Jennie DeVoe
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Jennie DeVoe

Noblesville, Indiana, United States | INDIE

Noblesville, Indiana, United States | INDIE
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"Jennie DeVoe at Eddie's Attic"

On a rainy night in Georgia I walked into a quaint little place in Decatur, GA called Eddie’s Attic. The Loft in Columbus, GA was actually modeled after Eddie’s Attic. The name may also sound familiar as many talented artists have performed here.

Tonight, the room overflowed with talent as the Indianapolis-based Jennie DeVoe band performed in front of a packed house. Jennie was accompanied by her guitarist, Brett Lodde, bass player, Jeff Stone, drummer, John Whittman, and keyboard player, Greg McGuirk, who practically sat in the crowd. Yes, it was standing-room only, unless you were fortunate to have grabbed a seat early. There was also backup singer, Nicole Proctor, former opera singer turned rock chick. The band was tight and filled the room with its bluesy rhythm and cool vibe with a funky edge.

Singer/Songwriter, Jennie DeVoe mesmerized the audience with her captivating smile, laid-back style, and groovy lyrics. Yes, I just said “groovy.” Seriously, if you’ve heard Jennie before, you know what I mean. And if you’ve seen Jennie before you will immediately recognize her crazy, curly locks of hair that sits high upon her head. Often compared to the flower child of the 60’s, Jennie does have a personal style that reflects that era, especially with songs like “My Sister the Hippie.”

If experience creates great lyrics and songs, then Jennie DeVoe displays experience well beyond her years. Bluesy songs like “Butterfly,” “I Break Down,” and “Should’ve Stayed” display Jennie’s powerful vocals and soulful sounds. “Don’t It Sound Good” creates images of driving across the countryside with the top down, and not looking back. “Try Harder” has an Indie rock sound with nice guitar work.

Jennie has an awesome stage presence, great sense of humor, and honesty in her music that speaks to you. Her soulful lyrics are full of emotion that knocks on your hearts door, walks right in, and makes you feel. As I looked around the room, I could see that each and every person was intently watching, listening, and enjoying this moment in time. Everyone in the room felt a connection. One couldn’t help but to be drawn in.

This larger than life, dynamite in small package performer will win you over quickly as she has with so many. Speaking of which, I must include that at least a quarter of the house was from Indianapolis. When I mentioned this to Jennie after the show, she exclaimed, “They could see me there!” She couldn’t believe so many people flew and drove down to Atlanta to see her. As a matter of fact, Jennie has several upcoming shows, as early as next month, in Indiana.

That’s a testament to this talented little lady with a big heart, and powerful voice. If Jennie DeVoe is playing close by or far away, it’s worth the trip to see her and witness greatness. - Playgrounds Magazine


"Soul Tracks Review: Strange Sunshine"

Jennie DeVoe - Strange Sunshine

Jennie DeVoe draws a lot of comparisons to Janis Joplin, and in one sense it's easy to see why. DeVoe, like Joplin, is a white female singer who can sing soul and blues with the kind of grit and passion that usually finds its roots in the black church. She can also rock and add a little country and western to the mix. However, DeVoe has a big, expansive voice that can go from a Joplin-esque, throaty raspyness in one note to explosive heights with the next. That range and power brings to mind a bluesy, funky rocker who could be considered a DeVoe contemporary - Alice Smith.
Like Smith, DeVoe is a singer who is not content to be bound by the limits of genre. Her willingness to take the listener on a ride from the neo-psychedelic title track "Strange Sunshine" to the bluesy declaration of female independence "No Damn Man," the funky "Exit 229," the rollicking rocker "Foolproof," and the bluegrass influenced "Blind Faith" is among Strange Sunshine's endearing qualities.

However, Strange Sunshine has other virtues. First of all, Strange Sunshine is a record for listeners who love good lyrics. DeVoe wrote or co-wrote every song except the fun "Fool Proof," and her songwriting captures the wittiness, world weariness, hope and simple brilliance that is blues music at its best.

Take this snippet from the jazzy "Nobody Loves You": "Got my suspicions/they could be true/I tried to be the color that you like/but now I'm blue." It also seems that DeVoe took as much care in selecting her sidemen as she did in writing her lyrics. Simply stated, the musicianship on this record is excellent. That should go without saying except it doesn't. We've gotten so used to programmed music that the ears perk up upon hearing folks who know how to do some work with their axes.

The star of this show is DeVoe's vocal instrument. It's not just her range and power that impresses. DeVoe sings with an honesty that makes the listener believe she is baring her soul on every track. DeVoe is every bit as believable on the female anthem "No Damn Man" as she is on the torch song "I Break Down." She'll make you a believer as well. Highly Recommended.

