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

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

New Orleans-based Water Seed joins Shawna Renee inside the "Soul Lounge" where they introduce listeners to their latest album, a wonderful fusion of jazz, soul and rhythm & blues. The group also explains how the heart of New Orleans influences each of them as musicians and songwriters.