EllaHarp
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EllaHarp

San Francisco, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2017

San Francisco, California, United States
Established on Jan, 2017
Solo Folk Indie

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"Introducing: EllaHarp – Snowbird"

An instrument like the harp doesn’t exactly inspire imagery of driving bass lines and mainstream appeal, and that’s what San Francisco Bay Area based harpist, singer/songwriter Ella Dawn Jenkins, aka EllaHarp is working to change.

Snowbird is a track of Ellaharp’s debut album Who Asked You Back and it sounds very powerful. I really like the mellow melodies. Besides, the vocal performance is sublime. Furthermore, I also adore the unique atmosphere.

The track is accompanied by an impressive music video, filmed by Cass Cleave.

Speaking about the track, Ellaharp says: ‘Snowbird was one of the last songs I wrote that made the album. I had just found out my old neighbor that lived behind us in the house I grew up in had died. He was kind of a curmudgeon-y asshole as far as I had been concerned, but I was probably a pretty shitty neighbor too as a little kid. He was widowed years before and while he wasn’t his best as I knew him, I’m sure he had lived a long and fascinating life with dreams and aspirations of his own. Reflecting as an adult, I felt guilty having seen him only as the grumpy old man in the red house next door, and wrote this as an introspection on my childhood, time, and his passing. We lived in the mountains of Southern California at the time, in a wild little A frame house on a street called Snowbird Dr.”

Snowbird has all the elements of a modern gem. Be sure to stream it as soon as possible! - Lefuturewave


"Half Moon Bay's Ella Jenkins: Harp that shimmers in a whole new way"

Ella Jenkins, the Half Moon Bay harpist and songwriter whose blues-tinged bass lines and drones depart from the celestial plucks and swirls typically associated with her ancient instrument, became a singer by necessity.

“There were things I wanted to hear, sounds crashing around in my head. For that music to come out, I had to start singing it,” says Jenkins, whose understated, intimate vocals are set off by the rhythmic snap and resonance of her harp strokes.

She’s a graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music in Glasgow, Scotland, where she studied Scottish harp and Gaelic song, freely incorporated other styles into her playing and began writing songs. She plans to sing some of the “blues-, folk- and pop-influenced” numbers off her debut album, “Who Asked You Back,” during a show Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Mirada Art Gallery in Half Moon Bay and Feb. 10 at Sands Studios on Bryant Street in San Francisco.

Jenkins, who studied classical harp as a child in Southern California (she lived in Malibu till she was 16, then the Tejon Pass mountain town of Frazier Park in Kern County), appreciated the beauty of the instrument in its dreamy and heavenly modes. But she wanted to go a different route, “looking at the instrument from a songwriting perspective,” she says, “approaching it more like a guitar than how it’s traditionally used.”

Jenkins, 29, has good musical genes. Daughter of the very musical Chronicle sports columnist Bruce Jenkins and his former wife, Dawn, she is the granddaughter of three noted musicians: Bruce’s father, the celebrated arranger and composer Gordon Jenkins; Bruce’s mother, the fine singer Beverly Mahr; and Dawn’s father, the versatile reed player and bandleader Bill Ulyate.

“I never got to know any of my grandparental musical influences,” says Jenkins, but she grew up listening to their records.

Jenkins plays a one-of-a-kind foldable harp. She designed the aluminum-framed instrument with her boyfriend, metalsmith Zachary Schultz, who fabricated it.

“It was designed to fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane,” the harpist explains. Rather than the usual 30 strings, hers has 29. She tends not use the upper octave anyway, “so we ditched the high A string,” Jenkins says.

She was initially concerned about the tone quality of an instrument with an aluminum box. The wood-framed harp has a warmer, richer sound, but she’s come to love the cooler sound of this one, which is “bright and clear, with a kind of bell-like ring. It’s a much larger sound than you’d expect. The resonance is lovely.”

For more information, go to https://ellaharp.com. - San Francisco Chronicle


"EllaHarp enchants with new wintery release ‘SnowBird’"

Angelic vocals, hauntingly beautiful melodies and undulating, perfectly plucked harp hang together in EllaHarps latest single, ‘SnowBird’.

The San Fran based Harpist and singer songwriter, Ella Dawn Jenkins, aka EllaHarp is working to change the existing stereotype surrounding classical harpists hailing before her. This artist experiments with contemporary blues & pop and creates her sound using an instrument designer entirely by herself.

Combining her fresh musical take, her unique instrument and her lineage of composer and arranger Gordon Jenkins she sets out on her mission, pushing the harp out of type-cast genre constraints. She is certainly doing things her own way and her music echoes her creativity, drive and passion.

