My Story

Here is my extended bio. My story.

It’s for those who want to know the nitty-gritty details.

If that doesn’t sound like you, then you can skip on over to my professional bio. It’s shorter.

My earliest memory of music… was in 1980 as a 3 years old, in my onesie pajamas pounding away on a tinkley toy piano underneath a huge Christmas tree. I remember my mom having a brown wood colored upright piano at the time, and I would put my piano right here next to her’s and play away. I did have another toy piano before that (around 18 months or so), but my first memory of anything was around 3 years old.

Age 18 months

My first piano – 3 yrs old

When I turned 5, my mother started me on Suzuki violin lessons. Being quite the accomplished violinist herself, she taught me. (Suzuki is a method of learning where you start out by playing everything only by ear. The teacher plays it to the student, and the student plays it back. Eventually you learn to read notes). Later that same year, after having some violin lessons under my belt, my mom then began teaching me to play the piano. By that time, my older brother was also taking lessons for both piano and cello (from my mom).

By the time I reached the 2 nd grade, my brother and I were up at 6:00 in the morning taking turns practicing. Michael would be on the piano for 30 minutes while I was in another room practicing violin, and then we would switch so I would get the piano and he would go practice the cello. And by this time, it was always a fight for who got the piano first. My mom had finally accomplished one of her dreams and purchased a 7 foot concert grand piano. It’s amazing how much more motivation one can have when presented with a shiny new big black piano verses an old wooden tinny upright.

At age five

Around 6 or 7 yrs old

After the grueling morning practice sessions, my mom would load us and our instruments into the car and take us to school where we had orchestra rehearsal at 7:30am before school started. My mom was a volunteer for the school music program and so she would help out with string sectionals – which I thought was so cool at the time. There’s nothing more comforting to a 7 year old than to get to go to school and have your mom there.

jenni grade school pics (Grade School Orchestra practice – early mornings before school started)

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Now I don’t remember this at the time, but my mother tells me that I was the only 2nd grader in a 6th grade orchestra, and I was also the concert master. That was news to me – I certainly didn’t remember feeling like the youngest person there. Nor do I remember being the “concert master” (which I’m sure at the time was not really a concert master-ish role).

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Playing in the school orchestra – 7 yrs old

Eventually there came a point on the piano when I was able to start playing some harder music. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy all of the piano lessons I’d had up to that point, but it was as if all of a sudden playing the piano became really fun! I actually enjoyed what I was playing. When I was 12 years old I remember watching the old classic movie “Anchors Aweigh” with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. There is a scene in that movie where they sneak into a rehearsal at the Hollywood Bowl, and there are about 17 grand pianos on the stage.

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All 17 of these pianists were simultaneously playing Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody #2. I got so excited and decided I wanted to play that piece of music. After a lot of pleading, I finally convinced my mom to buy the sheet music for me – which didn’t come without her forewarning of how hard of a piece it was. Okay, and so yes, it was quite difficult to learn. It took me a very long time actually, but I did learn most of it. If you could take a peak at the sheet music now, you would see it all marked with scribbles from a 12 year old. Some of the music was in the key of E# Major (4 sharps), and so I had to write into the music which notes those were. In a nutshell, it was during this time in my early life when I really started to become more interested in the piano more than the violin.

Around age 9 – playing in a talent show

That’s me, the goofball, with my 3 brothers at Wallowa Lake, Oregon – probably somewhere around 10 or 11 yrs old. Not sure.

My small high school didn’t have an orchestra program, and so I actually didn’t even pick up the violin for about 4 years. I tried to get involved in some community orchestras, but most of them required us to drive a 2 hour round trip – and we eventually just gave up on those orchestras.

But it wasn’t by default I concentrated on the piano more, it was my own desire. I practiced a great deal in high school, usually a couple of hours a day. I was heavily into classical music – I wanted to play anything and everything that allowed me to play loud and fast (Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, etc.). As you can imagine, this drove both of my parents a little mad. If you know how loud a piano can carry in a house, especially on a 7 foot concert grand, then you can imagine the headaches my family had.

By that time, my mom also had a full studio of piano students, as well as my three brothers taking lessons. Needless to say, the piano was constantly being played throughout the day. During some of my teen years, my mother finally got burnt out on teaching me and so she outsourced me to a different piano teacher for a couple of years, which was the first time I had ever taken lessons from someone who was not my own mother.

By the time I had finished high school, I had been the choir accompanist, the school musicals/plays accompanist, participated in talent shows, earned blue ribbons at Solo & Ensemble festivals, was nominated as one of the “most talented” students in the school, and performed a piano solo at my graduation ceremony.

