Music Group studios in Edmond years ago when I was recording some demo work for myself. LG, the owner, is an incredible guy and he does everything he can to help me feel comfortable and he loves the music I do, which helps. I love recording with live musicians when at all possible. In a perfect world I would record with a room full of musicians just as Sinatra did for his entire career.
You are putting me on the spot with venues. But, for private events my favorite is the National Cowboy and Heritage Museum. That grand ballroom is so beautiful with the murals on the walls and any event in that room typically has at least several hundred attendees so it is a special place. Plus, their staff is always great to work with and their tech team is first class.
But, my favorite venues for my concerts would have to be the casinos that have theaters and of course, the many historic theaters in our state.
Networking and connecting with others who share your dream or vision is a vital aspect to the music industry. Can you share which Oklahoma organizations (if any) have contributed to your success and are there Oklahoma organization you would recommend other connect with? To help further their craft or promotion?
I believe the answer to that question is based on musical genre. Of course, the Oklahoma Film + Music Office is one of the best ways for musicians to get their name out to people. You have so much influence and the ability to genuinely help artists, but I don’t think many know everything you can do.
For me, the UCO Jazz Lab and their entire music program has been a fantastic resource. For the music I do I can’t say enough about how much they have helped connect me to musicians and arrangers and producers. There are so many talented people teaching music around our state that most people have no idea how lucky we are to have them. We have musicians that have played around the globe, with some of the biggest names in music, but they call Oklahoma home and teaching allows them to make a living while also getting to do what they love during the evenings and weekends.
For my genre, the band teachers in our state are the unsung heroes. They teach young people about the discipline involved in becoming a great artist and they teach them how beautiful jazz and standards can be when done well. Many of the people in my band teach music during the day and they love it. When you love music like they do, you are thrilled to be able to pass that love on to the next generation to keep it alive.
For other genres I know there are other “communities” and organizations that help support their work and do their best to keep them in the public eye. I know many country and red dirt artists and they have a really strong family around the state and the region.
How can we follow you? Best place to purchase and listen to your music (if applicable)?
One of my favorite questions. 😉 You can buy my music on iTunes and CD Baby. You can listen to me on Pandora, Spotify and Amazon Music as well. My website at wadetower.com is where you can learn a little more about me and follow my calendar, but it is being totally redone in March so there will be days when it is down. I am also active on almost all platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and even Pinterest.
Advice for someone interested in working in the music industry.
Play what you love. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and be willing to perform whenever you can when you are first starting. I have done birthday parties, family reunions and small get togethers in people’s homes. There is no such thing as a “small gig” and if someone is willing to pay you to hear you play your music, you should be grateful and give them 100% effort.
Also, be yourself. As I said, play what you love and don’t worry about whether or not it is the current top genre of music. There are audiences for every type of music and people are drawn to sincerity and people who are true to themselves. I spent years making those same mistakes and thankfully, I ended up right where I started singing the music that makes me happy, when others love it too, that is a bonus.
What are some of the benefits of having a music career in Oklahoma?
Definitely the cost of living, but more importantly the quality of people that you can work with while pursing your work here. Our state has so many talented people in all genres from classical to jazz to country to red dirt to rap. If you want to pursue a career in music you can easily do that in our state. With everything happening around the motion picture and television work here, there is going to be even more opportunities to get your music on screen and for commercial work. Plus, as Tulsa and Oklahoma City continue to invest in entertainment, as well as the smaller towns adding and/or updating concert venues, like Stillwater’s downtown amphitheater that begins construction this year, there is going to be more and more options for people to work on their craft.
Let me add that our audiences are some of the best on the planet. I live in Oklahoma because I love the people here and whether a concert or a corporate event, I always find the audiences here to be some of the best I can find. They are friendly and they understand the give and take between performers and audiences. We are all just trying to make the most of our time here on earth and when we all get on the same page for 75-90 minutes, something amazing happens. Memories get created and I have friendships that began over a decade ago simply because I met someone before or after a show. I tell my daughters all of the time that relationships are all that matter in this life. No one should feel like they are alone in this world and through music people are able to make connections with others they might not ever meet in their daily lives.
Favorite quote (if applicable)
“The only difference between you today and you five years from now are the books you read and the people you meet.”
Each featured individual or business is given the provided questions to answer in their own voice. Other than formatting and grammar, the answers are personal to each featured voice, and are not provided by the Oklahoma Film + Music Office.