Watch the video for ‘SnowBird’ below; reflective, simple and filled with a reminiscent air of days gone by. - Purple Melon


"EllaHarp’s Crazy Blues Harp Skills (and it’s not what you think)"

When you’re in the mood for some low-down, toe-tapping blues with a solid walking bass line, I’ll bet the first instrument that comes to mind isn’t a harp. EllaHarp a.k.a. Ella Dawn Jenkins, is about to change that. She’s a San Francisco based singer-songwriter and blues harpist extraordinaire. And by “blues harpist,” I don’t mean Paul Butterfield or Sonny Boy Williamson. I mean that ancient instrument you might hear on a new age recording. On “It Ain’t Working,” EllaHarp’s supple, seductive voice slithers its way through and around her exquisite mad harp skills to brew up some serious voodoo magic.

If you think that glorious instrument is unlike any angelic and pristine harp you’ve ever come across, you’d be right. She designed it specifically for the purpose of bringing the music in her head and heart to life. In so doing, she’s pushed the medieval, stately harp into places it has never been before — to stunning effect.

Since independently releasing her debut album, Who Asked You Back just last year, EllaHarp has performed more than 100 live shows, including Bay Area festivals and radio, The Bitter End in New York City and an opening spot for Grammy Award singer Mye at Music Box in San Diego.

This amazing debut album is the culmination of 10 years of songwriting both in Scotland and Los Angeles. You can stream her album on Spotify or Bandcamp. - Boston Survival Guide


"Plucky Gal"

Celestial and elegant, attached to an angel’s hip, the harp is an instrument of the ether.

Until Ella Dawn Jenkins brings it right back down to earth.

The Bay Area harpist, who prefers the name EllaHarp, or just Ella, did Debussy and the rest of the standard harp canon, playing at countless weddings, before she decided to forgo classical and embrace a more “folksy, bluesy, pop” sound.

“It’s not what you’re expecting,” Ella said.

She sings, too. The resulting plucks paired with her low-key voice sound more like a singer-songwriter strumming on a guitar, but with a harp-y heavenly tinge. Ella, who released her 10-years-in-the-making debut album Who Asked You Back in February, will play a concert on Saturday, Aug. 11, at Ojai Underground Exchange.

Ella herself is a down-to-earth person.

She makes all her own clothes, until recently lived in a tiny house she built herself, and plays an aluminum-frame harp that she and her boyfriend designed so she could travel with it more easily.

Ella, who grew up in Malibu and Frazier Park, comes from strong musical stock: Her paternal grandparents were composer-arranger Gordon Jenkins and singer Beverly Mahr; her maternal grandfather was saxophonist Bill Ulyate.

Ella, who started playing harp at age 8, said she wishes she had “a better story” for why it became her instrument, “but basically, my mom chose it,” Ella said. “She was looking through a catalog and thought it was cute. It was cheaply made, nothing more than a toy, and she wanted us to be exposed to different instruments.”

She also learned to play piano, but said she preferred the harp because “It’s just more pleasant. To have it resting on you, and the vibrations going throughout your body, it’s such a healing instrument to play.”

Ella has traveled many miles to learn how to play the harp. When she first started taking lessons, her mom drove Ella more than 100 miles each week to her teacher. As a teenager she went abroad to study the instrument in a less traditional way at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) in Glasgow.

“I realized I learned music best by ear,” Ella said, “and in traditional Scottish music, everything is taught by ear.”

Ella studied both harp and song in college. “Who Asked You Back,” she said, “is the culmination of 10 years of songwriting in Scotland and California: a little bluesy, a little sassy and mostly miserable.”

Until recently, Ella and her boyfriend lived in a DIY tiny house. Ella said that she built the tiny house (which she refers to affectionately by female pronouns) after graduating from college “to be a musician and not die from rent.”

She dubbed the 120-square-foot house “Little Yellow” because of its bright yellow door.

She and her boyfriend lived together in it, with a dog, for five years until October, when they put a down payment on a big(ger) house in Half Moon Bay, and now rent out the tiny house. She’s even worked as a presenter for the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.

“I built my tiny house to make my life easier, and for many years she did exactly that,” Ella wrote on her blog, littleyellowdoor.wordpress.com. “At some point when I quit my ‘day job’ and my home also became my workspace, and my workspace suddenly involved a bunch more harps and a sewing machine and hundreds of yards of fabric and the need for office space and reliable Internet, this gradually became less and less the case.”

