This is a newspaper article that came out yesterday in a local paper from my hometown about me and my CD (is that proper grammar? Or is it my CD and I? )
Enjoy! Oh – and Happy Valentine’s Day!
By BRIDGET BUDBILL
Jennifer Thomas has been a musician since the days here pajamas had attached booties. Thankfully, she’s improved since the days she pounded away at her toy piano beneath the family Christmas tree.
Thomas, a Stanwood High School graduate from the class of 1995, is now releasing her first album titled “Key of Sea”, and the mix of classical and new age compositions promises to leave listeners sailing.
“It’s classical crossover – the music is classical with newer elements, updated to sound fresh,” said Thomas.
Musical success is no stranger to Thomas, whose childhood dedication led her to become the only second grader in the sixth grade orchestra – she was the concert master, too. “To me, I was just sitting where they told me to,” said Thomas.
Humility isn’t the only thing Thomas, now a married resident of Bothell, learned from her mother, Carolyn Southworth.
Southworth, a Camano Island resident, is also an accomplished musician and released her own first album of piano compositions in October. The album, “At the End of the Day” is currently on airwaves in 20 countries.
Being a Southworth child meant early mornings of piano and violin lessons from Mom herself – and that was before driving to 7:30 a.m. orchestra practices at school before class began.
“Being a musician myself, I couldn’t help but have music in the home, ” said Southworth, who taught Jennifer and her three sons to play the piano.
“Jenni was different – playing just ignited a fire inside her,” said Southworth.
Thomas remembers the moment she embraced the piano as a source of joy. She was watching the Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly musical comedy “Anchors Aweigh” as a 12-year-old girl. One of the movie’s most memorable scenes depicts a rehearsal at the Hollywood Bowl, where some 20 grand pianos rehearse together onstage.
“All 20 of these pianists were my age, and they were playing Liszt’s ‘Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2,'” said Thomas, who begged her mother to buy her the sheet music, even though it is arguably one of the most difficult piano pieces to master.
“She had no clue about how difficult it is – it’s horrendous,” said Southworth, “She was discouraged at first, but she would not give up.”
Southworth warned her daughter of the music’s difficulty but bought it anyway.
“I wanted to play it so badly that I never thought twice about how hard it was,” said Thomas.
It took Thomas four years, but she did it.
Like any typical teenager, Thomas enjoyed playing loud music. However, rather than hair bands or gangsta rap, she fancied practicing songs of Rachmaninoff and Beethoven. “In their era, their music was a step ahead of the time, and it was faster than many other piano songs I was given,” said Thomas.
During her college years at Brigham Young University – Idaho, Thomas began playing the violin again, and continued to grow as a pianist in various performing groups at school.
Again, a piece of incredible difficulty peaked her interest. This time it was the Prokofiev’s “Piano Concerto No. 3,” and Thomas said playing the piece was like a three-ring circus for her hands.
“That piece was literally acrobatics for my fingers,” Thomas recalls of the roughly 40 pages of memorized music, consisting of so many multiple crossovers, atonal chord structures, and glissandos that her fingers bled on numerous occassions.
After graduation from college, Thomas spent several years playing with different performing groups and in concert series in Salt Lake City and Seattle.
It wasn’t until 2004 that Thomas began composing. After attending an intimate holiday benefit concert, she was so inspired by the artists’ compositions that she went home and tried herself.
Thomas began performing her compositions for friends and family, who were so taken by her work that they continually encouraged Thomas to record her songs so they could share them with others.
With a keyboard she hooked up to her computer, Thomas began recording her songs, and according to her, the first editions were lousy.
“I decided that I wanted to really do it right,” said Thomas.
By the end of 2005, Thomas decided she would professionally record her own album. Southworth just so happened to be in the midst of recording her first album at that time, and so her daughter sat in on some of the recording sessions as a learning experience.
Soon after, Thomas located a studio in Bellevue and created a full-length album consisting of composed songs she played herself. Among other guest artists is her mother, who plays violin on one track.
Since the completion of the album in December, Thomas has received numerous requests from local film makers to use her music, or for her to write their scores.
Thomas and Southworth have talked about possibly working together on a future CD, but for now both musicians are content with exploring their individual talents.
“Our styles are totally different,” said Southworth. “Jenni just loves classical, and I’m more interested in contemporary.”
Currently, Thomas is thrilled to experience the role of those she has always admired – composers and performers of classical pieces.
“I’m not interested in being the next pop star,” said Thomas. “I’m seriously interested in creating music.”
For more information about Jennifer Thomas or to purchase her CD, visit www.jenniferthomasmusic.com
Staff Reporter Bridget Budbill: 629-2155, ext 125 or email@example.com