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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Pianist Myra Melford’s new CD “Life Carries Me This Way” features solo piano interpretations of drawings by modern artist Don Reich. She performs songs from the album, talks about turning art into music, and joins host Eric Felten in some Chicago boogie-woogie on "Beyond Category."