Ella, who has always been crafty, started making her own clothing and jewelry in 2015.

Her sewing process is similar to her approach to songwriting and playing music: “I don’t use patterns. I make things up as I go.”

Ella said she has never performed in Ojai, but visited the area many times while growing up.

“We used to drive down there on [Highway] 33 for special occasions like birthdays, and get dinner at Boccali’s,” she said.

She’s looking forward to returning.

“I just want to see any water in the Sespe and put my toes in it,” she said.

So she’s down to earth and water.

EllaHarp performs on Saturday, Aug. 11, at 7:30 p.m. at Ojai Underground Exchange, 1016 W. Ojai Ave., Ojai. For tickets and more information, call 805-340-7893 or visit www.ojaiartsexchange.com. - Ventura Country Reporter


"2018 Indie Albums You Should Hear with EllaHarp, Roam Like Ghosts and The Iron Sailor Project"

EllaHarp – Who Asked You Back
San Francisco Bay Area musician EllaHarp‘s remarkable debut album, Who Asked You Back, reveals a genuine and talented young artist with her own unique style and brand.

When it comes to one-of-a-kind musicians, Harp – whose actual name is Ella Jenkins – makes that list, even in the famously creative, multicultural, and individualistic culture of the Bay Area.

After listening to this album again and again over the course of many weeks (the only way to truly become familiar with a piece of art), we are convinced indie music lovers, or anyone who enjoys music, will appreciate Jenkins’ music as much as we do.

She says of the album: “Got your ‘screw you’ songs, your creepy stolen baby songs, and sometimes, I play an unremarkable banjo.”

As far as we can remember, there has never been an artist who has taken the harp and re-imagined it in such a refreshing and dynamic way.

Not only does the Royal Academy-educated and trained Jenkins master the harp, but she also has written and recorded a collection of exceptional songs on her not-to-miss debut release.

And yet just as compelling is Jenkins’ voice. She can sing almost angelically at times; take songs like her latest single, “Who Asked You Back,” with its terrific hook, and then flip and sing straight blues, with the harp front and center on other tracks like the mysterious, “Dirty Money.”

The bluesy, even folksy, riff-driven track features “a hint of creepy, stolen baby mythology,” Jenkins writes. Plus, she had electric guitar contributions from alt. rock band Smash Mouth’s Sam Eigen.

The common theme that runs throughout Who Asked You Back album is the pain and heartache of love, relationships, and break-ups.

Take the angst-ridden, bluesy song, “It Ain’t Working,” where the lyrics combined with Jenkins’ convincing and stern vocals, not to mention her amazing instrumentation, make it a standout song on the album.

There is also the whimsical, but sad, “The Widow of Glasgow Green,” the story of a woman living in Glasgow whose had a life of hard times. Jenkins beautifully expresses and channels this pain in her vocal arrangement in particular.

Many folks will relate. But that’s not even necessary because the music, fueled by Jenkins’ unique talents, emotes the pain effectively. And still, it sounds so right. Don’t miss songs like the descending notes of “Time” and the introspective, “Changeling.”

A key reason for the success of Jenkins’ release is her amazing harp. A significant person in her life helped her craft an aluminum custom-made harp (she also built her own tiny house) in order to achieve the exact sound she wanted.

But of course, the main reason for Jenkins’ success is her all-around talents and skills as a songwriter and musician. We can only expect her to keep getting better.

Jenkins regular performs as EllaHarp in the Bay Area and the west coast. Check her official EllaHarp website for more information. - Indie Rock Cafe


"Local artist spotlight: EllaHarp"

Half Moon Bay harpist and songwriter EllaHarp is set to release her debut album Who Asked You Back, an album that she describes as a fresh take on the harp with a compilation of bluesy, riff-based kickers and a hint of creepy, stolen baby mythology.

She’ll be hosting a couple of record release parties in February to coincide with the release (see dates below). Leading up to the events, she took some time out of her schedule to talk to Music in SF™ about the new release, when her interest in music first began and what her favorite place to eat is in San Francisco.

How’d you come up with the band name?

Well, my name is Ella and I play the harp, so pretty unoriginal I guess!

How would you describe your sound?

My songwriting is influenced by blues, folk, and pop. I spent 4 years in (very rainy) Scotland studying traditional Scottish music and the Scottish Gaelic language, which has formed the base for a lot of my songs. In the end, it sort of melds hints of traditional music with bluesy riffs and melodies in a style that’s not usually associated with having anything to do with the harp.

When did you first become interested in playing music?