Howard Dukes - Soul Tracks


"Jennie DeVoe at The Sanctuary"

DeVoe's voice is a delicious mix of scratchy blues and sweet low notes. Her music is born of a unique marriage of folk and funk. She sprinkles in rhythm and blues sounds and a few well-chosen covers to create a great live show. She also manages to draw the audience in with her anecdotes and personal stories between each song. It's hard to attend one of DeVoe's shows and not feel like she's your personal friend by the end of the night. This rare evening was no exception. As the night grew later, DeVoe became indistinguishable from her music. She flowed from one number to the next, weaving crowd favorites with songs she'd never performed outside the studio. Her lyrics are carved from her own experiences, and those who visited The Sanctuary reaped the benefits of her rich life and talented career. With her wild mane and sultry sound, DeVoe always provides her audience with an irresistibly good time. -Melissa Mayer - The Boone County Sun


"CD reviews: DeVoe's voice, presentation star on 'Sunshine'"

'STRANGE SUNSHINE'
Jennie DeVoe (Rubin the Cat)

Jennie DeVoe has a voice and a style that is mindful of Janis Joplin's, but maybe with better quality. "Strange Sunshine" is a good blend of Joplin-esque blues, jazz and even a hint of the Beatles. A variety of sounds stand out on this album. The Hammond B3 of Greg McGuirk drives "Foolproof." Some gentle backup vocals haunt "No Damn Man" and "Exit 229." An arrangement behind the title song sounds like Sgt. Pepper on a trip to the States. Paul Holdman's guitars stand out on every song. But the best part of the album is DeVoe's voice and her presentation of this collection of all originals. Her voice is deep and has a bit of roughness to it, but is disciplined and controlled. She can tell gloomy stories on "Blind Faith" and "All This Love" without ever sinking into self-pity. - Bob Karlovits, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW


"Fireworks & Karate Supplies: Review"

One of the best albums of the year by any artist, Fireworks & Karate Supplies is a career-defining record for Jennie DeVoe, a remarkable talent. Having been privileged enough to experience Jennie's live shows and witness her audible evolution over the last six years, I am floored by this effort. Jennie is a truly unique vocal talent. I sit dumbfounded at the artistic actualization she's managed to get down on record. The brevity she possesses within her languid, raspy performance is risky, but all the while it seems a natural progression in all its sexy, bluesy, truthful bliss. Her powerhouse voice can stop you in your tracks but it also possesses a sweetness that surges and sears the soul. -Heidi Drockelman - Indie-Music.com


"Indiana Album: Jennie DeVoe "Strange Sunshine""

There is a mystery solved upon hearing the new album “Strange Sunshine” from Indianapolis’ Jennie Devoe. From the title cut’s “Strawberry Fields Forever” echoes of the opener to the weary-but-powerful “All This Love” that closes Devoe’s new album, she takes leaps of tempo and the occasional genre, but never loses the listener. We take the trip – and do because her voice is so damn expressive. Makes you want to hold her hand and just listen to her sing.

It is the voice – the soulful, raspy, yet sing-like-a-bird voice – which Devoe and producer John Parish (Tracy Chapman, PJ Harvey, and Devoe’s 2004 album “Fireworks and Karate Supplies”) smartly push up in the mix. She’s a tough. She’s introspective. She’s tells her version on the truth.

They fill the remaining space (but not all of it – this isn’t a too-much-is-better record) with grooves that rock, gospel where necessary and some dirty blues.

Devoe and Parish have succeeded in creating a record that touches on influences, but never falls completely into what I call the “Lenny Kravitz Abyss”. That’s when an artist makes a pretty good record but listeners can’t stop hearing the songs and artists that were the main influences for the album. Early Lenny records were really pretty good, but so derivative it hurt him, at least until his third or fourth record and we realized “Oh. OK. That’s Lenny”.

But “Strange Sunshine” plays it right, giving us familiar notes and chords and ooh’s and aah’s that hit the gut, reminding us of how the best music is made – honoring the past while pushing sounds forward. The mix of Jennie’s soul and voice blends with music bubbling with an undercurrent of an unpretentious musical history.

Drummer John Wittman rides Ringo-solid with more swing, while Greg McQuirk’s Hammond B3 , Wurlitzer and piano playing is a constant thrill. His interplay with the guitars of Paul Holdman and Parish dives into the musical white space and subtly colors it with sounds of confidence and flexibilty. Church sounds. Stax sounds. Motown sounds.