Me performing a solo for Solo & Ensemble, at Portland State University (9th grade, age 14)

High school graduation – age 17

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After high school graduation, I left home and went to college in Eastern Idaho – at Brigham Young University.

You are probably wondering why Idaho of all places?

BYU is a university that is supported by my church, and I always wanted to attend a school where I could be comfortable in my values and have a positive college experience. There are three different BYU’s – one in Idaho, Utah, and Hawaii. In retrospect I think I would have rather of gone to Hawaii! But alas, Idaho was the one I got accepted into and it turns out it was a huge blessing in disguise. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience there, despite the extreme cold temperatures and snow.

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byu idaho campus

After arriving there for my first freshman semester, I signed up to take a few music classes just to see what the music program was like. I also brought my violin with me, finally brushed the dust off of it and signed up for the non-auditioned college string orchestra. It was the first time I’d played my violin in about 4 years. I was a tad rusty.

College was amazing to me.

For the first time in my life, aside from my own family, I was around others my age who were very passionate about music. I had this idea that a college music program was going to be very competitive, and that it would drain the life right out of me. Which… it did in some ways. But for the most part the other students and professors in the piano program were all very supportive. (I can also attribute some of this due to the fact that the school was not a very large university and had the atmosphere of a junior college, with more one-on-one attention from the professors. We would attend each other’s recitals, sit in and give critique when asked for, etc. It only propelled me to practice more and get better and better.)

My second semester in college, I decided to audition on violin for the college’s symphony-orchestra. I made it in and performed with the symphony for the remainder of my schooling there.

I often regret losing those 4 years when I didn’t pick up the violin during high school, often cursing myself because I could have been a lot better had I practiced. I did practice hard though to try to catch up, but could definitely see the difference in skill level between the other violinists and myself. And I still did not practice the violin as much as I should have because I was concentrating more on the piano. But it was a very wonderful and very educational experience performing with such a talented group.

My conductor, Dr. Kevin Call, even though often unintentionally intimidating me with his vast knowledge and talent, taught me an immense amount about theory and timing. I honestly don’t know of a better way to learn how to count than to play in an ensemble.

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My stand partner, Brittany, and I during a concert of Handel’s “Messiah”

Halloween Symphony Concert (1700’s gals) – Mel and I

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Other fellow violinists from my college symphony

Performing in the historic Tabernacle on Temple Square with my college symphony

As for piano, I really learned how to fine-tune my skills and actually realized what a sloppy player I had been up until college. I don’t know if sloppy is the right word, but I definitely wasn’t playing as precise, or with as much skill and emotion before then.

I was lucky enough to study with a fabulous teacher, Dr. Stephen Allen, who is still the dean of piano studies at BYU-Idaho. With him, it wasn’t just about the piano, but how you connect with it; your ability to make the piano sing your emotions. He taught me many lessons not just about piano, but about life.

My college piano professor, Dr. Stephen Allen, and I

My average day in college consisted of 8 hours of practicing and playing the piano, and about 5 – 6 hours of classes.

Just as I wanted to learn a monster of a piece when I was 12 years old, I set my sights high in college and was determined to be the best that I could be.

I entered the school’s concerto competition my last year there, playing one of the hardest pieces of music I’ve ever learned: Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3. That piece was literally acrobatics for my fingers. Multiple crossovers, atonal chord structures, glissandos that made my fingers even bleed a couple of times – roughly 40 pages of memorized music. More than anything I ever wanted before, I wanted the chance to solo with the symphony – and that was the prize for the winner of this competition.

I went through several rounds of competitions and made it to the finals, competing against just one other pianist. I ended up 2nd, but I was still very proud of myself for making it that far. It was worth it to hear my professor compliment me by letting me know I was one of the top 2 pianists of the school. I also gained a lot of respect around the music program community at the school after that competition, which was nice. I was bombarded with requests to both perform with and accompany other music majors. For the first time, I had to learn to use the word “no” to opportunities, as I literally did not have enough time to accommodate.

Me performing in the Finals of the BYU-I Concerto Competition on Prokofiev’s 3rd Piano Concerto

Performing in a 2-piano duet concert with duet partner, Christine.

After I graduated from college , I moved back home to the Seattle area and started my own teaching studio out of my parents’ home. I had around 30 students, and I truly enjoyed that. I did miss performing though. A year later, at 22 years of age, I moved from Washington to Utah and lived there for 4 years, with the hopes of either continuing my education, performing, or just having a good life experience.