I started piano lessons when I was 7, but switched to harp when I was 8.

What’s the funniest that’s ever happened to you at a show?

I showed up to play at Simple Pleasure‘s Cafe on Balboa recently with no extra strings to find 3 of them broken 20 minutes before I was on. A small dose of panic and a quick google search led to hyper-speed bolting down the street 3 blocks to the tiny violin store that closed in 10 minutes for a set of nylon guitar strings I didn’t really expect to work. They were the exact gauge for each broken string and I never replaced them, they’re still on that harp.

Where do you like to hang out most in the city?

I sew all my clothing, so I like to go to Union Square and drool over Britex Fabrics’ frighteningly overpriced textiles. Sometimes I buy a singular button.

What’s your favorite place to eat in the Bay Area?

Chez Maman on 18th, or Basil Thai on Folsom.

What do you say to people who think that the music scene in the Bay Area is dead?

That they aren’t paying enough attention! There’s great music going on all the time, and I feel like San Fran has a great community of musicians that also help each other out, and that’s all I, at least could ask for in a music scene.

If you could put your own version of a supergroup, who would be in it and why?

Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn because, holy cello and banjo. KT Tunstall because she rocks, and Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites because I love their songwriting.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?

Not directly about me, but my grandfather, Gordon Jenkins wrote the song ‘Crescent City Blues’ which Johnny Cash shamelessly ripped off for his hit song ‘Folsom Prison Blues’.

Is there anything you’d like to plug?

I’m releasing my debut album, Who Asked You Back on Feb. 3, 2018. I’ll be having a release party and concert at Sand Studios Shop, 449 Bryant st Feb. 10 from 6-10 p.m. Music is from 7-9 p.m. with performances by Cassie Levy and Ali Oswalt in addition to myself. Tickets are by donation at door. - Music in SF


"Local Harpist Releases new CD"

Thursday nights are when you’ll find her, plucking her harp strings as harried humans hurry into the grocery store in search of that night’s dinner.

Ella Jenkins, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Scottish Music from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, Scotland, often sets up shop outside of New Leaf Community Market in Half Moon Bay. It’s a practice she developed while studying in abroad.

“To help pay for food and rent, I’d play outside on the main streets in some of the nicer parts of Glasgow,” Jenkins said. “It was a pretty normal thing to do.
“Everybody is busking, and that’s the way it goes,” she continued. “It led to a bunch of gigs.”

Busking refers to the practice of playing music or performing for donations in the streets or other public places. Once her feet were firmly planted in Half Moon Bay, Jenkins set out to find a place to continue her Scottish tradition.

“New Leaf is a really special place,” said Jenkins. “I get to talk to cool people. I get to connect to the music. It’s purely for the fun and networking of it.

“It’s my weekly therapy because I get to play some music,” she continued. “We don’t often play it just for the love of it. It’s a nice way to chill out.”

Jenkins’ unique approach to playing the harp has pulled the heartstrings of music patrons. Every once in a while, someone will see Jenkins playing and book her for a gig. “I had a cool experience over the holidays,” she recalled. “I was playing outside and was asked to play at a holiday party.”

Jenkins describes her style as breakup music. Her song “Snow Bird” was written about a childhood neighbor who died. She’s also penned an instrumental that was written on the day of the Orlando. Fla., nightclub shooting. All of these tunes and more can be found on her debut album titled, “Who Asked You Back.”

“The harp is such a typecast instrument,” said Jenkins. “I think it’s really much more versatile than people give it credit for. In ‘Who Asked You Back,’ I really tried to give the harp a different angle.

“It takes you in a particular direction,” she continued. “It was really important to have (the album) go somewhere.”

The album is full of surprises, offering up a unique take chock full of bluesy, riff-based kickers as well as a hint of creepy, stolen baby mythology. Smash Mouth’s electric guitar player Sam Eigen dropped in to collaborate on a few tracks.

“Who Asked You Back” will drop on Saturday. A release party will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday at 337 Mirada ART Gallery, 337 Mirada Road in Half Moon Bay.