The bass-and-drums of “Exit 229″ make you want to swing your hips, as background “whoo-whoo’s” and handclaps support Devoe’s tale of the good that can come from driving all night. “Butterfly” (the first single) is slice of AAA/Americana pop that has Jennie gradually pushing her voice harder, and grabbing the song’s great sugary hook when it hits the chorus.

“Nobody Love You” is a retro lounge sound, circa 1940, all piano and Amy Winehouse, minus the sloppiness, heroin and makeup. It fades into the blues of “Shoulda Stayed” and the stark acoustic guitar and Hammond B3 opening of the hymn “I Break Down”. It burns. Amen.

Devoe wrote or co-wrote all but one of the songs on the album, with the Etheridge-like “Foolproof” contributed by another strong female artist, blues and rock guitarist Shannon Curfman.

Sure, I want to like music that is made locally (even if they went to Bath, England to record the record, like Devoe did for this one). And yeah, I have been fooled by a record and the first couple listens I take.

There is no fooling on “Strange Sunshine” – Jennie Devoe has made her best record ever. No mystery why. It is smart and playful, the past mixing with the now, the dirt grandly mixing with the shiny. And it is the sound of Devoe’s voice that makes it all come together.
- Rob Nichols, Rockforward Blog


"Blues Revue: 'Strange Sunshine' Review"

An American soul singer traveling to the U.K. for production assistance is an unusual reversal of the classic process. Usually, British singers, heavily influence by U.S. blues and R&B, trek across the pond to get a healthy dose of that authentic, dusky mojo to inject into their sound. Just ask Dusty Springfield.<br><br>

But Indianapolis-based Jennie DeVoe was so pleased with the results when noted English producer John Parish worked on her previous project, 2004's Fireworks and Karate Supplies, that she and her band flew to Bath to repeat the experience. Parish, best known for his work with U.K. thrush PJ Harvey, doesn't make the rootsy DeVoe sound any less American. Rather, he lets her loose to do her husky, brassy, wailing while adding subtle Beatles-esque touches such as the "Strawberry Fields Forever" keyboards that lead off this album's opening track and float under the surface of the torchy "Butterfly."<br><br>

DeVoe wrote or co-wrote 11 of the dozen tracks. Between the slinky blues of "Shoulda Stayed," with its swamp guitar stank, and the lowdown R&B of "I Break Down," it's clear that blues is an overwhelming influence on DeVoe's material. Parish wisely mixes DeVoe's powerful voice--think a less commercial Joss Stone combined with Rickie Lee Jones--up front, with ever-present keyboards and strumming acoustic guitars hovering in the background. DeVoe doesn't need much accompaniment to electrify, as on the spare-percussion, picked guitar jazz scat of the scorching "Healer."<br><br>

Just her sensual vocals slathering over the words "Call me a doctor/'cause baby I need a fix" will transfix the listener. With all her confidence and sexuality, she's nobody's little girl, as she declares with the defiance and boldness on "No Damn Man" of someone who's been through the wringer of love and emerged smarter and tougher. Between Parish's musical edge and DeVoe's melodic, gutsy songwriting--both pushed by a vibrant, multi-hued voice that can shift from a catlike purr to a gospel wail and a snarling rasp within seconds--this under-the-radar singer has the talent to be a major force on either side of the Atlantic.<br><br>
HAL HOROWITZ - BLUES REVUE MAGAZINE (APR/MAY 2010) - Blues Revue magazine


"The People's Choice: Jennie DeVoe"

Jennie Devoe wins Best Local Musician in our annual Best Of
by Wade Coggeshall, July 29, 2009

FAN FAVORITES: Local music
Best local musician/group: Jennie DeVoe
Wade Coggeshall reports this week that roots chanteuse Jennie DeVoe proudly displays her previous NUVO Best Of awards on the wall of her office, a whole rack of them honoring her for her accomplishments in folk, rock and overall local talent. This year, readers didn't discriminate between genres, even though DeVoe could fall under blues, country, folk, rock and soul. You voted her the best local musician in town, period. So go pick up her fourth studio album, Strange Sunshine, released this month and recorded in Bath, England, with longtime P.J. Harvey collaborator John Parish on the board.

ARTICLE:

Hi Jennie,
[We] heard about your success in Indianapolis, and would like to check out your music! Please let [us] know how to proceed.

Thanks,
--Universal Records


Jennie DeVoe gets correspondence like this all the time. She finds it quite flattering. Just not enough to turn ownership of her music career over to someone else.

"I don't think I thought I ever was going to be the next big thing," she says. "My instincts told me I'd get lost in the shuffle."

