If you detect something expansive and mysterious in the music of Jenee Halstead, a freedom that owes no debt to place and time — or even genre — you understand where she’s coming from. And where she’s headed ... deeper into the essence of song.
Her evolution from folk singer to ethereal rocker mirrors her journey from the West Coast to the East. As a youngster in Spokane, Washington, Jenee followed the lead of hippie parents and explored music freely. She heard something in it all — from medieval choral works, to Led Zeppelin to Dolly Parton — and it tugged at her, even as she earned her degree at Gonzaga.
To build on her personal, almost-secret songwriting, Jenee moved to Boston, where the seeds for many of her influences were planted. While Berklee College of Music was part of the allure, the academic approach turned her off, and away. “They make everybody use a laptop,” Jenee says, lamenting that mechanical method. “I thought, ‘Bob Dylan didn’t write “Blowin’ in the Wind” on a laptop! I don’t need this.’”
As it turns out, all she needed was a few nights with the working musicians in Cambridge’s basement Bohemia, Lizard Lounge — and an introduction to Patty Griffin, with whom she startlingly shares a vocal quality and artistic bent. “Patty Griffin was a complete revelation,” Jenee says. “It just opened up a whole new world to me. ... Patty Griffin gave me permission to just write.”