Biography – Adam Sippola

Adam Sippola

Photo Credit: Three Irish Girls Photography

Adam Sippola is an actor, singer, director, and musician living in Duluth, MN. Acting roles include Jean Valjean in Les Misérables at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (Dorothy Danner, director), Guido in NineJesus in Jesus Christ SuperstarDoctor Madden in Next To Normal, Ché in Evita, Bobby in Company, Leo Frank in Parade, Roger in Rent, Tommy in The Who’s Tommy, Jamie in The Last Five Years, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Sweeney in Sweeney Todd. Directing credits include Nine and The Last Five Years, both produced by The Duluth Playhouse in The Underground, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which he directed and produced with the Duluth Organic Theater Community (DOTC) at Leif Erickson Park. Adam Sippola is also the founder of Zenith City Cabaret, a monthly musical theater Cabaret in the Zeitgeist Arts Atrium Lobby.

“Sippola is a virtuoso of emotional bending…”

Born on January 28th, 1978 in Minneapolis, MN, Adam began playing the cello when he was 5 years old, studying privately for 12 years with Betsy Husby, principal cellist with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra. When he was 11, he began singing in choirs, and has been studying voice and the art of singing ever since. After establishing a classical foundation through performance in choral, orchestral, and chamber settings, Adam delved into musical theater as an emerging passion. In 1997, Sippola began playing the Adam in Egyptdidgeridoo and branching out into experimental and improvisational music, focusing on a diversity of vocal styles including Qawwali – a sufi devotional form, soul, Tuvan throat singing, overtone singing, and a variety of chant forms. This musical exploration mirrored a time of spiritual seeking and discovery, when Sippola hitch-hiked the country and lived on the road, sustaining himself as a poet and street musician, before returning to Duluth, where he continued to pursue art as an actor, singer, poet, and vocal soloist. In 2000, Adam recorded his first album, Awake.

“The versatility of his voice is a marvel, producing the tender yearnings of a man who once was and escalating into a booming madness when, with razor thrust menacingly at the audience, he seethes with revenge.”

John Sippola and Adam SippolaAdam then took a several year hiatus from Minnesota and the theater to raise a family, and in 2006, recorded the album Nine Songs in his home studio in Colorado. He returned to Duluth in 2008, where he began a new chapter of his life in the theater, and as a musician and performer. Adam reconnected with longtime friend and Duluth musician, Will Adamczak. Over the course of several months, Sippola and Adamczak co-wrote and work-shopped an album of songs, eventually forming the rock band, Cold Current, with Sippola as lead singer on the band’s self-titled album. He also began an experimental folk duo, Hidden Roots, performing with his dad, John Sippola.

“Sippola is at turns wry and deeply moving in his vocal performances and other moments on stage.”

In 2010, between theater projects Adam began experimenting with live-looping, creating improvised and composed pieces with a rich vocal foundation, highlighted by didgeridoo, cello, and percussion, and employing the use of a looping pedal. Drawing from his classical roots as a cellist and vocalist, and branching into the meditative unknown of improvised sound, he brought together his experiences as a street musician, lead singer, and from the musical theater stage to create a transformational musical experience. In 2015, Adam recorded and released a live-looping album, Rising Point.

“There’s not much more to say about Sippola’s vocal power other than that it is, for lack of a better word:  impressive.  The timbre of his voice and his ability to get inside and curl around Sondheim’s difficult repertoire with ease and precision is the show’s valuable asset…”

Dorothy Danner and Adam Sippola

Dorothy Danner with Adam Sippola backstage for Les Misérables

Adam has also been a member of the Twin Ports Choral Project since 2012. He loves contributing to the rich artistic culture of Duluth, and sharing in the joy of a vibrant and expanding arts community on the shore of the greatest of the great lakes, which he loves to plunge into often.

Some collaborative artistic efforts outside of theater productions include:

  • Producing and performing in Musical Theater Burlesque – a collaborative show between the Duluth Dolls and Zenith City Cabaret.
  • Producing and performing the Rising Point Album Release Concert – A multimedia and multi-medium concert experience at Sacred Heart Music Center celebrating the release of Adam Sippola’s album, Rising Point.
  • Writing and performing Vain – an original composition for Noteworthy, a collaboration between poets and musicians organized by Duluth Poet Laureate, Deborah Cooper, performed at Weber Hall, UMD in 2014.
  • Writing and performing Play, Control, Unite – an original composition in 3 movements for Off The Record, a collaboration between musicians, choreographers and dancers at Marshall Performing Arts Center, UMD in 2014. Adam worked with choreographer Amber Burns on this project.
  • Writing and recording two original songs and background scoring for the 2012 independent film, Shambhala and the 13th Crystal Skull.
  • Writing and recording an original composition for The Peace Labyrinth, an interactive quilt labyrinth created by Janet McTavish, and premiered in 2012.
  • Writing and recording the score for Ghost Light, an original play by Andy Bennett, premiered in 2012 at Renegade Theater Company.
*Quotations are from theater reviews by Dennis Kempton, published in Oeuvre Magazine.