At least in her adopted hometown, DeVoe, a guitarist and singer-songwriter, has steadily built a cult following behind her smoky sweet voice and folk-blues tenderness. So much so that locals attend her shows in other parts, such as a recent Atlanta gig. Nationally, DeVoe has opened for such luminaries as Sting, Bonnie Raitt and John Hiatt. Her song "How I Feel" was voted Best Pop Song over thousands of entries in a 2004 Billboard Magazine poll. Her music has been featured on network television shows including Dawson's Creek and Joan of Arcadia.

"She just has a very endearing quality," says Brad Holtz, program director for local radio station 92.3 WTTS, which has long championed DeVoe and her music. "There's a lot of local musicians, but we've felt she's just touched so many. Between the sheer amount of albums she's sold and the support she gets at concerts, you can tell there's a genuine connection between her and her fans."

All this has been accomplished, DeVoe says, without "the machine" backing her.

"I think I'm a slow mover," says DeVoe as a way of explaining why, more than 10 years and four studio albums in, she has yet to sign a record deal. "I love music so much I don't want to hate it. And I don't want to hate my life either. I like to have a real life as I'm doing this. Time passes really quickly, and you could wake up and have lost it all. I know people who have. We all do.

"I'm not willing to sacrifice everything to be Super Duper Girl. I think the next big thing is always going to be the hardest thing to be. There are too many people out there to compete with."

Hi Jennie,
This is Oh Boy Records in Nashville, TN. [We were] going through some albums here in the office and came across some of your records, and after taking a listen [we're] pretty impressed (to say the least). [We] did a little research and saw that you're managing your own record label -- still, [we were] wondering if you were planning on coming in or around the Nashville area anytime in the near future? [We] would love to see your live performance.


My first meeting with DeVoe doesn't quite go as planned. The locally owned coffee shop we agreed to meet at in the western suburbs has quietly gone out of business. Instead we settle on one of those corporate, cookie-cutter bistros. ("It's OK," DeVoe assures me. "They give their employees good benefits.").

Indeed, DeVoe is comfortable and sanguine throughout the hour-plus conversation. She's wearing jeans, a blue sweatshirt and flip-flops on a rainy spring morning (still early for her). Other than maybe a tiny gold nose ring, the only thing about DeVoe's mien that may deviate from the typical conception of a Hoosier is her bouffant blond hair.

Her youth in Muncie was archetypal. Her ascent into music as a career, not as much. DeVoe's parents both sang in a church choir. Both play piano. But one of DeVoe's most cogent impressions is of her father's sense of humor. She recalls some of the daffy songs he used to sing to her.

"Early in the morning in the middle of the night, two dead boys began to fight. A deaf policeman heard the noise and he beat the life out of two dead boys," goes one.

Another: "There was a young farmer who took a young miss to the back of the barnyard and gave her a … lecture on horses, chickens and eggs and told her she had such beautiful … manners that suited a girl of her charms."

Writing, however, was DeVoe's first passion. She always fancied herself an author first (still does, once she lives a little and actually has something to write about). She thought she could sing from an early age, but was too shy initially to do much with it. DeVoe ended up singing in her church's adult choir only because her mother did. They would've had to get a babysitter otherwise.

"I think it's given me a good education," she says of that experience. "It's schooling by doing it. I didn't really go to school for music. Sometimes I wish I had. Other times I read other people's bios who don't really read music but to me are songwriters I admire. Then I'm OK with it."

Instead, DeVoe abandoned choir altogether by the time she reached high school, you know, because "of course I was way too cool for that." She partied in lieu of honing her future craft.

"I got into some trouble," she admits. "I'm glad I got through it. For me it was like I had all this creative energy that I needed to figure out what to do with."

Enrolling at Ball State University, DeVoe originally wanted to study visual arts. She loves to draw, even made some money at it. After taking some classes, though, she decided to go a different route, graduating in 1992 with degrees in telecommunications and counseling/psychology.

The notion of singing still seemed "the most ridiculous way to make money, until I followed it. You're supposed to follow what you love to do, and the money comes later. If you concentrate on making money, I think you could be unhappy - at least for me."

DeVoe initially tried forging a career she thought would please her parents. But she derived no passion from sitting behind a desk all day. Visions of being trapped in a cubicle, wearing a blue suit, panty hose and "dying a horrible, slow death" began to haunt her. Try as she might, her musical side never fully ebbed.

"I guess the thing you're supposed to do nags at you," DeVoe says. "So I'm glad I had something I was supposed to do."

