News Article from The Everett Herald

everettheraldBothell pianist to perform at Release Concert for CD
Jennifer Thomas will play a few songs with her mother, also a talented pianist.

By Sharon Wootton
Special to The Herald





Little girls have been known to rummage through their mothers’ closets, slip their small feet into too-large high heels, and parade around “just like mom.”

In Jennifer Thomas’ childhood, “just like mom” meant playing the piano and taking piano and violin lessons from her mother.

“She liked to play things loud and fast. I’d say, ‘Jenni, slow down, slow down!’†” said Carolyn Southworth.

“She ended up fighting me for time at the piano. Who can complain about that as a teacher or parent?” said Southworth, whose family lived in Stanwood for years before moving to Camano Island.

When Thomas was 12, she saw “Anchors Aweigh,” the Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra classic, and was fascinated by the scene of 20 pianists simultaneously playing Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” on 20 grand pianos.

“I pleaded with my mom to buy me the music.”

It was so hard that it took Thomas four years to learn it through sheer perseverance.

Thomas, now 29 and a Bothell resident, performs Saturday in Bellevue at a CD launch concert for “Key of Sea.”

While the daughter will be in the spotlight, her mother will play a piece from her own recently released CD (“At the End of the Day”) and play violin on one of her daughter’s songs.

Thomas describes her music as new-age classical.

“It’s something I can write that comes from my heart. It has more emotion and touches people’s feelings more than rock ‘n’ roll, and it’s easier to listen to,” Thomas said.

“Mom is definitely into more contemporary music. She loves jazz. I’m more classical-orientated. I’m from a little younger generation, so I put in more technobeats, downtempo beats in my music,” said Thomas, who majored in classical piano studies in college.

Southworth said of her own style: “So many people tell me that when they’re stressed, they turn it on and the stresses go away. But it’s very upbeat music. Some people define new-age music as boring and bland, but that’s not how I write.

“The funny part is that people look at my age (54) and think I’m into classical and my daughter is into more contemporary music, yet it’s visa versa. I call one of my songs (“Where Eagles Soar”) new-age rock,” Southworth said.

For Thomas, the hardest aspect of composing deals with inspiration, “when you haven’t composed anything for awhile and try to get inspiration and it’s not coming. I tried to write when I knew I wasn’t inspired and it never came out sounding (right). It’s easiest when it comes so fast you almost can’t write it down fast enough.”

Thomas is happy that her mother had the opportunity to cut her own CD.

“She’s been composing ever since I was really young and it’s something she always wanted to do. It’s always been a dream. She just needed a little encouragement,” Thomas said.

About 1 years ago, Thomas started putting her music on the Internet for people to download. She encouraged her mother to do the same.

“Within six to eight months, she had 14,000 downloads. That’s what helped her go ahead, all those people who loved her music,” Thomas said. “She began to think, ‘Maybe I can really do it.’†”

Rather then rent a Steinway for recording in the studio, Southworth had her 7-foot Baldwin concert piano moved to the studio.

“We could have recorded it at our house but we have Whidbey jets flying overhead,” Southworth said.

Mother and daughter have talked about creating a CD together, playing to their strengths even though their styles differ.

“I’m good at writing melody; Jenni is good at orchestrating things.”

Neither skill requires high heels.

Carolyn Southworth and Jennifer Thomas are mother-daughter musicians, each with recent CD releases.


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