Jamie Leonhart
Gig Seeker Pro

Jamie Leonhart

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
Band Pop Jazz


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Endless music tastes found on MySpace"

New York's pop/jazz singer extraordinaire Jamie Leonhart entrances with a silky, soulful elegance. Four of the six tracks from her breathtaking EP, "Forward Motion," can be previewed on her MySpace page. Her original numbers are beautifully crafted, offering intoxicating melodies and involving lyrics. Her brother (sic) Michael Leonhart, a prominent trumpeter/arranger, subtly helps make the songs magically magnetic. A touch of blues adds depth to the title track. The resplendent "After The Rain" resonates like a pop classic. "Simple Day" is simply sublime. She transforms the Muppets' "Rainbow Connection" into a cabaret tune that's simultaneously lovely and intriguingly off-kilter, with its darkly carnival-like organ. Leonhart, an amazing talent, hopes to be performing in the Bay Area early in 2007.
- Bay Area (CA) newspapers

"The new age of the chanteuse"

This seems to be a new age of the "chanteuse," from k.d. lang to Norah Jones to Madeleine Peyroux. One of the finest to emerge in the current spate is Jamie Leonhart. Classically trained as a violinist, she brings a rich sense of and appreciation for styles from Tin Pan Alley to cabaret to rock. She's also an exceptionally fine songwriter, drinking from the inspirational fount of Jerome Kern, Cole Porter and Rogers & Hart, writing songs that are wonderful little vignettes, and drawing on the rich song structure and playful lyrical style that marked the best of Tin Pan Alley, including such touches as introductory verses.

Her CD "The Truth about Suffering" was produced and arranged by her husband Michael Leonhart, known for his trumpet work with Steely Dan, and a distinctive singer-songwriter in his own right. The arrangements can be intimate or playful, can evoke cabaret or at times hint at a slightly melancholy circus. Through it all, Ms. Leonhart's warm, charming vocals serve as the glue to hold this wonderful pastiche together.

- George Graham, host WVIA’s “Home Grown”
- WVIA - "home grown" music series

"The Jamie Experience"

