News / Arts & Entertainment

Jenny Scheinman Showcases Vocal Compositions on 'The Littlest Prisoner'

Jenny Scheinman's "The Little Prisoner" CD
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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."