Me after my last student recital in Washington, before moving to Utah. I performed a Liszt Piano Concerto for my students at the end of the night. 

I auditioned for the Salt Lake City Temple Square Concert Series and was brought on board there – where I performed for them on the piano for 3 years (which was an amazing experience, by the way).

My Grandmother and I – after a performance on Temple Square on an 1870 Steinway

Me at a beautiful 9 foot Steinway that I had the opportunity to regularly  perform on at the Conference Center on Temple Square

I also joined one of the local symphonies and played violin with them for a couple of years. It was while I was a member of that symphony where I had the opportunity of soloing with them, which as I said earlier, I had always wanted to do.

They held a concerto competition, which I entered and ended up being chosen as a winner to solo in a concert with them. I performed Edward MacDowell’s 2nd Piano Concerto. It was one of the most beautiful and energizing musical experiences I have had.

Did I happen mention that I had contracted an odd case of stage-fright during college?

I don’t know why because I had been performing my entire life. Maybe it had something to do with playing in front of audiences with rows of judges critiquing your every move on the keyboard, or the feeling that you are like a bug under a microscope being studied by an audience of scientists. Whatever it was that caused it, I caught it and had it bad for a few years even after college.

Me soloing with the Murray Symphony Orchestra on the MacDowell Piano Concerto No. 2 (You can watch this performance on my YouTube channel)

Having stage fright… didn’t stop me from performing, but I was always worried about being up there on stage and forgetting my music, or drawing a blank due to the nervousness. Even sometimes now I can be a nervous wreck before I get up there, but once I am on the stage and play that first note on the piano, I’m home. I’ve come to learn something about myself – that these “Pre-performance jitters” are largely due to self-doubt that I inflict upon myself. I might be getting ahead of myself here, but it’s taken me years to learn that music is not about competition (like it had been for me through high school and college).

Music is all about beauty, and giving of oneself and one’s gifts to another to appreciate. Which, as I will tell you about in a little bit, is something that only discovered after I found my place in music.

Eventually, I moved back to Seattle and landed a job working for the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall. I was in the education department, and had a very rewarding job of getting to teach young school students about both the piano and violin. I also was lucky enough to meet many other talented musicians and artists. When I knew an artist was coming into town that was performing with the symphony, I would try to make it backstage as much as possible to listen to the rehearsals and attend the concerts. I have met Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, and Itzak Perlman. Also Lang Lang, and Pearl Jam to name a few.

A night shot of Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle (Laura Swimmer, Photographer)

During my time working at the Seattle Symphony, I also had the opportunity to be a performer for the Seattle Composer’s Salon which is held at Benaroya Hall as well.

As a gift for participating in a string quartet that performed one of his compositions at this event, I was given a violin as a gift from composer and violin maker, Doug Palmer. You may notice the violin in my photo shoot for my album, as it is a very unique instrument. Instead of a scroll at the head of the fingerboard, there is a fist. Let me tell you, I’ve been an instant hit with the elementary aged kids with that instrument. Especially the boys, as I usually hear “Whoa – that is the coolest violin ever!!” It also draws quite the crowd when I take it into violin shops for adjustments. And the sound on this violin is incredibly rich and deep. I loved it so much that I actually ended up selling my original violin (which I paid a pretty penny for) to a guy in Austria, and ended up keeping my Palmer violin instead. It is also the violin I used for the recording of my album.

So you might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned anything so far about composing music…

I didn’t actually compose my first song until Christmas of 2003.

All of my life people have come up to me after a performance and asked “So do you compose music as well?” I would half-way chuckle at the question and say “No, not at all.”

My mother was a composer and that was always her thing. My thing was performing. And especially during college, as a student of classical music I tended to think of myself as a completely separate and different kind of artist than a composer. Composers wrote the music, I performed it – just like how writers write movie scripts, and actors play the parts.

That was how it was, and I really had no desire to change that.

There was one instant where I thought I would actually try to sit down and write a song and believe me, it was incredibly pathetic and came out sounding like a sad version of chopsticks. I just accepted the fact that I was not meant to be a composer and really never tried again after that.

At least not until one beautiful night…

It was Christmas time of 2003, and my parents, younger brother, and I went out one evening to attend a benefit concert. The performers were the Grammy award winning duo, Tingstad and Rumbel. It was set in a small intimate hall to a sold-out crowd of around 200 people. Nancy Rumbel played a variety of wind instruments, and Eric Tingstad played his acoustic guitar. They performed several original arrangements of Christmas carols. I grew up listening to Tingstad and Rumbel and though I’ve always enjoyed their music, I was only expecting to hear what I had always heard (which is lovely by the way).