We've all heard it: musicians are back. Empty formula is out and real singer/songwriters are taking back the industry (cue India.Arie, Alicia Keyes, Michelle Branch references). Britney is all fine and good, but Mrs. Timberlake has, as of late, become the butt of a few too many jokes and has no Grammy nominations to back up her claim to seriousness. But the resurgence of actual musicians in the music milieu does not stop at the aforementioned ladies. There is a bubbling cauldron of talent aching for your attention just underneath the radar of celebrity, and one if its representatives is New York's own Jamie [Leonhart]. With fourteen years of classical violin training and a literature degree from Barnard, Jamie definitely stands out from the conventional mold. But, as evidenced by the standing-room-only tickets available to any of her shows, she's certainly getting noticed by the local community. Petite and modest, Jamie's approachable demeanor hides powerhouse vocals and some of the most innovative composition of the day. A self-classified pioneer of "chamber pop," Jamie's style and band can only be termed eclectic in today's market of turntables and hard-rockin� electric guitars. Using violin, cello, double bass, percussion and acoustic guitar Jamie interweaves elements of rock, blues, pop and jazz to create a remarkable, unmistakable fusion.
Although still rather new to the scene, this is not Jamie's first taste of the spotlight. Her previous band, Methuselah Jones, released a self-titled album in 1999, which garnered positive reviews. She also won sixth place in the prestigious John Lennon songwriting competition a few years ago for a tune she co-wrote with violinist Antoine Silverman. But in 2002, Jamie is on her own. She finds the musicians for her band, composes her own songs and creates the music, properly defining the phrase "stepping out on a limb." "I cut my teeth with Methuselah Jones and got to know what it's like on stage, with the audience looking and expecting something. That [experience] made me realize that I could do it on my own," explains Jamie.
Now, only weeks away from the release of her independently produced solo album, Area, Jamie is getting the chance to prove to herself and world that the mainstream audience wants to hear more than simplistic, mass marketed confections. "I think the climate is really good for [my music] right now. There've been the angry women, the dirty boys, and the pretty girls who don't do much. They�re entertainers and that's [necessary], too. But I think that now people want and are ready for something new." Her songs certainly don't fit the Z100 stereotype, but that's just how Jamie likes it. "I don't think there has to be a conventional chorus to make a song important or maybe I'm not so concerned with it being the perfect pop song. I don't think you need to say the chorus ten times for [the audience] to get it."
Thankfully, Jamie stalwartly refuses to accept the prevalent attitude about mainstream listeners, which categorizes them in the intellectual level of porcine lunch meat. Rather than railing about Britney and her clones, Jamie is hopeful that people will acknowledge other forms of music. "It's coming around again," says Jamie, "It's another cycle of style and there has to be something new, and why not me? Why not what I'm doing?� Amazingly, she is good-natured enough to respect the current pop environment and its patrons. When pressed about her opinion of Ms. Spears, Jamie considerately remarks, "She's an old school performer. She�s like Gene Kelly. She doesn't write her own songs, but she's a kick-ass performer and she's dedicated to what she does, so you can't really knock it. But there's so much more room for other things that one does not have to be a Britney.
With the release of her album approaching, Jamie's goals are honest. "What I would love is for my album to be picked up [by a major label], to be recognized by someone who would give me money to make me more albums and hopefully not put a lot of restrictions on me." But her ultimate aim is to be heard by as many people as possible without having to sacrifice herself in the process. "I've met execs along the way who hold the apple out to me and have said, "Come on, it's good, and all you have to do is A through Z," relates Jamie. But "at the end of the day," without a trace of regret, Jamie explains, "I chose to reject that and stay true to myself and hope that there will be at least one record industry person who will really believe in what I believe and who will have the gumption to go for it."
Whether this is just a pipe dream or a soon-to-be reality, only time will tell. One think is for sure: in Jamie music has found a welcome reprieve from a growing stagnation. Hopefully, there are enough listeners out there willing to open their minds to this amazing new talent. As Jamie herself calmly says, "Maybe I'm a dreamer." Don't worry Ms. [Leonhart], 'cause thanks to you, dreams have never sounded so sweet.
- Fordham University Observer

"French review of forward motion (2006)"

Quand on lui demande ce qui l'inspire, elle répond Gainsbourg ! Un bon point pour une new-yorkaise non ? Elle.. Elle s'appelle Jamie, Jamie Leonhart et son EP "Forward motion" illustre parfaitement son gout pour l'émotion et pour la bonne musique tout simplement... un univers jazzy-folky-pop arrangé à sa sauce (facon années 50 dit-elle). Jamie nous propose ainsi 6 titres très prometteurs.. au point qu'il ne faut que quelques mesures pour tomber sous le charme de la demoiselle... le charme de sa voix bien sur mais pas seulement.. Ecoutez plutot ! - www.ericnroll.com

"'Forward Motion' propels singer's career"

Jazz vocalist makes first West Coast appearance

By Paul Freeman / Entertainment Writer

Great music pleases the ear in any setting. And New York jazz-soul-pop vocalist Jamie Leonhart is certain to captivate audiences this week at two University of California, San Francisco, locales: the library and Pub Lounge.

The spellbinding Leonhart will sing original tunes for 50 minutes at the noon concert. In addition to songs from her wonderful "Forward Motion" CD, she'll preview material from her upcoming album, due in June.

Leonhart be joined by her husband Michael, who will play the Wurlitzer. Leonhart will chime in on Indian harmonium, toy piano and glockenspiel. The two are not traveling with their bassist and drummer. But Jamie needs little accompaniment to mesmerize a crowd, especially in such an intimate setting.

"I'll exercise my quieter, more contemplative side in the library," she said, and added, "Maybe a little more of the bawdy, ironic side of me will come out in the pub."

