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  • Bryon Harris

Jennifer Porter - Interview

Jennifer Porter is an award-winning musician, actor and screenwriter. Jennifer, who is a musician’s musician, has sung with Classical and Jazz Orchestras, including the world-famous Glenn Miller Orchestra. As an accomplished Blues pianist, she has played with C.J. Chenier, Nathan and The Zydeco Cha-Chas, and Ils Sont Partis. Jennifer was the first vocalist in Maine inducted into the prestigious musical honor society, Pi Kappa Lambda, which recognizes excellence in both musical performance and academics. She has recorded 7 albums to date, and recently released her newest album, “These Years,” recorded with Legendary producer Jay Newland to rave reviews both here in the U.S. and in Europe. Her song from These Years, Road To Redemption, charted at #1 here on WNIR for the month of March and is currently charting in the top ten on the Country and Mainstream charts on The Independent Music Network. Her album Easy Living (2014), was nominated for a 2015 Independent Music Award in the Jazz With Vocals category, and was heard on jazz stations around the country, including KJAZZ in Los Angeles, WWOZ in New Orleans, and Public Radio International’s Jazz After Hours. Jennifer starred in, and composed and performed the film score for BALLAD OF IDA AND DOOB (1999) and wrote, starred in, and composed and performed the film scores for the critically acclaimed MR. BARRINGTON (2003), and the multiple award-winning 40 WEST (2011). For her work on 40 WEST, Jennifer received Awards of Merit for Acting and Original Score from The Accolade Competition, Gold Prestige Awards for Acting, Original Score and Original Song, and a Silver Prestige Award for Original Screenplay. Jennifer is a proud member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Writers Guild of America, SAG / AFTRA, and Actors’ Equity Association. Jennifer even holds a second-degree black belt in Tai Jujitsu, and has advanced training in Kali and Jeet Kun Do.

What got you into music? At 4 years old, watching a pianist named Maxine entertain everyone at one of my grandparents notorious cocktail parties. She played boogie-woogie, blues and jazz standards. I was fascinated by the movement of her fingers across the keyboard! It amazed me that she could take something sitting mute in the corner and make all of these fantastic sounds come from it. I was hooked! I sat down the next day, when I was alone, and began to pick out, by ear, what she had played the night before, never thinking that I wouldn’t be able to (I guess I was lucky that I could, or I would have been in for a sad realization!). I was always drawn to music, and had a whole repertoire that I would sing for my family during long car trips, but seeing Maxine play, really lit the fire!

What is your favorite part about being an artist? Is it songwriting, performing, recording, something else?) Tell us why. It is performing. I just love making music! I love communicating with the audience, and I love communicating musically with my fellow musicians. There’s nothing like singing a certain note, or playing a certain note in a chord, and having the people you are playing with understand what you are saying to them and having them answer you back. That is one of the happiest things I can think of!

Can you tell us what being in the recording studio is like for you? It depends on the day! I am a perfectionist, and terribly hypercritical of myself, so if I like what I am doing on a certain day, then being in the studio is sheer joy. Sometimes I’m so excited, I can’t help but dance around during playback. Other days I can’t bear to listen to myself for one more second. But I do think that even those days in the studio are valuable, because when I am able to force myself to not over-react, I sometimes learn something from what I’m not liking! As an artist or musician, are there any obstacles you have had to overcome or obstacles that you are facing right now in your career? Right now I’m facing a time management issue. This push to keep putting new content on several social media platforms at once is really taking up valuable time, but I feel the need to do it. It is also difficult, because, I’m embarrassed to say this, but I am rather inept when it comes to using technology. It also feels anathema to me. I have a Smartphone, but it might sit in my desk for weeks without being used. I hate being connected at all times. I just want to experience life’s events in the moment and not have them become fodder for new social media content!

Who do you admire most in the music scene today and why? I love Marcia Ball, Irma Thomas, and Bonnie Raitt. They are such road warriors. I love that they don’t try to keep up with trends, and are letting themselves age naturally. They are beautiful musicians. I’m also a big Michael Franti fan. His music makes me so happy. As far as songwriters, I love Kris Kristofferson, Joni Mitchell, Jake Bugg, and Laura Marling, but my favorite of all time is Rufus Wainwright. His music is just so beautiful! If you could be granted one wish, right now, as an artist, what would you ask for? I would wish for longevity, both physically (nimble, youthful vocal cords, and fingers for as long as possible), and artistically. Time to do all of the things I want to do still as an artist so that I have no regrets. What is on the horizon in the next year for you? I have written a bunch of new songs that I hope to record over the next year. In November I’ll be headed to Europe for a month-long tour. In the meantime, I’ll be playing here in the U.S. over the summer. I am also performing in three plays, and preparing to move to a new house.

To date, what do you think your best song is? Can you describe the song for us?

I guess I’d say Road To Redemption. It is a song about realizing that you aren’t exactly where you want to be, and that only through a commitment to and a faith in action, even if you aren’t sure where the right place to be is, will you eventually find it. Musically it is a mix of R&B and Country with a bit of a Gospel vibe to it.

Tell us where fans can access your music.

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