Jamie Leonhart

New York, New York, US
Artist / Band / Musician
Indie / Jazz / Lyrical
Sunnyside Records
"THE TRUTH ABOUT SUFFERING" released January 29, 2008 on Sunnyside Records


What people are saying about THE TRUTH ABOUT SUFFERING:

".introspective, contemplative, melancholy and dreamy all at oncea consistently impressive outing from this New York City based singer/songwriter"

- Alex Henderson, ALL MUSIC GUIDE

Idiosyncratic singer-songwriters are so much in vogue right now that a free-thinking talent like Jamie Leonhart has a shot at mainstream crossover success. Leonhart's songs can be smart, whimsical or atmospheric, and her strong melodic sense and soulful feel can handle jazzy downtempo or folk-pop (imagine Feist, Laura Nyro and Corinne Bailey Rae on a bicycle built for three). Those who breathe heavily whenever Joanna Newsom strums her harp should note that Leonhart plays both the glockenspiel and the harmonium.

- Nick Dedina - RHAPSODY.COM (Jan 31, 2008)


With her debut album, The Truth About Suffering, the sharp-witted chanteuse Jamie Leonhart enters the world of a new kind of diva, dynamic in emotional range and diverse in genre-crossing ability.

Jamie’s lithe and lyrical, three-and-a-half octave voice wraps around universe in which Kurt Weill and Laura Nyro meet Alice in Wonderland in a dimly-lit jazz club, inhabited by woodwinds, strings, vibraphone, and exotic instruments like the glockenspiel, mellotron and harmonium.

Born in New York City, the granddaughter of a cantor, and the youngest of three musically-curious children, Jamie began studying the violin at the age of three and singing soon after. Her inspiration to find her own voice began in her early teen years while singing in a vocal jazz ensemble, and at home foraging through her brother’s expansive eclectic record collection. After graduating with a degree in English Literature from Barnard College, Jamie continued her musical journey: through leading a ‘pop’ band, to singing as a soloist in the New York Metro Mass Gospel Choir to performing as a solo artist at prominent New York venues such as Rockwood Music Hall, the Living Room, and Joe’s Pub.

Jamie writes about many things: love, vulnerability, perspective, patience, and trust. “These songs talk about the truth … the truth about being uncomfortable, fitting in or not fitting in, and addressing and sometimes accepting flaws and faults,” Leonhart says. “A lot of the tunes explore that: the human condition in its most basic form. The more intimate and specific I am with my lyrics, the more I hear from people that a song really ‘spoke to them’ – that I captured the sentiment that they were struggling to put to words, or felt alone in. So something very personal and intimate becomes universal.”


A brief personal description: I am a terrible tap-dancer, but a promising flamenco dancer (except not great at castanets.) I am great at details but sometimes miss the big picture. I am earnest. I love to read and draw, unless I feel uninspired or unoriginal. I love to sing.

A brief musical history (the nitty gritty): First documented live recording: age three singing the alphabet song. Began playing the violin that same year. Joined orchestra at the age of seven experienced serious bass and cello envy, particularly because the girls got to wear pants, instead of ankle length skirts.

First (un)documented theatrical production: Age seven: a two-girl re-enactment of A Chorus Line. No tits or ass to speak of, but a lot of verve.

I never got the solos in chorus that I wanted, like the intro to When You Wish Upon a Star in 6th grade. Finally at the age of 13 had my voice heard in a jazz vocal ensemble.

At 17, I figured out that I identified a lot more as a singer than a violinist, and gently put my violin into semi-retirement (coaxed with a drink and promise of beachfront property.) Sang all throughout college [while getting a degree in English literature] in clubs, dives and theatres, including a stint as a back-up singer for a group called Pet the Poodle. I was a poodette. Hmm.

Met up with an old friend on a trip to Nashville and began writing songs, the first of which won a prize in the first International John Lennon Songwriting Contest. This songwriting team flourished into a band called Methuselah Jones that I recorded and performed with for four years. I also had the pleasure of working with talented producers such as Pat Dillett (They Might Be Giants, David Byrne) and Rob Stevens (Yoko Ono, John Lennon Anthology.)

Going solo: By this time I was now performing as a soloist with the Metro Mass Gospel choir on the stages of Carnegie Hall and Avery Fischer Hall; was singing back-up with a handful of groups; and had begun to rekindle my romance with strings and orchestral arrangements. In search of creating my own version of pop music, I began leading a group under my own name in a style that many fans called chamber-pop-soul, and recorded my first solo ep area, that received praise from ASCAP Magazine and the Aquarian Weekly among other publications. Excited, but not yet satisfied, I was brought back to singing jazz and exploring my fascination with the hyper-theatricality of cabaret.

And now, here I am, straddling the line between jazz, pop (my definition, see above) and quirky cabaret, redefining and refining as I go along.

  I edited my profile with Thomas Myspace Editor V4.4 (www.strikefile.com/myspace)
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