During the longer pub set, Leonhart might include reconfigured standards, including songs penned by her inspirations, such as Laura Nyro or Elvis Costello. Michael might pull out his trumpet, an instrument he has played with such luminaries as Lenny Kravitz, Wynton Marsalis, Natalie Merchant, Mos Def and Joshua Redman. He also tours with Steely Dan.

Michael is a remarkably gifted and versatile musician. "Within his own music and as a producer and sideman in more contemporary, less jazz or brass section-oriented things, he has shown himself to be an amazing piano player, and even branches into multi-instrumental stuff, like guitar and bass. He's a vocalist, too," Leonhart said.

She and her husband met when he was playing music with some of her friends. The two subsequently teamed on various projects.

"We realized not only how much we enjoyed working together, but just spending time with each other," she said. And each grew musically through the interaction.

Trained as a classical violinist from age 3, Jamie had eclectic tastes that were expanded by her older siblings.

"My interests weren't genre-based. It came down to - was it good, interesting, thought-provoking?" she said.

Michael came from a jazz background, influenced by his mother Donna, a vocalist, and his father, a bassist.

"I got a lot more education about jazz being with him," Leonhart said, "and he about weird popular or fringe music from me."

While earning an English literature degree at Barnard College of Columbia University, New York, Jamie sang in local clubs and theaters. The first song she co-wrote won a prize in the first International John Lennon Songwriting Contest.

"I write the worst when I'm trying to write something that has rules to it," Leonhart said. "I write the best when I'm just trying to have fun and express and see what comes next ... and then editing will make it listenable."

She recorded with a band called Methuselah Jones, then performed as a soloist with the Metro Mass Gospel Choir at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall.

"I've been singing for a really long time and always had an easy time shifting to whatever vocal quality is needed for each genre," she said. "Hopping from something that requires an emo, no-vibrato, wispy kind of thing to a big R&B kind of thing to more of a jazz feel, it's helped me discover the little places in my voice or my writing that I want to blow up a little more.

"Whenever I'm working on other things, I pay close attention to what it's bringing out in me - maybe something I haven't discovered about myself yet - and see if I can put it authentically into my own writing and singing."

Leonhart's had similar experiences as a vocal coach. "A lot of times, I have these 'Aha!' moments, by witnessing someone else work through a struggle or making a discovery."

Gradually, Jamie has found the right musical direction, blending jazz, pop and cabaret into a style distinctly her own. Now it is just a matter of widening the public's awareness.

"There's such an ability now to get self-released and self-published music all over the Internet. It's wonderful that I have that ... but everyone else has that, too," she says, "So there's still the question of how do I get myself heard by an audience that's receptive, curious and hungry for my music?" She admits, "I'm not totally sure yet."

Her dates at UCSF, her first on the West Coast, are a good start. Leonhart hopes to tour more extensively when the new CD is released.

"What I love about performing is, whatever happens is unexpected and exciting. There's so much room to play with things."

Leonhart says, "I feel like I know more now where I want to go. I feel really connected to the music I'm writing, how I'm performing it and who I'm associating myself with as a performer. It's a really cool, interesting place to be, in this kind of new hybrid of music."
- Palo Alto Daily News

"Rhapsody.com review"

Idiosyncratic singer-songwriters are so much in vogue right now that a free-thinking talent like Jamie Leonhart has a shot at mainstream crossover success. Leonhart's songs can be smart, whimsical or atmospheric, and her strong melodic sense and soulful feel can handle jazzy downtempo or folk-pop (imagine Feist, Laura Nyro and Corinne Bailey Rae on a bicycle built for three). Those who breathe heavily whenever Joanna Newsom strums her harp should note that Leonhart plays both the glockenspiel and the harmonium. - Nick Dedina

"All Music Guide Review of The Truth About Suffering"

