Who is Jann Klose? Let’s find out more about this singer-songwriter, musician, “citizen of the world” who has a song on an album that has been nominated for a Grammy.
Barb WYEP’s Sunday Mix Host (WYEP): Jann thanks for taking the time to answer some questions via email for the WYEP Music Blog.
WYEP: You were born in Germany, raised in Kenya and South Africa, then went back to Germany, before going to Cleveland, Ohio as an exchange student. That’s quite a mixture of cultures. Is that reflected in your music?
Jann Klose (JK): Yes, I think it is... I've absorbed a lot of different kinds of music. From African roots music to American classic rock to European classical composers... keeps me from getting bored.
WYEP: Your song “Give In To This Life” is on a Grammy nominated (Best Spoken Word Album for Children) called “Healthy Food For Thought: Good Enough to Eat”. How did your song get chosen to be included on this compilation double-CD to be among such songs with titles like “Dirty Dishes”, “Sky Doodles” and “I Sailed on a Potato Chip Ship”?
JK: I knew Kevin Mackie, one of the team members involved with the project. I have another song on an earlier compilation, "Serenity House", that he had put together. When Kevin told me about the HFFT project I was eager to be involved again, it's such a great cause, one that I believe in from the bottom of my heart. The album raises money for the NY Coalition for Healthy School Food.
WYEP: Your debut CD “Enough Said” was recorded in Youngstown, Ohio and released in 1997. That seems to be far away from your roots, was it just the right time and place to make this first album a reality?
JK: I had just moved to Cleveland, Ohio and was getting my bearings on the music scene. I had sent out demos to various regional labels. One called 'Scream Records' - from Youngstown, Ohio - responded and I ended up working out a deal with them to record at their studios. I have been coming back to Youngstown ever since to play shows there whenever I'm touring though the Midwest.
WYEP: Your band members have varied backgrounds; jazz, orchestra, symphony, and chamber music. It’s not typical of a singer-songwriter to have an oboe, violin, flute and accordion as accompaniment. You also have arranged and produced some of your songs, including the strings. Are you trying to bring a more “classical” sound to your music when you perform?
JK: Not really... I just enjoy hearing instruments and textures in combinations I'm not used to. I've also been very lucky to work with musicians that are into picking up new instruments and just like trying stuff. Chris Marolf, who's been in my band for almost 8 years now just started playing the Kora, a West-African harp. We've been using it on the road a lot. I call it the Harp-to-go.
WYEP: I’ve had the chance to do email interviews with other artists who have gone the “fan funding” route – like Jill Sobule and Luke Brindley. Your CD “Reverie” was made with fan support and you are now raising money for your new album, The People Records Project. Please tell us more about that process and how well it’s been working for you.
JK: Well, we just started the fundraiser a couple of weeks ago and have – so far – raised $1200. It's amazing for me to see that there's that kind of support out there for musicians and artists. It's inspiring. It's always hard to ask for help but in this new paradigm of the music business, many, many bands have eliminated the middle man and have a much closer relationship with their fans. We still have a ways to go – so I encourage people to check out what we offer in return for a donation at peoplerecordsmusic.com
WYEP: Over the years you’ve had the opportunity to be around artists like Pete Seeger, Les Paul, Roger McGuinn, Rosanne Cash and Marty Stuart. What have you learned from these encounters with such seasoned performers?
JK: Well, all the artists you mentioned are very kind, hard-working people. I think sitting in with Les Paul and his band was the most humbling – and intimidating experience... his band is just so badass. I felt like a novice. But Les made me feel totally comfortable and at ease.
WYEP: Your music is being heard all over the world from the USA to England to Indonesia. What would you like those of us in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to know about you and your music?
JK: I love playing live more than anything... every show is a different experience for me. A lot has to do with the people in the audience and the venue, itself. A lot of my friends have played Club Cafe, including The Strawbs and Willy Porter. I'm looking forward to my first time there.
WYEP: Thanks for your time Jann!
JK: My pleasure. Thanks for a nice set of questions.
Jann Klose will be performing December 22 along with local songwriters Tim Ruff and Scott Schmitt.
Barb S. – Sunday Mix Host