We are busy passing your CD around our office. We really think it's wonderful! There may be some interest at Lost Highway [current home of Ryan Adams, Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams, etc.] and possibly Rounder [Alison Krauss, Cowboy Junkies, etc.]. [We] would love to pass it along if you want [us] to. [We are] completely impressed with the packaging and recording. Thanks for sharing your art with us; it is very impressive.
--Universal Music Group


DeVoe's office in the old, stately brick home she shares with her husband Rob, four dogs and two cats isn't much to look at. She keeps her fax machine in a hutch. Yet there are clues that it's an artist's workspace, and not just a room for doing bills.

Jim Morrison's mug shot hangs on one wall (because it looks like Rob when he was younger). There's the framed photograph of Louis Armstrong, autographed by the man himself when he played DeVoe's father's fraternity at Ball State. There also are various NUVO awards on display that DeVoe has collected over the years (honoring her for everything from folk to rock to best overall local talent). A pencil drawing of Tom Waits that Rob bought for her at an art fair graces another side of the room ("He's a freak," DeVoe says of Waits. "Whenever I start feeling kind of boxed in - like there are rules to writing - I put on either Ani DiFranco or Tom Waits. With Waits, it's like you're suddenly picturing movies. He's brilliant.").

Then there are the CDs in DeVoe's office. Immaculately lined shelves and disheveled stacks of them. Everyone from Hank Williams and Led Zeppelin to Mavis Staples and Bobby Gentry.

"Really I like everything," DeVoe says. "I even have Kanye West's Gold Digger. This is kind of my school."

School for DeVoe started with the big band records her father would play in the house. There also were the old soul giants: Aretha, Otis, Ray. She latched onto that gospel feel, but also needed those melodies you could hang a hat on.

"For me, when I write my music, I can appreciate jam bands and all kinds of other music, but I appreciate the old soul stuff," DeVoe says. "I feel comfortable there."

Her impending fourth studio release, Strange Sunshine, puts an appropriate name to her sound, particularly the title track.

"There's an optimistic hope in it," DeVoe says. "It's also not a real perky, happy song. I think I put on a front a lot of times just to be happy. But really I'm a songwriter at heart and I have a lot of things I pull from."

It doesn't always come together smoothly. DeVoe describes herself as a prolific songwriter. It's just that not everything she writes she considers good enough. In fact for every composition she introduces to her audience, there's many more that'll never see the light of day.

DeVoe also can't plan a writing session. She's certainly tried. Despite her distaste for a traditional work environment, DeVoe does maintain an office. Just not traditional work hours or even structure.

"The minute I sit to plan to write, it's like I screw it up," she says.

It alludes to that creative energy DeVoe didn't know what to do with as a youth. She admits to being such a spaz then that her mother got her tested for Attention Deficit Disorder before it became in vogue.

"I'm lucky I can do this," she says. "I don't think I would be able to stay in one place for very long."

DeVoe also says she's suffered from insomnia since she was 15.

"Maybe that's a blessing in disguise," she says. "I find when everything's quiet and everybody's gone, something will hit me. And if I don't make myself write it down, they get lost."

Brett Lodde, her longtime guitarist, can attest to DeVoe's bizarre mode of creativity. "She writes all the time," he says. "It kind of drives me nuts."

That includes halting conversations to write lyrics on any piece of paper she can find. DeVoe carries a tape recorder, but even that's not always enough. Sometimes she resorts to calling home and humming a melody on her answering machine.

"It's all scrambled, but it works," Lodde says.

That manic form of composition translates into equally bipolar subject matter.

"That's me, I guess," DeVoe says. "I'm sad and hopeful. I can see many reasons every day to just give up. I guess songwriting kind of keeps me alive, in a metaphoric way. There's nothing so great as finishing a song and playing it for the first time."

Her wordplay is often and purposely shrouded in duplicity, but it's still metaphorically her. Over time DeVoe discovered her audience liked the vulnerability she projected on stage. She learned to incorporate that into her music.

"But I like music for hopeful reasons, and I don't like to linger in dark, angsty places," DeVoe says. "Maybe on my first record I did, but I was just starting out. I think that's how a lot of songwriters start: They have a lot of angst they've got to get out. Hopefully every record I make will evolve, and I'll just get better. But I also hope I'll be able to put them on and still like them."

[We] have just listened to two of your CDs and [are] very impressed. [We] are blown away by your product. Good luck, and thanks for the great music.
--Umusic


The thought of singing professionally didn't seem so ridiculous by the time DeVoe graduated college. She was so determined to give it a go that she went the commercial route with Bill Mallers and Chris Lieber, co-owners of rippleFX, a project studio in Broad Ripple for commercial advertising.