Some uninformed individuals who don't know much about jazz will claim that Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones, Nellie McKay, Leslie Feist and Tori Amos are all examples of full-time straight-ahead jazz singers. Not true--all of them are singer/songwriters who have worked primarily in pop-rock (although McKay's appealing live performances of Tin Pan Alley standards in clubs indicate that she is quite capable of singing jazz when she puts her mind to it). However, all of them have been influenced by jazz and/or cabaret and have used them to their artistic advantage, which is exactly what singer/songwriter Jamie Leonhart does on her first full-length album, The Truth About Suffering. This impressive effort is not straight-ahead jazz any more than Mitchell's Court and Spark or Jones' Come Away with Me are straight-ahead jazz; there is a major difference between what Leonhart does and what hardcore jazz vocalists like Kitty Margolis, Vanessa Rubin and Karrin Allyson have done. But there is no denying that jazz, cabaret and traditional pre-rock pop have had a very positive effect on the dusky pop-rock/adult alternative songs that Leonhart offers on this 57-minute CD. Leonhart brings an intriguing variety of influences to the table, ranging from Mitchell, Amos and Jones to Peggy Lee and Kurt Weill. There are, at times, hints of the Beatles on The Truth About Suffering; the Fab Four certainly did a lot to broaden and expand rock when they incorporated elements of cabaret, torch singing and English dance hall music, and Leonhart gives the impression that she is well aware of that fact. Leonhart wrote or co-wrote most of the material, which frequently has a way of being introspective, contemplative, melancholy and dreamy all at once. The Truth About Suffering, which was produced and arranged by her husband Michael Leonhart, is a consistently impressive outing from this New York City-based singer/songwriter. - Alex Henderson

"The Truth About Suffering Review"

Jamie Leonhart
The Truth About Suffering

Jamie Leonhart's soulful voice carries The Truth About Suffering (her debut album), and the title couldn't more apt. The songs here see truthfully into the dark corners of the human spirit. There are no maudlin platitudes to be found on The Truth About Suffering, an album whose songs are lonely, intricate portraits of sadness and regret (yes, even in her cover of "Rainbow Connection"), as opposed to by-the-numbers expressions of knee-jerk angst. You get the impression that whatever Jamie Leonhart is professing here, there's a great deal more that she's not saying, like there's a long-harbored secret under the surface of every song. To maintain such a thing over the course of an album is no less than remarkable, which is exactly what The Truth About Suffering is as an album. - Adam Goran - WYCE Music Journal

"Review: The Truth About Suffering"

There’s been a recent trend in pop music of resurrecting a more evocative and more intellectually creative kind of diva, the likes of which we saw in artists of the early to mid-20th Century, such as Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. Currently, Norah Jones and Feist are the most popular examples of this renewed musical artist, but there are also lesser known names that deserve just as much attention. One of these is Jamie Leonhart, a multi-talented musician from New York City whose debut album The Truth About Suffering shows why modern pop music doesn’t have to be built upon the foundations of hip-hop or rock.

In fact, it’s very reassuring to hear catchy pop tunes with a strong jazz influence. Jamie Leonhart shows that the so-called “old school” way of doing things is not as out of touch as one might assume it is. She crafts songs that are just as catchy as any tune you might hear on the radio, yet they sound much more unique due to the jazz blueprint from which they are crafted. I would also argue that this touch of jazz allows The Truth About Suffering to have a much wider range of creativity than many other pop albums.

The album’s title track is a perfect example of why Jamie Leonhart and her album stand out amongst their contemporaries. It is typical pop in its structure, but the implementation of that structure is unique. The song starts off with very gentle piano playing until it slowly builds towards the peak of the chorus where it adds the beginnings of an orchestra. The brass and woodwind instruments in the background create a more symphonic ambience that in turn produces a more moving listening experience. This wide variety of atypical instrumentation provides a very fresh perspective on the pop format and makes the song that much more engaging in this regard.