For more information on Jenkins visit ellaharp.com. - Half Moon Bay Review


"Live Music Calendar for New York City and Brooklyn for November and December 2018"

11/8. 7 PM intriguing songwriter Ella Dawn Jenkins, aka EllaHarp – a concert harpist who sings and plays stark, rustic original fingerstyle blues and Gaelic-influenced songs – at the Bitter End, $10 - New York Music Daily


"EllaHarp’s Crazy Blues Harp Skills (and it’s not what you think)"

When you’re in the mood for some low-down, toe-tapping blues with a solid walking bass line, I’ll bet the first instrument that comes to mind isn’t a harp. EllaHarp a.k.a. Ella Dawn Jenkins, is about to change that. She’s a San Francisco based singer-songwriter and blues harpist extraordinaire. And by “blues harpist,” I don’t mean Paul Butterfield or Sonny Boy Williamson. I mean that ancient instrument you might hear on a new age recording. On “It Ain’t Working,” EllaHarp’s supple, seductive voice slithers its way through and around her exquisite mad harp skills to brew up some serious voodoo magic.

If you think that glorious instrument is unlike any angelic and pristine harp you’ve ever come across, you’d be right. She designed it specifically for the purpose of bringing the music in her head and heart to life. In so doing, she’s pushed the medieval, stately harp into places it has never been before — to stunning effect.

Since independently releasing her debut album, Who Asked You Back just last year, EllaHarp has performed more than 100 live shows, including Bay Area festivals and radio, The Bitter End in New York City and an opening spot for Grammy Award singer Mye at Music Box in San Diego.

This amazing debut album is the culmination of 10 years of songwriting both in Scotland and Los Angeles. You can stream her album on Spotify or Bandcamp. - Musings from Boston


"EllaHarp – “Screaming Into the Void”"

Hailing from the San Francisco Bay, singer/songwriter Ella Dawn Jenkins creates melodic folk-pop via the project EllaHarp. Jenkins takes pride in a DIY approach, handling songwriting and production duties — in addition to designing her own harp, clothing, and jewelry. The first single from EllaHarp’s sophomore album of the same name, “Screaming Into the Void” is a great introduction to the artist’s lushly melodic sound. Minimalist click-laden percussion accompanies a serene harp sound and Jenkins’ calming vocals. Following up her debut album Who Asked You Back, which reached #4 and #2 on Roots Music Reporter Top 50 Folk and Top 50 Contemporary Folk Album Charts, EllaHarp seems likely to continue the momentum with sophomore album Screaming Into the Void.



“Screaming Into the Void” and other memorable tracks from this month can also be streamed on the updating Obscure Sound’s ‘Best of February 2020’ Spotify playlist. - Obscure Sound


"EllaHarp – “Screaming Into the Void”"

EllaHarp is the project of San Francisco-based singer-songwriter Ella Dawn Jenkins. The singer is also a talented harp player who combines the two forces to create an artful pop genre that is almost its own entity entirely. Not only does she write all her songs but she self-produces, as well as designing her own harp.

She’s preparing the release of her sophomore album Screaming Into The Void for later this year and has given fans a preview of it with the release of the first single and title track, “Screaming Into the Void.”

It’s a lush and pretty journey that showcases her ability to morph her melodies around her harp, using it and her voice to create a hypnotic journey that is every bit as soothing as you’d imagine.

Here’s a bit about the track from EllaHarp herself:

“Screaming Into The Void” was written in a moment of frustration about releasing music in the digital age. In many ways it’s easier than ever to make a splash, but amidst the overwhelming quantity of music coming out on any given day it can feel a lot like you’re making literally no difference whatsoever.

Enjoy a listen to “Screaming Into the Void” below and grab the track for your own price at her Bandcamp. - We All Want Someone To Shout For


Discography

'Who Asked You Back' independently/self released 2.3.18
All songs written by Ella Dawn Jenkins/EllaHarp (vocals and harp) Copyright 2018

Sophomore album 'Screaming Into the Void' to be released Fall 2020

Photos

Bio

An instrument like the harp doesn’t exactly inspire imagery of driving bass lines and mainstream appeal, and that’s what San Francisco Bay Area based harpist, singer songwriter Ella Dawn Jenkins, aka EllaHarp is working to change.

Armed with a fresh take on contemporary blues, the musical lineage of composer/arranger Gordon Jenkins, and a unique instrument she designed for the purpose, EllaHarp is pushing the harp out of type-cast genre constraints and doing things differently.

Her independently released debut album ‘Who Asked You Back’ received airplay on over 85 radio stations nationally and internationally, and reached #4 and #2 on Roots Music Reporter Top 50 Folk and Top 50 Contemporary Folk Album Charts.

Since releasing her 2018 album, EllaHarp has toured 7 states and a province with over 150 live performances, from Bay Area festivals (most recently Noise Pop 2020) to Irish pubs in Honolulu to ‘The Bitter End’ in NYC to opening for Grammy winning singer Mya in San Diego and showcasing at Canadian Music Week 2019 in Toronto.


Band Members