When DeVoe and Rob moved to Indianapolis from Muncie, she got a job at rippleFX pouring coffee, serving doughnuts and assisting customers and staff. It was the longest she ever worked in one place. It was her school.

Eventually DeVoe worked up the courage to tell Mallers and Lieber she could sing, and offered to do voice-over work for them. It had been a secret she managed to keep well.

"I didn't know she could sing when I married her," Rob admits.

Mallers, who later played keyboards in DeVoe's band for about four years, remembers her as a raw talent then.

"She knew she could sing," he said. "She had tons of soul, and she would just open her mouth and let it rip. It's kind of like watching a wild horse run around in the wilderness, but she wanted to be a racehorse. So she had to be tamed a little bit."

Over some five years, DeVoe learned to harness and control her talent. She did voiceover for a national Meijer ad campaign during those five years, an unheard of length of time in that industry.

"We had loads of fun," Mallers says. "We learned from her as well. We did some pretty creative work together. I'm pretty sure that's something she remembers, in terms of creating music. It should be fun. It's not supposed to be toil and trouble."

She then began to build her career as a solo artist.

"It was like a blessing from God," she says. "It's like, 'Here's your money. Go make records and do this commercial stuff on the side and don't be ashamed of it.' It's a good, honest living and I learned in the studio how to get my chops and sing so many different things."

In 1998 her debut, Does She Walk on Water, was released. Two years later came Ta Da. She still likes those two records, but doesn't really listen to them anymore.

"I kind of feel like I made all my mistakes in front of everybody," DeVoe says. "They were great experiments, but they didn't come out the way I wanted because I didn't know how I wanted them to come out."

That's a major reason why DeVoe sought John Parish to produce her next album, and why Parish agreed.

Parish is best known for collaborating with and producing PJ Harvey. DeVoe has long counted herself a fan of Harvey's.

"I'm not like her in any way, but I'm a fan of a lot of music like that," she says. "I like weird, edgy, wacky kind of stuff. But I know what kind of writer and singer I am."

By extension, she's long admired Parish's production of such artists as the Eels and Sparklehorse. It was his work on Tracy Chapman's Let it Rain that finally prompted her to contact the eclectic Englishman.

"It had such an ominous, stark feel with ambiance, but it wasn't riddled with production," she notes.

DeVoe approached Parish like she has everyone else in her career: She looked up contact information for him online and e-mailed his manager. The initial response was a resounding no. A few more inquires finally convinced them to ask for some demos. After sending some completed material, DeVoe gave Parish recordings of just her and guitar. Then he called.

Assuming an English accent, she recounts what he said: "Yes, yes. I like it. I like your voice and I like your songs, and I think we could do a good record."

Parish admits he has to be picky about whom he'll work with.

"I'm in the fortunate position of being approached by quite a lot of people," he says. "It's just physically not possible to do everything, so I have to make choices."

Those are generally made instinctively. What convinced him to work with DeVoe is "I thought she was doing something I felt I could help her get closer to what she wanted her music to be. That's another reason I'll work with someone: I can see what they're trying to do and they're not quite there, and I think I know how to push it into that direction. Jennie was very much one of those cases. I felt I could help her express more clearly what she wanted to express."

Soon after, DeVoe was en route to Bath, England, to work with Parish on what would become her third studio album, Fireworks & Karate Supplies. Lodde accompanied her to play guitar on the record.

"They made us feel so at home," he says. "I was so nervous. Jennie was paying all this money, and the whole time I was thinking, 'My god, these people work with major stars. Who am I?' But they were so relaxed and polite."

It was the start of a new era in DeVoe's musical passage. More than just exuding soul, she wanted something that sounded timeless. It's a quality also found on the Parish-produced Strange Sunshine.

"Hopefully 10 years from now they're going to sound crunchy and cool and authentic," DeVoe says. "You want something to hold up."

Hi Jennie,
Tell me something -- how come a woman as funny as you writes so many sad songs? If I produced an album for you I wouldn't let you put one sad song on it. Where's that sparkling wit? That personality? That Jennie se qua [sic]?
--Email from music supervisor for Sex and the City, who saw DeVoe perform in Nashville, when the sound went down and DeVoe told funny stories until it was restored


Everyone agrees on one aspect of this year's Vintage Wine Festival. "You couldn't ask for better weather," Rob says behind the stage. "That's the thing about Jennie. She tends to bring the rain."

DeVoe is performing a two-hour set at the annual event in Military Park. This is one of those gigs that includes her full band. Besides Lodde, there's keyboardist Greg McGuirk, bassist Jeff Stone and drummer John Wittmann, who, aside from Lodde, has been playing with DeVoe the longest. Soundman Karl Bruhn is the unofficial seventh member.

