There was an apple going bad on Adar Seligman-McComas’ desk. But it had been a week of writer’s block and listlessness, and she wasn’t hungry right then. She’d eat it later, she told herself. Over the course of the month, she watched that unwanted apple slowly rot. Then one morning, Seligman-McComas woke up gripped with a thought: “I don’t want that to be me. I don’t want to be the apple.” And so the song “The Other Fruit” was born.
The frontwoman of the band Adar, Seligman-McComas finds inspiration in even the most mundane of muses. Her songs draw on everything from feeling okay with being alone to the anguish of a breakup to, well, fruit.
“Music has made me feel like the things I’m experiencing are things I’m not experiencing alone,” says Seligman-McComas, remembering a time, around age 17, when she listened to Radiohead’s In Rainbows on repeat. Her own music imparts this catharsis in a sweet indie-girl voice reminiscent of Regina Spektor, backed by soulful music that has made grown men in the crowd at Miller’s cry.
Seligman-McComas takes advantage of the emotional connection between performer and audience, using it as a platform. “I’ve had a lot of opportunities,” she says. “I feel it’s the responsibility of the bands in this town to make people feel safe and welcome no matter what ethnic or religious background.” She and her band put together a free unity concert at Rapture in July as an escape from the increasingly sour debate surrounding the Robert E. Lee statue downtown. “This town feels very liberal to me, but it’s a blue dot in a mass of red,” says Seligman-McComas. “I feel like it’s our responsibility to stand in solidarity.”
Adar is coming up on its one-year anniversary as a band. In that year, the group has released an EP (The Rapids) and played locally, everywhere from museums to music festivals to a long list of bars. For Seligman-McComas, who likes singing even more than she likes eating chocolate (“And I really love chocolate,” she laughs), the journey has been a fun one. She’s hoping to get Adar onto the festival circuit for 2018, eyeing a new website, a wider touring range and maybe new music.
Even as it looks to grow, the band maintains its roots in the Charlottesville music scene, which Seligman-McComas describes as impressively supportive of local bands. In her journey from being a 12-year-old recording songs on an MP3 recorder to fronting a Rockn’ to Lockn’ semifinalist band, Seligman-McComas has worked with other familiar local names, including Gina Sobel, Koda Kerl (of Chamomile and Whiskey) and Erin Lunsford. In fact, Lunsford will open Adar’s upcoming show at the Southern on August 19 with an acoustic set.
In the headlining slot, Seligman-McComas is excited to perform for an attentive audience at the Southern, where the mood will likely be introspective. “It will be less upbeat, and a little more quiet,” she says. “But it’s not gonna be seated, because we always get funky.”