North Carolina songwriter with "A voice of unblinking tenacity" -- NY Times. Creating at the crossroads of healing and activism.
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Jess Klein's music is one part grassroots social activism and two parts alt-country guitar rock” -- The Bluegrass Situation. Over two decades and 11 albums, Klein has pursued a remarkable creative evolution that’s seen her dig ever deeper for resonant emotional insights, while continuing to refine her eloquently melodic, effortlessly accessible song-craft. Her live shows explore the musical offerings of many styles - from rock n roll to folk to classic jazz standards. She shares songs of personal healing, growth and change with her audience, always leaving them moved, uplifted, and empowered.
Over two decades and 11 albums, Jess Klein—who possesses what MOJO calls “one of those voices you want to crawl up close to the speakers to listen to” has pursued a remarkable creative evolution that’s seen her dig ever deeper for resonant emotional insights, while continuing to refine her eloquently melodic, effortlessly accessible song-craft. Jon Pareles of The New York Times calls her “a songwriter with a voice of unblinking tenacity…who finds parables in the everyday and also finds humanity behind the archetypal.”
Klein has performed to rapt audiences at the Newport Folk Festival, Winnipeg Folk Festival, Fuji Rock Festival in Japan and packed houses in notable listening rooms like Joe’s Pub, NYC, The Borderline in London, Club Passim in Boston and Fogartyville in Sarasota, FL. She has appeared on Good Morning America and NPR’s All Things Considered and has toured across the US, Europe and Japan on her own and with such artists as Arlo Guthrie, John Fullbright and Carlene Carter.
The Rochester, NY native began writing songs as a college student in Kingston, Jamaica, and is known for staking out brave lyrical and musical territory with such albums as Wishes Well Disguised (1998), Draw Them Near (2000), Strawberry Lover (2005), City Garden (2006), Bound to Love (2009), Behind A Veil (2012) and Learning Faith (2014) which Folk Radio UK calls “Unquestionably the finest album of her impressive career.” Jess spent eight years soaking up the live music culture of Austin, TX. Bootleg (2015) Jess’s live, full band album captures the dynamism of Jess onstage, backed by some of Austin’s top players. Jess was named a 2015 Finalist in the highly regarded Kerrville New Folk Competition.
Jess's spoken word piece, Chicken Soup, written in 2017 after the Jewish cemetery where her grandparents are buried was vandalized, has received standing ovations at her performances across the U.S. and Europe and is slated for a special re-release in summer of 2022. Her 2018 song New Thanksgiving Feast, will be featured in No Depression's fall 2022 issue in an article exploring the complex relationship between Thanksgiving and the violent history of American agression against Native Americans.
In 2016, Jess and her husband, songwriter Mike June moved to tiny but vibrant Hillsborough, North Carolina where she recorded 2019's Back to My Green. Americana UK raved, "When bluesy, gospel-infused fires can be found in the same broad church as soothing, maternal words to the wise, then here is a singer- songwriter who has found not only her place in her world, but also one for all those new arrivals on the scene to look up to."
North Carolina has also proven to be fertile ground for a number of new collaborations for Jess, including singing Jazz & Great American Songbook Standards with her backing band, The Berlin Brothers, as well as The Halfbacks, a joint project with her husband Mike June, and most recently, joining North Carolina legend Jonathan Byrd on bass guitar and harmonies.
Jess is currently finishing her newest solo album, In the Arms of a Song, due out in late 2022.