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However, sitting there in that concert, I felt mesmerized by their beautiful music.

The music was so simple: just two instruments, yet it had incredible depth of sound. To say the least, I was deeply touched. I remember sitting there in the concert and feeling so inspired. All of my life the music I had played was so complex, so intricate, so demanding. And yet here I was listening to the most simple and beautiful music in the world.

After the concert, I just kept thinking “I want to do that.” 

I went home that night, sat down at the piano in a candle and Christmas tree lit room and composed my very first song “Old Movie Romance”. A few days later, I composed another song, “Prelude in F”.

Well, and then I didn’t compose anything else for a very long time. It was like I was hit with a wave of inspiration that came and left. But it left a good taste in my mouth, that’s for sure.

64596_10151143265956689_1423695888_n (With Nancy Rumbel in 2012 (years later we became friends)

I knew I might be on to something when I performed the two songs for a few different people at the symphony, and I was highly encouraged to continue with it.

At the time, I was also in the early stages of dating my now-husband, Will. I asked him if I could play“Prelude in F” for him, and after I finished he didn’t say a word. I honestly thought it must have been bad. I was really nervous to play my compositions for other people, because it’s not like I was playing Mozart or Haydn or someone else’s music. If it was bad, then it reflected on me, not on someone else.

After a few moments of silence, he finally said through a broken voice, “That was really good. You really know how to bring the spirit into a room.”

I looked up at him and noticed his eyes were glistening. I had never seen him cry before, but whatever I just played on the piano made him do so. After that experience with Will, I felt inspired to continue composing.

Later that year (in 2004), after we’d gotten engaged, I wrote “Will’s Song”, which I later performed for him at our wedding reception (in 2005) as my gift to him.

Will and I on our wedding day – March 2005

After our wedding and honeymoon, we started our blissful newlywed married life off living in Portland, Oregon – where Will had just graduated from PSU with a master’s degree (and was job hunting), and I was teaching piano and also performing (on violin) with the Oregon Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra.

Again, I was still heavily involved in music, but I still yearned to do more. I wanted to branch off and do my own thing with my music. I was still new to composing, and certainly did not feel qualified or experienced, but I was learning as I went.

A couple of key things I had to figure out on my own were: 1) That composing music is a skill, just like playing the piano is a skill. You have to work at it to become better. 2) Playing music and writing it out in notation are two totally different things. Just because you can do one, does not necessarily mean you can do the other.

I once thought that I could just sit down and crank out a composition from my fingers. Like I said, that early venture ended up with a sad version of watered down chopsticks. I feel blessed that my first composition that one Christmas came to me like it did, but looking back I think it was God’s gift to me letting me know that it was in me somewhere to be able to do this. And I really struggled with writing the music down in the beginning. For the first time I actually had to stop and think about how you would write down certain things.

I’m convinced that I actually gained some additional brain cells while learning to notate music. I’ve seen and read music for almost 25 years, but never had to actually think about it and dissect it. It’s like knowing how to use a toaster your whole life, but then trying to take it apart and put it back together.

Will eventually found a job in Seattle, and we moved there (where we have been ever since). I was actually very happy about that, since Seattle was my hometown. After we settled in our new apartment, I quickly got back into composition-mode. I also got my old job back at the Seattle Symphony in the education department, but on a part-time basis, working a few hours here and there when I wanted to.

As I continued to write more and more music…

I started getting requests to record my compositions and give them to people. I also received requests to perform my compositions at house parties, small concerts, etc. I only had a Kawai CN-270 keyboard at the time (which fit perfectly in our tiny newlywed apartment, by the way). Will was able to figure out how to run an audio cable from my keyboard to our computer and record my songs. No midi whatsoever, and nothing fancy at all.

These were very rough and humble recordings on my part, and I was just figuring things out as I went. I certainly never started out on this venture with the notion of “I’m going to record albums and share my music with the world someday.” But as time went on and as I wrote more and more music, many people would come up to me and say, “I would love it if you would record a couple of songs down and just burn it to a CD for me so I can listen to it in my car”,or “I want to play your music for my grandchild to inspire them to practice more.”

There has always seemed to be a higher purpose with this, and I’ve been blessed and lead in directions that brought me to the point of doing this what I now do with music.

Towards the end of 2005, I decided that I would record an album. My mother just happened to be recording her debut album as well and so I was fortunate enough to sit in with her on many studio sessions. Her album was being produced by Paul Speer, Grammy Award nominated artist and producer, and also enlisted a talented group of artists such as Nancy Rumbel herself (remember, the artist(s) who inspired me to compose in the first place).

