Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeannie Caryn.
Jeannie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Honestly, the answer of how I got started isn’t as simple as it should be. Unfortunately, I let life (relationships, college, career, etc) take me away from music for the first part of my adult life. But then, in 2008, during a wicked divorce, and after years of musical silence, seriously not even listening to the radio for a chunk of time, I picked up the guitar again and started teaching myself how to play songs that helped me deal with the chaos in my world. It was very cathartic and good to push all of my anger into the struggle of learning chord progressions and shapes. So this is how I got started.
At that time, I had no idea I would someday make a career out of performing, especially with such a late start. In 2010, after two years of self-imposed isolation from the social world, a good friend of mine from work encouraged me to go out to an open mic, and on that first night, the owner of the venue booked me for a gig! I was both over the moon and terrified! I had never even performed in public before, had no experience gigging, and I had no PA. I did have a great song list as I had learned hours worth of material while struggling through my personal chaos, and my new friends in the music community– people I had met at the open mic who I was just in awe of, people like me using music to survive– were amazing and generous in helping me prepare for the gig. That first gig in June of 2010, had its complications, but it was the start of what is now an almost ten-year run, performing two to four nights regularly every week since.
To this day, I don’t read music—I play by ear and understand chord shapes. I don’t claim to be a great guitarist, but I have grown tremendously as a guitar player— learning on the job so to speak. And one day, I do plan to learn scales, pedals, and other fun guitar tricks; I know that it is all there just waiting for me. Luckily, I have been blessed with a strong voice, and that gift along with the support of the Atlanta music community has opened the door to what is now an amazing career as a performing musician.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
For me, it’s been like following the wind— I have been terribly lucky and blessed. I’d have to say confidence has been the greatest obstacle I have faced. Being self-taught and insecure with the guitar, I struggled early on as a performing musician with basic stuff— understanding the PA, losing timing when I became nervous, comparing myself to other performers/musicians, wondering how in the world I would entertain an audience when my soul felt dead inside, etc…
But the energy I felt from music, the ease with which I was able to join the music world and work in the music industry, spoke to me constantly as I was starting and still does today, telling me I am on the right path, and I am where I belong.
Sure, it was rough at times early on: I had to bounce back from awkward mishaps in songs, had to figure out how to manipulate the buttons on my PA to fit the environment of the venue each night without understanding why, had to learn how to push through paying bills, balancing the day-job and booking shows, had to balance the dual life of being a single mom and a musician, and of course, had to figure out how to handle the insecurity of just not feeling good enough.
Honestly, a lot of this stuff still hangs out in my brain today. But a quote from one of my favorite poets inspires me: “Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you” – Walt Whitman.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
Jeannie Caryn Music offers live music to venues, providing a wide variety of songs and genres to create an engaging atmosphere for patrons, and varying performance style to meet the needs of the establishment and or occasion (i.e., wedding, tavern, fine dining, etc.).
Within the music community, I am known as a singer/songwriter with an Americana style who writes about the realities of life—love, loss, joy, chaos, survival. But likely, I am more well-known for my work performing cover gigs. I often refer to myself as “Jukebox Jeannie,” and while there is a bit of self-deprecating humor there, I don’t say this negatively as many artists might.
At my gigs, I actually pass out a song list and let the audience decide what they want to hear me play rather than creating setlists for my performances based on my mood. This really works for the establishments I perform at, and it also really works for me because I like to know that the audience is not only passively enjoying the atmosphere of live music or the art I create, but that they are actively enjoying the evening.
When I am playing songs people have requested and I can tell they are really enjoying hearing them, causing folks to sing along or dance or even just tap on the tables, songs that move them, I feel authentically connected to them, as if together, we are creating special moments and memories, escaping reality together—Like maybe we are a part of something bigger than ourselves and despite our differences, in that moment, we are united, at peace, and at ease.
I am also truly amazed that I can create original music without formal training or really understanding the language of music— the songs just come to me. I must confess, however, that the songs I have written, even the upbeat happy ones, make me feel terribly vulnerable and just raw. I don’t really enjoy performing those near as much as cover songs, at least not yet. With my own songs, despite all of the metaphors, it’s as if I am introducing my inner self to listeners, sides of myself that I likely would not reveal, not right away anyway. But there it all is floating out into the air. It’s like saying “Look! I am naked. Please clap. Cheers!” But they do clap and invite me back to perform again and again. I must say that the relationships I have forged from sharing these songs and myself in this way with other musicians are incredible.
And I am truly excited and proud that I have finally started recording my own songs with the amazing, Grammy award-winning producer, engineer, and performer, Larry Mitchell, in his studio, The Chocolate Room, in Alabama. He is not only a brilliant producer and musician, able to hear, capture, and create the essence of my songs while celebrating my style, he is a kind soul and it is truly a joy and honor to work with him. If all works out with schedules and timing, I plan to have my first EP ready by December of this year, just in time for the holidays and will be starting a blog that follows my journey.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
There are so many moments—sharing a new song for the first time, hearing one of my songs produced, having one of my original songs requested, sharing the stage with other musicians, sharing my voice on the recording projects of other great songwriters, playing a song for a full room (usually a patio or deck), and finishing it to the entire room standing and dancing and clapping. I am so very lucky.
It is my belief that everything about my personal life has been necessary to make me the artist I am today—certainly, not all are fond memories, but life has given me great material for songwriting. I am very proud that I have found a way to celebrate life, memorialize emotions, and heal my soul through music. All to say, I don’t think I have one proudest career moment. I am very grateful for my journey, no matter where life takes me from here.
Last but not least, I am most fond, and beyond lucky and proud, to be the mom of two incredible young people and five furry children. Being their mom is just magical. They are best art I will ever create.
- Website: www.jeanniecaryn.com
- Phone: 4042198032
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeanniecaryn/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jeannie-Caryn-Music-170401332994487/?ref=bookmarks
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jeanniecaryn
Kirk Thalmueller, Larry Mitchell, Johnny Long, Dan Harr