News / Arts & Entertainment

Jenny Scheinman Showcases Vocal Compositions on 'The Littlest Prisoner'

Jenny Scheinman's
Jenny Scheinman's "The Little Prisoner" CD
Katherine Cole
Jenny Scheinman first gained national attention in 2003 as a jazz performer, when she was voted the #1 Rising Star violinist for three years running in DownBeat Magazine’s Critics’ polls. Today, she’s collaborated with artists ranging from Lou Reed to Norah Jones and has released eight CDs of her own. Scheinman recently released her second CD of mainly vocal compositions, "The Little Prisoner."

The songs on “The Littlest Prisoner,” Scheinman’s eighth record - but only the second to feature her singing - are ones she toured with before taking them into the studio. While she was impatient to make another record, she says, for her, it’s important to first try out the songs before an audience. And while it’s thrilling to play them in public for the first time, it’s also very challenging because her songs are often so personal.
 
“Things are half done until you play them for people," she said. "I get songs to the point where I think they’re probably okay, they’re probably good, but until I get a response and feel the character with a group of people in a performance, I don’t really know it.”
 
Jenny Scheinman Showcases Vocal Compositions on 'The Littlest Prisoner'
Jenny Scheinman Showcases Vocal Compositions on 'The Littlest Prisoner'i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

The songs on “The Littlest Prisoner” started as personal stories, but as they evolved, Scheinman says the characters took on lives of their own and stopped being about her. For example, she wrote the title track while she was pregnant and suffering from a very high fever. Unable to take any medication, she sat in an icy bath, hoping the cold water would bring her fever down.  “The Littlest Prisoner” was originally the baby trapped inside her feverish body. By the time the song made it into the studio, it was a totally different story.

“She’s a pregnant inmate and she’s speaking to her unborn child," Scheinman said. "She’s a toughie, she’s kind of raging at the world for the injustice of not being able to raise her child who will be taken away from the prison.  But she’s also funny. She’s also telling her child about her life, she’s giving her child advice, she’s saying ‘I hope my girl’s got good feet and not too much charm.’  Which is sort of a way of saying don’t get into the trouble that I got into, which comes out in the later verses.”

“The Littlest Prisoner” also includes three instrumentals featuring her frequent collaborators from the jazz world: guitarist Bill Frissell and drummer Brian Blade. They were tricky to fit into the album, Scheinman says, without diluting its focus.  She felt the tracks needed to be there, however, and describes them as “her chance to play.”

“When I’m singing, I have a hard time inserting myself into the song as well as a player," Scheinman said. "Because I feel like I’ve just been the sort of central lyrical focus. And to transfer then right into playing, I get tired of myself. But given a song that is just instrumental, it’s just such a delight to sail through those little melodies.”

Scheinman has two tours scheduled for this summer, one with Bill Frissell, the other supporting Bruce Cockburn.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”