In fact, the whole album can be viewed in the terms I previously described: typical pop structure with a unique implementation. The technique varies from song to song. For example, there is a cover of “Rainbow Connection,” which we all remember being sung by Kermit the Frog (I could never figure out how a fake frog could be the voice behind such a great song). Anyway, Jamie Leonhart takes a very innovative approach to the tune. It has a very 60’s vibe to it as well as a semi-psychedelic quality evoked by the waltzy rhythm of the organ mixed with the rattling tambourine and the dreamy brass section. It certainly is an unexpected take on the song, one that I had to listen to a few times before I could admit to liking it due to stubborn devotion to habit. But this song does what a good cover should do in my opinion: it takes a great song that everyone knows and completely reinvents it into a completely different great song.

I highly suggest checking out The Truth About Suffering if you enjoy some variety in your pop music and if you want to support divas with a little more to offer in the talent department. Jamie Leonhart is not only a talented lyricist and a soulful vocalist, but she also plays the glockenspeil, the harmonium, the violin, the drums, and the melodica on this album. Shouldn’t someone like that be a lot more interesting than Paris Hilton? - Radio KRUD Blog

"Glowing review of TTAS in LE MONDE"

The Truth About Suffering

Sauf exception (Diana Krall), il est surtout demandé à la chanteuse de jazz d'aujourd'hui d'être d'abord un peu folk, un peu soul. Presque nouvelle venue - elle est « dans le métier » depuis une dizaine d'années -, Jamie Leonhart relève partiellement de cette catégorie. Mais The Thruth About Suffering, est bien plus expérimentateur, décalé, que la majorité des productions du genre. La voix de son interprète accroche bien au-delà de l'effet destiné à « séduire un large public en évitant d'être trop jazz ». Grâce aux arrangements sophistiqués du pianiste et trompettiste Michael Leonhart avec des vents peu usités (basson, hautbois, clarinettes, cor anglais...), cela donne une oeuvre dont les détails et l'originalité se révèlent d'écoute en écoute. - Le Monde


The Truth About Suffering (Sunnyside Records) (2008)
forward motion (2006)
area (2002)
available on iTunes




"...introspective, contemplative, melancholy and dreamy all at once....a consistently impressive outing from this New York City based singer/songwriter" - ALL MUSIC GUIDE

With her Sunnyside Records debut album, The Truth About Suffering, the sharp-witted chanteuse Jamie Leonhart enters the world of a new kind of diva, dynamic in emotional range and diverse in genre-crossing ability.

Born in New York City, the granddaughter of a cantor, and the youngest of three musically-curious children, Jamie began studying the violin at the age of three and singing soon after. Her inspiration to find her own voice began in her early teen years while singing in a vocal jazz ensemble, and at home foraging through her brother's expansive eclectic record collection. After graduating with a degree in English Literature from Barnard College, Jamie continued her musical journey: through leading a "pop" band, to singing as a soloist in the New York Metro Mass Gospel Choir to performing as a solo artist at prominent New York venues such as Rockwood Music Hall, the Living Room, and Joe's Pub.

Jamie writes about many things: love, vulnerability, perspective, patience, and trust. "These songs talk about the truth -- the truth about being uncomfortable, fitting in or not fitting in, and addressing and sometimes accepting flaws and faults," Leonhart says. "A lot of the tunes explore that: the human condition in its most basic form. The more intimate and specific I am with my lyrics, the more I hear from people that a song really 'spoke to them'-- that I captured the sentiment that they were struggling to put to words, or felt alone in. So something very personal and intimate becomes universal."

The release of The Truth About Suffering announces to the world a new and engaging talent to be reckoned with -- Jamie Leonhart.

Jamie has performed as a soloist from the stages of great New York Institutions including Avery Fisher Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall to intimate venues such as Joe’s Pub and Rockwood Music Hall. Jamie is employed as both a voice actor and vocalist for television and radio (Lifetime, Oxygen, TRESemmé, Neutrogena brand, Bratz brand dolls, etc.) and also works extensively as a background and session singer (Judy Kuhn, Paul Brill, Beatriz Acevedo, the Undisputed Heavyweights and more).

Jamie's music has been featured in a National Network commercial for TRESemme Flawless Curls. The song, "Told You" was released due to popular demand and is available on iTunes.