Jennifer Grayson
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Jennifer Grayson

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The pop classical stylings of this Los Angeles based treasure will be on display tonight. No doubt you will be moved by Jennifer Grayson's unique, operatic sound, but please, do not touch.

--Lisa Brenner - LA.com


Those of you who actually read my previous posts may have noticed that whenever I come around with a new tip of the month/week, it's something as much removed from the previous one as humanly possible.

I think my last candidate was Tony MacAlpine (or was it Tal Wilkenfeld)? And here we go again for something totally different:

Jennifer Grayson
http://www.myspace.com/
jennifergrayson

who comes equipped with a rock-solid classical education as a soprano, takes on the much-maligned and -abused "crossover" approach and manages to breath some delightful and surprising new life into material we heard before, such as Puccinis "Babbino caro" or the Musette Waltz from "La Bohème." She does it with such verve and freshness that I believe that she might soften up even the hardiest of purists.

Whoever was forced to sit through an entire session of "Rondo Veneziano" (I was) is probably aware that "Crossover" can at times be a pain which, to the advanced listener, takes second row only to root canal surgery. Jacques Loussier's "Play Bach," while groundbreaking in his time, is impossible to listen to these days, and even Bobby McFerrin makes ground meat of Mozart as he tries his hand on the master. Goes to show, even world-class musicians are often well-advised to stay away from stuff they can't handle.

Jennifer Grayson can, and she totally rocks doing it. Enjoy. - Alexander Schaumburg-Lippe


The line between classical music and popular music is a strong border entrenched on one side by popular mores and on the other by hundreds of years of history and tradition. It is rare for a classical musician to cross over into the popular realm because the discipline and technique required in classical music isn't valued in the popular realm. Nevertheless classically trained musicians do cross over to varying degrees of success. Jennifer Grayson is classically trained on both piano and voice, debuting as the principal soprano in nothing short of the Carmina Burana in Boston's Jordan Hall. She's studied voice at Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts and the New England Conservatory Of Music. Constrained by the classical music world, Grayson felt a desire to make her mark in the realm of popular music. Her performances have included modern interpretations of her classical music repertoire as well as updates of pop classics. Recently Grayson took the big step of releasing her first single in the digital realm. New World/How Blue combines expansive and subdued pop arrangements with an ethereal voice unlike anything in popular music.

Grayson puts aside the pop convention of singing from the throat and sticks with the voice she knows best: gorgeous tone and vibrato. Grayson's voice is haunting and beautiful. You may find yourself so entranced that you forget what she's singing about. The musical arrangements are smart, mellow pop/rock stuff; perfect vehicles to let Grayson due show her best side vocally. New World builds to a climax that gives us just glimpses of Grayson's full soprano range, climbing and building in intensity by half measures from start to finish. How Blue allows Grayson to soar into the higher altitudes of her vocal register. The song itself has an air of longing that's part melancholy and part hope, and Grayson delivers this mood perfectly.

Jennifer Grayson may have the most beautiful voice in popular music. The question from a commercial perspective is whether it may be too beautiful. Grayson delivers tone and vocal quality rarely heard on pop radio, but lacks the sort of vocal imperfections that tend to make a voice interesting or iconic in the pop world. There's definitely a market for a voice like hers in popular music, but it may be limited to the adult contemporary realm. That's not a problem, and we really hope Grayson doesn't try to sound more like a rocker girl, her sound is refreshing and will hopefully inspire more classically trained vocalists to jump the border into the pop realm. Grayson's first single is a wonderful introduction to an artist whom we hope will continue to add her voice to the pop conversation.

http://wildysworld.blogspot.com/2009/01/review-jennifer-grayson-new-worldhow.html

- Wildy's World


Discography

Single recently released on iTunes, Amazon.com, and Rhapsody.

Photos

Bio

In the footsteps of a select group of popular artists, Jennifer Grayson is a classically trained musician with a rebel soul. Her love of classical music began early: As a child, her mother would turn on the classical radio station on car rides to stop Jennifer and her younger brother from fighting. Her brother would fall asleep; she would listen, enchanted. At the age of four, she asked her parents for a piano, and studied classical piano for years before realizing that her true musical love was singing. Not convinced she wanted to pursue music as her career, she attended the University of Pennsylvania with the intention of continuing on to medical school; but after touring as a lead singer with UPenn’s acclaimed rock a cappella group Off the Beat and studying classical voice with a teacher at Philadelphia’s prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts, she realized she wanted to pursue her musical ambitions full time. Transferring to the renowned New England Conservatory of Music, she studied opera, making her concert debut at Boston’s venerable Jordan Hall as the soprano soloist in Carmina Burana, to rave Boston Globe reviews.

But after graduating and making her way in the classical music world, living in NYC and Los Angeles and performing in full-scale operatic and musical productions—and building her reputation as a classical soloist—Jennifer realized she wanted something more. Says Jennifer, “While I’ve always loved the pure beauty of classical music—I’ve always related to the melodies on a visceral level—I felt stifled in that world. Here I was, performing the same exact repertoire of songs and operatic roles that every soprano has for the past hundred years or more. I thought about all of the popular music I also loved—the Beatles, Fiona Apple, Radiohead—and realized that I wanted to have my own unique sound.”

Wanting to move beyond typical “classical crossover,” Jennifer turned to her musician friends in the pop world for help (who had played with artists such as Paul Simon, Norah Jones, and Rachel Yamagata). What began as a modern take on existing classical repertoire—intimate, Beatles-esque interpretations of arias and art song—has now evolved into her own eclectic style: Her recent performances and recordings have included lush and innovative interpretations of classical music, other artists’ songs, and original material. And while she can name modern artists like Rufus Wainwright and Bjork among her influences, her clear and soulful soprano voice is unique in the pop realm. Los Angeles club audiences have termed her distinctive sound “hauntingly beautiful” and “mesmerizing.” Having just released her first single on iTunes, and recently been featured on LA.com and KCLA 99.3 FM, Jennifer is excited to share her music with the world. Says Matthew Libman, who produced her recent single: “I think that with the current state of the world and all its uncertainty, people need beauty in their lives…beautiful music that people can really connect with…Jennifer has the whole package.”

Recent shows:

Los Angeles: The Mint
Tangier
Genghis Cohen
Room 5