There's also backing vocalist Nicole Proctor. She falls into that "superfan" category, having routinely attended DeVoe's shows with her sister until Wittmann introduced them and DeVoe invited her on stage to sing. She liked DeVoe so much she got a tattoo of her before joining the band.

"I like the lyrics; that's what I hear," says Proctor, who has a college degree in opera performance. "It's gotta be someone who can sing with lyrics to back it up."

Wittmann hears that more and more in DeVoe's music as time passes. She and her band have passed the point of needing something to prove. Now it's about having trust and each contributor serves the song rather than him or herself.

"This band is not about anyone, but building a truthful foundation," Wittmann says. "Everyone trusts Jennie to be the songwriting engine."

That devotion is reciprocated.

"I always tell my band thanks for coming," DeVoe says. "Because one day they might not show up, and it'll just be me and I'll have no audience."

But the audience shows up today, and the grass is covered with blankets and lawn chairs.

"I feel silly saying Jennie is from Indianapolis and has a soulful, funky sound, because you already know that," says WTTS on-air personality Paul Mendenhall when introducing the band. There's hearty applause when he mentions copies of Strange Sunshine are on sale at the merch table before its official release, and that DeVoe has inked a distribution deal with Sony for the album.

DeVoe decided it was a good time to make the move.

"They're actually still making money," she says of Sony. "And it doesn't seem like they would, but they want to help independent artists that they're affiliated with, who already have somewhat of a success record. They're not going to pick up just anybody."

It's not the only promotional tool she's added to her arsenal. DeVoe also now has someone booking shows for her and handling promotion. She's also launching a radio campaign for the first time. Already she's been added to 11 play lists on stations from Maine to Texas.

"This is a bike, not a motorcycle," she says of, what is for her, a business juggernaut. "But it's cool."

She's finally feeling comfortable enough to ask for a little help. Early on she met a lot of famous artists who were stuck in audits with their record labels.

"Everyone I talked to said, 'Don't do it,'" DeVoe says. "The advice was live without the fame and just kind of edge your way up. That's what I've done. The fame would be great for money reasons, but with the wrong association it would be the wrong move."

It hasn't come without a price. After Does She Walk on Water was released, DeVoe remembers getting a random e-mail from some radio DJ advising her to sign a record deal as quickly as possible. She's sure she's been written off by some for not pursuing fame as ardently as others.

And she's OK with that.

"I've got this really great audience that's kept with me," DeVoe says. "For me, I've gotten better and better on stage. I have a more at-peace feeling talking and singing. I sing better now. I feel like I tell real stories. [I'm not] just this goofball trying to make it big. I might have wanted that for a while. But guess what: I'm more of a singer/songwriter than I am a pop-hit writer. And I figured it out."

A set of older and newer material -- the plaintive gospel of "Here on Earth" to the Motown mirth of "Exit 229" -- bears that out at the Vintage Wine Festival. Groups of people dance by the third song, the slinky, Southern groove of "Born to be Bad." Afterward, during a performance by the Gin Blossoms, DeVoe signs autographs for two hours.

It's quite a marker for a self-made career. And she's not finished yet. Not when she's striving for the heights of a Bonnie Raitt or a Patti Griffin or a Diana Krall.

"I want to be that good," DeVoe says. "I don't think I'm quite that good yet. I've had my moments, but I don't think I'm quite there yet. I'll just keep going. Until I die."
- NUVO


"PopMatters Review: Strange Sunshine"

by Alan Brown

In 2004, Indianapolis-based singer-songwriter Jennie DeVoe packed her suitcase and guitar for a trip across the pond to the English spa town of Bath. She had enlisted the aid of PJ Harvey collaborator, multi-instrumentalist, and, most importantly, producer John Parish for her third album Fireworks & Karate Supplies. The intimate, bluesy record she brought home from that visit garnered critical praise and some serious radio play back in the States.

Five years on, DeVoe has returned to Bath, and to Parish, for her follow-up studio album, Strange Sunshine. This time around, however, she paid for her touring band to come along for the ride. The resulting album demands respect as quavering tremelo guitar, floating Mellotron, and piercing Hammond B3 organ provide the tight backing-groove for DeVoe’s sultry, honey-eyed vocals to evolve from a confidential rasp ("Strange Sunshine") to sanctified blues belter ("Foolproof"), and on to soulful powerhouse gospel ("I Break Down"), before slipping back into a sensual country-shuffle, accompanied by Parish on banjo, that references Cher’s “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” on the optimistic “Blind Faith”. Strange Sunshine is a record of highlights where tales of broken hearts and tumultuous relationships have never sounded so sassy, yet at the same time so seductively heartwrenching—quite an achievement in itself.
- PopMatters


