Jenee Halstead has been one of my favorite Boston-area singer-songwriters for well over a decade. I clearly recall seeing her singing at Club Passim, probably at one of their memorable Campfire weekends. I’ve seen her rocking and rolling at Toad in Cambridge and I’ve seen her melt hearts at many a coffeehouse and campfire. Jenee has greatly contributed to the New England music scene and I love what she has to say about her musical muses.
Jenee’s s/heroes are eclectic and say a lot about the sound of her own original music. I hear a little bit of Dolly Parton on her debut album, The River Grace and I can hear tinges of Kate Bush on her recording, Edge of the World. Joni Mitchell and Patty Griffin circulate throughout all of Jenee’s music.
Jenee will be participating in a special tribute show at the me&thee coffeehouse in Marblehead, MA on February 22, 2019. Breaking Barriers: Tribute to the Women Who Paved the Way features Jenee, Danielle Miraglia, Lisa Bastoni, and Samantha Farrell—four terrific Boston-based songwriters who will share some of their favorite songs by their favorite female musicians as well as some of their original songs!
To learn more about Jenee, check out her website.
Here’s a video of her song “Taste Me.”
Jenee tells us about her influences and what she’ll be playing at the me&thee on February 22.
I am covering Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Dolly Parton and Patty Griffin for the evening. These four women have been the most foundational in me wanting to pick up a guitar and write music. As far as speaking to the mark they have imprinted on me, I think I would like to talk about Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush. I always loved Joni from the time I was a child and I grew up listening to her music. I remember being young and holding the cover of Ladies of the Canyon and wondering what these mysterious songs were about. I was too young to truly understand what she was singing about, but her voice was sad and angelic. I remember “Blue Boy” and “Rainy Night House” just haunting me as a child. As I started to play, I realized Joni has found an absolutely genius and unique way into music with her alternate guitar tunings and her deep emotive and personal lyrical style. I would change my guitar tunings and deconstruct her songs for hours. I really found that on the guitar at least, Mitchell had a bit of a code or theoretical road map that she used to write songs. For me, it was really a gateway into writing, and many of my songs were inspired by this: “Skipping Stones,” “Before I Go,” “Edge of the World” and a few others.
I came to Kate Bush later in my life…in my mid-twenties, but when I heard Hounds of Love it turned my world on its head. It was the most beautiful, complicated, emotive, intricate, elemental music I have ever heard. For me, Kate Bush is the Queen and I am not sure if anyone can touch her. I really feel like she is a witch or an elemental being that walked straight out of the forest and embedded herself into the hearts of an entire generation of hardcore music lovers. She is a master of fire, water, earth, and air. Her command of voice, not from just a technical approach, but as someone who is truly using the sound current to rearrange the elements of the world, to rearrange the feelings inside us. When she sings she emotes the words and the vibration of the words to such a degree that you feel she is singing into your soul. It’s a soul language. The story, her sense of writing, which embraces the metaphysical and comes from a much deeper world of archetype, symbol and preverbal language (almost primordial in sound), opens the door to our subconscious minds and feeling world. She opens the heart to the deepest well of feeling. In my own way, I am trying to at least access this feeling place when I write and sing. I try to tell the story of my soul from the lyrical content and the way I approach my singing. Bush has been a profound influence for me understanding this type of expression.
“She [Jenee] takes you the edge with some of the most beautifully contemplative, ambient arrangements of recent times. I put this record on and was awestruck.” —- Steve Morse, Boston Globe