Originally from New York, Jeannie's “jazzy roots” tend to show every now and then, along with flavors of pop, folk, and rock, and so she has penned songs in a variety of genres. But basically, her musical style is intimate, organic, and heart-felt, and she offers up her creations with enchanting diversity and skill. Jeannie's fans often remark that her memorable songs touch and "up-lift" them and that her unique guitar-picking technique and soft velvet vocals blend well and have a soothing effect upon the listener. Soul food, for sure.
Award-winning singer/songwriter and recording artist, Jeannie Willets, started writing music at age 15, when her dad bought her cousin's old electric guitar (and amp that hummed, really loudly!) for her to start with. Her fingers bled for a while, as she explored this intriguing instrument, but her curiosity carried her through the pain and blocked out that horrible hum of the dying amplifier. (Which was a feat in itself!) On her following birthday, she received a nylon string guitar, which was SUCH a relief (on her fingers) and so much easier to play, and soon took a few lessons from her school friend, Carlos, who taught her some basic major chords. This opened up a whole new world to her, as she had just been experimenting and making up her own chords before this. (But, in all honesty, she still makes up her own chords. That's just the way she is.)
Earlier on, Jeannie was actually an art major all through school but she had always loved music and you could say that familiarizing herself with the guitar began a whole new chapter in her life, a point from which there was no return.
In the early 1980's, Jeannie started playing in what was referred to at the time, "the new acoustic revival" in Greenwich Village and frequented venues such as The Speakeasy and Folk City, where many folk/pop icons got their start, (Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Peter, Paul, & Mary, etc.) Playing on the same stages as those greats and Suzanne Vega and Shawn Colvin, who were rising to fame at the time, Jeannie's passionate flame to write, perform, and record just got more and more fanned, you might say.
Eventually she moved out to Los Angeles with supportive husband and drummer in her band, Bill Willets, and recorded her first cassette album entitled, "Your Company", in 1989. (The band she recorded this album with was called "The Jeannie Willets Band" and also included, on bass, D.C. Pryor.) She took some time out to raise a family and then, again independently, recorded her debut CD, "Anywhere I Go".
Since then, four of her songs have been included on two separate children's albums, one of which was a project for Marvel comics and the other was the #1 selling children's CD of its kind in 2003. In 2004, Jeannie won 2nd Prize in a Singer-Songwriter contest sponsored by Los Angeles Women In Music for her song, "Plans With You”, (from her “Anywhere I Go” CD); and her composition, "That's Christmas", appears on a holiday compilation CD, which was released in 2006.
Jeannie has, also, collaborated with outstanding songwriters, such as, (Nashville-based) Jimmy Borja, well-known for some of his hits by recording artists in the Philippines. "That's When I Think Of You", from her CD, "Anywhere I Go", was also chosen to be included on a compilation disc for the Acoustic Gallery, online, for their "Acoustic Guitar Forum Volume 4" CD.
For over three decades now, L.A.-based singer/songwriter, Jeannie Willets, has shared her music with audiences of all ages, at many well-known L.A. venues, such as, Genghis Kohen, The Derby, and The Coffee Gallery Backstage and will be scheduling a tour promoting her newest release this Fall.
Jeannie's debut CD entitled, "Anywhere I Go", was released in 2005, ("This is a beautiful collection of songs by a singer whose purity of spirit comes across on every track." - Paul Zollo, Reviewer at bluerailroad, an online magazine of the arts), and she is currently finishing up her second CD entitled, "Souls Of Love", which is scheduled for release in November.
(Some selections from Jeannie's up-coming CD, "Souls Of Love", are available to give a listen to in this profile, for a sneak preview.)
Pretty Bird Outside My Window
And yes, those are the same birds in the recording. :)
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1: What artist would you most love to work with?
Wow, there are so many. But probably James Taylor.
2: What instrument brings you the most joy?
3: What was the worst advice?
To get a real job. (Meaning music and art should only be hobbies.)
4: What was your first concert?
There have been so many I don't think I can recall. But it was probably either Elton John or James Taylor.
5: What/where is the best road food?
I just know that NY has the best bagels, pizza, and of course the best "real" NY cheese cake.
6: What’s the best music advice you ever got?
To make lots of friends!
7: Who is your most surprising inspiration?
Rodgers & Hammerstein, along with Gershwin and other Broadway musical composers. Since I was a kid, I always loved musicals and have come to realize, through the years, that songs from musicals are some of the most beautiful and well-written songs I've ever heard.