I learned a great deal by watching these professionals, both on the engineering side as well as the recording side. I attended many of my mom’s recording sessions and felt like a wide-eyed child. I took many mental notes, did a lot of research on my own about what I would need to have a home studio of my own. I eventually traded that audio cord that ran from my keyboard to my computer, for a MIDI cord. I also got a 2nd keyboard (a Kurzweil PC88) that had some advanced features that I would need in order to use the more advanced studio softwares that I had purchased.

I was also fortunate to come across Zak Dewey, a talented studio engineer and artist, who helped me with the making of my entire album for recording to mixing. After many hours recording in the studio (both his and mine), mixing, writing orchestra parts, vocals, etc…the album “Key of Sea” was born.

Me at Zak Dewey’s studio mixing a song.

This debut album was basically a collection of the best songs I had written up to that point. It was raw, it was honest, and it was just me. At that point, simply making that CD was a huge accomplishment for me. It was one of those things I wanted to do just to be able to say I had done it. Had it been a few years prior, I would have laughed if someone were to tell me that I would be releasing a CD, let alone all of it being my own compositions.

Me on the beach near Seattle, getting some shots taken for the  artwork for Key of Sea. (Above: Will, me, and Erika Nisbet. Below: Will and I)

Since the release of Key of Sea, I have continually been amazed (and astonished) at the positive response it has received by so many fans and other artists. Many of the songs from that album have gone on to win awards, accolades, be included in films, used for dance competitions, wedding music – just to name a few things.I have also been so lucky to meet so many other talented artists as well.

Apparently I found my place in music.

After that album release, I wrote many single tracks as I continued to discover my own sound and style. I wrote the song “Fly Away”, which honestly was one of the easier songs I had written to that point, and yet has gained so much In popularity I am continually completely blown away. Nothing will cease to amaze me. That song went from being used in a few random indie films, to winning three 1 st places prizes on ourstage.com, a 1 st place prize in the Swan Lake Moving Image and Music Awards, to being used as the promo song for the 2009 World Volleyball Championships on NBC Universal Sports.

The year after my CD release was full of concerts and collaborations. I performed to a sold-out show in Bellevue, Salt Lake City, Idaho Falls, as well as in my hometown of Seattle (and got to perform at my old stomping grounds at Benaroya Hall).

My concert in Bellevue, WA (CD launch concert) – April of 2007   My Dad (Ron Southworth) at my CD launch concert

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Me at my favorite piano, a 10 foot Fazioli, after my Salt Lake City Concert – Nov of 2007

 
Me during my Seattle concert at Benaroya Hall – Dec of 2007

And then shortly thereafter I took a much needed hiatus because…In June of 2008, Will and I had our first child – a little redheaded baby boy whom we named Preston. Transitioning into motherhood after 31 years of not being a mom, was, definitely exciting, beautiful, but also challenging. I had found it difficult to write music while I was pregnant, or perform for that matter. (I did do concerts up until I was about 4 and ½ months pregnant and then stopped after that.) And trying to find the time to do any music with a newborn in the house was also difficult.

Trying to find some time to practice while being a new mother

My little maestro, when he was around 7 months old

My family (Will, Preston (age 1), and I) – June 2009

Funny enough though, eventually it was out of that period and transition in my life where I was able to create again.

After many sleepless nights with my newborn son, I was outside taking him for a walk in the stroller and the idea came to me that I could do a lullaby album. I’d already been making up little songs on the piano for Preston to sleep to. After a long brainstorming session with myself and a jogging stroller, I got on my cell phone and called my mom and asked if she wanted to do the album with me. About a year later, in the Fall of 2009, my mother and I jointly released a lullaby album, called The Lullaby Album (I know, creative name right?). This time, we had a roster of very talented musicians collaborating with us, including the producing/engineering skills of Paul Speer once again, pianist/orchestrator Jace Vek, and vocalists Jillian Aversa (Goldin) and Lori Cunningham.