"Colorado Springs Independent Review: Strange Sunshine"

The blues-soul idiom has more than its share of acts that try to get your attention with big guitars and strong backbeats. Jennie DeVoe takes a refreshingly different approach, pulling back on the instrumentation and applying a more subtle and nuanced touch. It works, first of all, because it leaves room for her sultry and earthy voice to shine. What also helps is that DeVoe has some solid songwriting chops. She brings understated sass to "No Damn Man," unfurls a beguiling guitar riff that lifts "Map of the World" to considerable heights, and generates some deep and unhurried boogie on "Shoulda Stayed." The lone cover on the album, the Susan Tedeschi/Tom Hambridge song, "Foolproof," is another highlight, as DeVoe works an effectively dirty groove on the track. Turns out she knows how to pick outside material, too. — Alan Sculley - Colorado Springs Independent


Discography

Does She Walk on Water, 1998
Ta Da, 2000
Thank You, Goodnight, 2002
Fireworks & Karate Supplies, 2004
Strange Sunshine, release date: July 21st, 2009

Photos

Bio

"Jennie DeVoe's voice is smoked honey on a sultry summer evening...smooth, sweet and warm, steeped in the kettle of blues/R&B - but with a rare and wonderful flavor all her own. Only a handful of girls will ever get to sound this good."- Krista Detor, singer/songwriter.

Jennie DeVoe's critically-acclaimed 5th cd, Strange Sunshine, has just been released by Rubin the Cat Records (indie), with distribution by Sony Red. The new record comes to you straight from Bath, England, where it was produced by John Parish, who is best known for his work with PJ Harvey, The Eels and Tracy Chapman. This is John's second record with Jennie, and they are an awesome fit-delivering a work of art that's a fresh, edgy, raw throwback to the soul records that Otis & Aretha used to make. Says Howard Dukes of Soul Tracks magazine, "Strange Sunshine is a record for listeners who love good lyrics. DeVoe wrote or co-wrote every song except the fun "Foolproof," and her songwriting captures the wittiness, world weariness, hope and simple brilliance that is blues music at its best." The record doesn't sound like a soul you've ever heard, yet DeVoe sounds like a singer schooled by the best with a voice that let's you know she's no beginner and that she means exactly what she's saying. Agrees Dukes, "The star of this show is DeVoe's vocal instrument. It's not just her range and power that impresses. DeVoe sings with an honesty that makes the listener believe she is baring her soul on every track." Says singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer, "Jennie DeVoe is an artist who sings with genuine depth: she's strong and powerful, yet willing to be audaciously vulnerable. Strange Sunshine is a collection of beautifully written songs, expertly produced, performed and presented, and a testament to all she's lived, loved and learned. Jennie DeVoe is unmistakably the real deal, and so is Strange Sunshine. This album definitely has achieved that kind of quality we songwriters/musicians can only hope for; it's authentic, powerful and darn fine writing." 

Stuff you should know: While she remains one of the Midwest's most highly respected and well-known singer songwriters, Jennie Devoe is just beginning to receive Triple A and other radio adds around the country-26 states and counting, plus the Virgin Islands. Jennie's song, "How I Feel," was the 1st place winner of Billboard Magazine's World Song Contest (Best Pop Song, 2004), just one of her many "Best Of" honors. Her songs have been added to rotation on Triple-A and college radio stations across the country, and been licensed to several well-known television shows (Dawson's Creek, Joan of Arcadia). She's performed all over the country, including at the last Lillith Fair, and opened for greats like Bonnie Raitt, Joe Cocker, Lucinda Williams, Jack Johnson, Ray Charles, and many more. Attracting fans of all ages, the Indianapolis-based DeVoe is at her best in front of a listening audience, never failing to mesmerize and captivate with her talent, humor and personality. No matter the venue, DeVoe makes you feel like you're in your living room with old friends-until she knocks you flat with her amazing voice, and you forget where you are entirely. Jennie DeVoe is the kind of singer who makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand at attention. To watch her work is to fall in love with someone who is in love with what they do. Says Klipsch Audio, "Jennie DeVoe never fails to deliver intense, deeply personal songs that draw you into her impassioned world. One part power with two parts raw emotion. Jennie is the perfect blend of spirit, style and originality."For a better look at the music and personality of Jennie DeVoe, please view the short video, "Jennie DeVoe and Her Music," in the video section of the EPK.

**Please see the PDF rider under the "Basic Requirements" tab for a more complete bio. Thanks!**