 
The album has been received very well! It has received the highest of positive praise and reviews from critics so far, and has also been included on Kathy Parson’s “Top 20 of 2009” list (Kathy is a well known reviwer of piano music). It also qualified for nominations for the NAR (New Age Reporter) Awards for Best Instrumental/Classical categories, among others.
I hope that the music has found a special place in the hearts of many parents and children out there. I know it will always have a place in my heart, as does the period in my life does when I wrote the music. My mother and I produced that album with the intent that adults would enjoy it too. As a new mom, I found that there were far too many “kid albums” with highly annoying sounds and jingles that were not very condusive for parents to listen to. Hence the reason why we made this album in 2 formats – one that is just solo piano for the kids (simple, easy to tune into), and another cd that is all orchestrated and has much more dynamic power to it (for the adults).
In 2010, while pregnant with our second son, I finished my first film score for a short film called “Minuet”. I finished the score just 2 weeks before I went into labor.  It was certainly not an easy task, but well worth it.  We welcomed our 2nd son, Taylor, in August of 2010. Afterwhich I was not-so-privledged to spend another week in the hospital from having pregnancy-induced pancreatitis and pre-eclampsia.  And that was after just having had a C-section as well.  I can tell you that I will never take my good health for granted ever again.

47554_438974618424_4911795_n(With Taylor – 2 weeks old)

47254_439804488424_6790580_n(with both of my boys – 2010)

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And if life with one kid wasn’t already busy enough – adding a second one to the mix has made it even more exciting.  As I am currently updating this bio (Sep 2016), Taylor is 6 years old, and Preston is now 8, and Riley (our most recent (and last) addition) is 2. He is You can read about his birth here.

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Most Current family photo…(Taken March 2015)

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So we are pretty much up to the here and now…

In 2012, I released a 4-year long album project called “Illumination”, which ended up winning multiple awards.  I don’t want to bore you with the details, so if you would like you can read about all of those accolades from my Wiki page here.

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In November of 2015, I released my 4th album called “Winter Symphony”.

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It does take me longer to record than a lot of other artists that I know (with having three little ones), but I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else’s.  And the growth I experience in my music as I let time peculate my ideas is just the key ingredient which I feel makes my music a feeling of accomplishment for me.

I’ve been writing a series of blog posts about each of the songs from Illumination, called “Diary of a Song”.  So if you would like to know more about the music on that album, you can check those posts out here.

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476886_10151377338651689_1886814478_o(At the 2013 IMC Awards in Hollywood, where I won Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Best Classical Artist, Best Soundtrack Artist, and more)

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945226_10151398598136689_1004522952_n(At the ZMR Awards in New Orleans, where I was nominated for Best Neo-Classical Album)

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I was also so honored to be able to perform the title track from my new album with the Evergreen Philharmonic in concert…

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In 2013, I filmed the music video for “Illumination”…

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Performed at Benaroya Hall with Grammy-nominated violinist Jenny Oaks Baker

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And most recently, we (my husband and I) decided to make my music the focus and it’s now a family effort, which you can read about the news in detail here.

Also I recently launched my Patreon campaign in September 2016 in order to help me get support and funding to produce more music videos.  You can support me here.

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So many other things have happened since I originally wrote this “story” of my career, including performing at Carnegie Hall, performing my original music LIVE with the Ensign Symphony and Chorus at Benaroya Hall in Seattle, and so much more. If you would like to stay up to date, PLEASE do sign up for my newsletter which you can do on my website at the bottom of the home page.

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Also – be sure to follow me on your preferred social media as well.

Thanks for reading. I realize you could have spent the last ten minutes doing a number of other things other than reading this incredibly long bio, and you truly deserve a gold star.  I’m really grateful to you and anyone who has spent ten minutes on me in some way.  I do treasure it and appreciate all the love and support I receive. ~ Jennifer

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32 responses to “My Story

  1. Jennifer,
    I came across your music for the first time tonight while listening to Pandora with one of my favorite artist channels, Keiko Matsui and your Key of Sea shuffled into the mix. I immediately sat down to enjoy your composition. Very lovely. I created a new Pandora channel to listen and enjoy your music.

    Many Blessings,
    Torin Dixon

    • Thank you so much Torin – I appreciate your lovely remarks and for taking the time to stop by and tell me that you are enjoying my music and also how you found me! Many thanks to you. 🙂 – Jennifer Thomas

  2. I came across your music too through Pandora! Wow- you are blessed and are a blessing to those whose music fills the ears of. Thank you for sharing your God-given talents to His creation b/c you have made it just a bit brighter through your musicality.

    • Hi Beth – thank you SO Much for your comment. You are so kind – and really made my day. Thanks so much! My very best to you. – Jennifer Thomas

  3. I’m thirteen, and one of my piano playing friends has a piano playing sister who was playing A Beautiful Storm when I went to stay the night at their house. I instantly fell in love with it, and had the sheet music within the week. I can play it by heart now, and it is by far and away the most amazing piece I’ve ever played. I just want to say thanks; since then, I’ve listened to all your songs about thirty times each and am completely in love with your compositions. Thanks for being such an inspiration to me!

  4. Jennifer, Just finished listening to the clips of your new CD. WOW!! I can’t wait to get it and add it to my ipod. Your music brings me much peace to my life when I listen to it. Thanks soooo much!!!

  5. Hi Jennifer!
    I came across your music on Pandora while listening at work. The song that made me fall in love with your music is “You By My Side”. It is an absolute gorgeous piece!! I used to play piano as well when I was younger. I was involved in a car accident when I was 15 and it ultimately ruined my wrists. It was so painful to play piano again after that. But I want to buy your sheet music for this song so I can “try” to play it, it’s so gorgeous I have to try… Thank you so much for your inspiration to make me want to try to sit at a piano again.
    God Bless!
    Christina

    • You are so kind Christina, thanks so much for telling me this. I really appreciate it! I wish you the best of luck practicing and getting back into piano when your wrists permit it! All the best – Jennifer

  6. Hey Jennifer!
    I came across you while I was listening to Pandora too! And I noticed that you were modest and (and thought maybe you might be Mormon) so I looked you up. My inkling was proved true when you mentioned you went to BYU Idaho. I’m Mormon too 🙂 And I can’t wait to get to BYU! But you are incredibly talented. I love finding someone inspirational and talented and learning they are also Mormon, its just a wonderful feeling. So thank you muchfully 🙂 You’re little boys are just adorable, they are around the same age as my little brothers. You are incredibly talented.
    (Oh and I really like your hair!)
    -Adelynn 🙂

    • Thank you so much Adelynn – I appreciate your very kind comment! Yes I am Mormon – proud to be. 🙂 Thanks for discovering my music and nice to “meet” you. Best of luck with your own music as well…- Jennifer

  7. I will be honest, I enjoyed your music when I fist heard you. in 2003 with Key of Sea. Nobody know who you were but we all were in rapture. I was an oddball in my family who listen to all types of music Dirt oldies good, modern rock and classical also good, rap well I respect that. I listen to classical and instrumental when I was a teen. Not sure how or why but the dynamic mixes of should and combinations resonated better than any music I knew of. And then I heard your music. Not only does it cover everything I love, It reinvented me and my musical preferences. Pure was the first song I heard on Pandora and I bought your album that moment before your song finished. Never felt better about spending money. Reading your bio and learning your music’s spirit makes every day that much better. and this is the first day I found your blog, had to say something. What really surprised me and shocked me about your music is my nephew who is autistic cried with a smile on his face when he listened to Release. I can never repay you for that nor can my sister. Thank you for your god sent music. God bless you.

    • Richard,

      Thank you so very much for your comment. I really like to hear where people discover my music, and it sounds like you have along the journey with me and my music from the very beginning of my career. Thanks for that. It brought a big smile to my face that I was able to help your nephew. Wow. that really made my day to read that. Thank you for telling me that. Thanks again for your lovely remarks – I treasure them.
      Jennifer

  8. Hi Jennifer,
    I have discovered you a couple weeks ago on a “Galaxy local cable music channel”
    on t.v. Beautiful music. I came to the computer and ordered “Illuminator” right away for my wife ( and me ) for Christmas. Well I gave it to her early. It is wonderful from the first track on. We are in Barrie, On. Canada. We would love to see you in concert. Not easy to travel with kids. We have grandkids. I love lullabies. Are they new one written by you?

    Pete

    • Hi Pete – oh thank you so much for your kindness, and leaving me such a great comment. I’m so happy you and your wife are enjoying my music. Would love to come and perform in Canada one day. You are actually the 2nd person to tell me that this week! All my very best to you.

      Jennifer

    • Thanks Pete – I’ve actually got several solo piano tracks. 🙂 I think my heart lies with the orchestrated music, but there is always room and a time for solo piano as well.

  9. Dear Jennifer,

    I begin each morning with yoga and meditation, using the Soundscapes channel on Comcast as background music. Normally I have the TV off and I just listen to the audio. But every so often I find a piece so enchanting that I turn on the TV long enough to learn the artist and title. I’ve discovered some wonderful pianists/composers this way, including Joey Curtin, John Fluker, and Jennifer Zulli.

    This morning I heard a song for which I had to know the title and artist. It was Across the Starlit Sky. I made a mental note of it and after my meditation and breakfast I logged on to your site and basically have spent the whole morning listening to your music, watching your videos, and reading your blog. You are very generous to share the gift of your music and your story with everyone. I will certainly be buying your music and I have already started recommending you to friends. Thank you, and God bless you.

    John

  10. Wow! I came across your name by way of surfing The Piano Guys’ website. I was reading the comments on one of their videos and an old roommate of yours mentioned that if I loved them, then I would love you! She was so right!!! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful talent with the rest of us! I too went to BYU in Idaho, I hope you loved it as much as I did. Thank you for bringing to Spirit to wherever your music is played.

  11. Oh Jennifer; thank you for my Gold Star.
    I chose to take the long road and read your detailed Biography. I have listening to piano music by various artists for 6 straight hours on Pandora. There are many great artist out there as I found out. I noticed after listening to many – many artists that the male artists seemed to be more fluid and romantic in style and presentation. As I laid in bed listening to the different artist – I was suddenly moved emotionally by a song that came up and picked up my iphone to see who the artist was. It was you playing You By My Side from the album Key of Sea. I must have listened to at least 20 songs and none moved me as much as You By My Side. You could feel the emotion coming within your emotional output as you played. Like your life story when Will’s eyes glazed. I am 71 years young and took piano lessons when I was 10 yrs old. We lived in the country and took care of my dads race horses. I always lived being outside in the country. We had a Knabe baby grand piano and I would play by ear. I played the piano because the sound reminded me of natures beauty. I am taking guitar lessons now and it is very difficult. I have always wanted to be able to play the piano and the guitar but never made the sacrifice.
    God Bless. You are truly an Artist and thank you for sharing your hard work and dedication experience.
    Dave Skinner- Collierville, Tennessee.

  12. Jennifer! I don’t even know how I came across your music, but it is EXACTLY my style!!! I adore it!!! I’m a professional classical crossover soprano, and have been wanting to release an album myself for some time now. Your music is becoming highly inspirational as I arrange and contract songs. But for now, my album (debuting this fall) is mostly just covers of other classical crossover artists like Sarah Brightan, Josh Groban, Celtic Woman…

    I absolutely loved your story and am learning so much from your work ethic and experiences.

    Perhaps someday we will work together! I’ll be sure to send you an album once it is completed!

    Thank you for your story and your absolutely epic, sweeping orchestrations! They are perfectly stunning!!!

    Sincerely,
    Sarah Timm

  13. Jennifer,

    I came across your music within the last week listening to Pandora. Your Sonata Minoré from your Illumination album is absolutely magnificent – I can’t get enough of it!! I can’t wait to keep listing to more of your music. Thank you for sharing your talent with the world!

    Sincerely,

    Megan L.

  14. Truly…it is like God speaking through your music…I could not help the tears and range of emotion I felt listening to your work.
    Thank you!

  15. Jennifer, I also found your music on Pandora and now listen quite often. Mesmorizing, beautiful, inspired! 🙂 My 16-year-old piano student is working on ‘Etude for a Dreamer’ (our favorite one so far) now and just loves it!! It is inspiring her to practice even more, which I’m excited about. I wanted to ask if you have ever considered adding some fingering for your pieces. I think that would help the younger ones as they’re learning. Just a thought. Thanks again for sharing your beautiful music with us. Big fan here!

  16. Your inspirational music has now become truly international, gaining fans from even remote parts of the world. I’m from the UK and and only too glad to spread the word and see you blossom year on year.

  17. Jennifer,
    I am yet another music lover who heard your music pop up on Pandora (Secrets). I immediately switched over to Spotify to hear the entire album (Illumination). I will now be ordering that album and possibly others. Your music is beautiful and refreshing, both exciting and calming to my spirit. Thank you.

  18. Illumination literally saved my life. Thank you so very much for writing it. I know that God was with you when you wrote that piece, just like God was with me when I heard it. Please know that your music was my miracle and thanks to God, you, and your music I am happily here to continue to listen to it.

    • WOw, Gabrielle! This really touched me. I am not sure what your story is, but whatever it is, I am just grateful that my music had any small piece in helping. That is what this is all about. THANK YOU for telling me this! I wish you all the very best – Jennifer

  19. I, like many others, first heard you at Pandora, but your work is so hypnotic, complex, emotional and melodic that I kept feeling the other artists were interrupting you. So I bought Illumination to download. I write web content as a part-time job when I’m not teaching, and your music is so perfect to not only to clear my thoughts, but to inspire and uplift me as I write. You are not saccharine, you are not flowery, but you are clearly passionate about your music, have power in your hand and a multi-layered mind in your head. My favorite is Beyond the Summit, but I really love all your pieces for their richness, their rising and falling, their deep interwoven melodies. Many thanks for many lovely moments.

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