Suzie Brown CD Release, Jenee Halstead opens

August 03, 2017 8PM
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$20 / 0

“I still got stars in my eyes, I’m just looking at a different part of the sky.

In “Sometimes Your Dreams Find You,” Suzie Brown sings about reimagining your life’s path, and leaning into the unexpected turns. It’s a vivid, hopeful song, driven by Brown’s stirring voice that has been compared to Patsy Cline and Patty Griffin.

“Sometimes you don't know what's going to make you happy, you just have to be open to change and open to adjusting your dreams,” says Brown about what inspired that song, the title track of her newest album, due May 12. “What you think you will want at a certain time isn't necessarily what you end up wanting later.”

No one understands this more deeply than the Nashville-based singer-songwriter, who is also an Advanced Heart Failure/Heart Transplant cardiologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center--a job that sees her treating patients in urgent circumstances for two weeks at a time before devoting the next two weeks to songwriting and performing.

It’s a perfect balance that she’s found after years of working hard for success in the medical field, only to discover a relentless pull towards music that has now yielded five albums, a succession of songwriting awards, and featured placement of her music at retailers like Starbucks and the Gap. It also brought an invitation to TEDMED in 2015, where she debuted “Sometimes Your Dreams Find You” and spoke about unearthing a vulnerability through music that makes her a better doctor. That talk has led Brown to sing and speak at conferences around the country to help physicians approach their work differently.

Montreal-born and Boston-raised, Brown wrote her first song while in a research fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and launched her musical career in Philadelphia. In 2014 she moved to Nashville, where along with her work at Vanderbilt, she found a community of co-writers and collaborators that pushed her writing even further. She has since released Our Album Doesn’t Like You Either with her husband musician Scot Sax, and had two daughters, making her pursuit of balance and reflection all that much more important.

Sometimes Your Dreams Find You was born in that space of uncertain transition followed by confident calm.

 “I was in a creative rut because I hadn't been writing a lot while I was pregnant with my second baby and chasing around a toddler,” says Brown. “I was having trouble bringing myself to book co-writes because I was feeling so out of practice, and being in Nashville I felt a lot of pressure to be a superstar in every writing session. The more time went by, the more out of practice I felt and the more hesitant I got to write and it started a negative creative spiral.”

 It was, of all things, a book club meeting that turned things around. “I showed up just to hang out, because my second baby was only six weeks old and I didn’t even know what book we were supposed to have read,“ she says. “It was Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Her thesis is basically ‘artists make art,’ and we had this really inspiring discussion about making art without fear of failure. I started doing a song-a-week challenge with my friend Jenee in Boston over FaceTime, and it kick-started this new wave of creativity. The first song I wrote was ‘Everything I Need is Here,’ followed by a bunch of songs about what was going on in my life, which is being in love, and having a young family.”

That first song, she says, is “a response to my former self, who might think my life is so uncool now, never going out and having to get up early every day and living in a messy house full of toys and baby stuff. I know that’s how it might look from the outside, but from the inside it feels so magical.”

Another track, “This Much,” grew out of “those tender moments at four in the morning when your baby is just finally falling asleep,” she says. “You're overwhelmed with exhaustion but feel like your heart might explode out of your chest with love for the little tiny being in your arms.”

But Brown isn’t preoccupied with what has passed by, and she doesn’t feel the need to choose one part of herself over another. “For the first time in my life, I don't feel like I'm working towards something else,” she says. “When someone asks me what I want to do in five years, I kind of just want to keep doing this.”


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.”

And write she did. It took just over a year for Jenee to record and release a debut album, “The River Grace,” and, with it, claim an Emerging Artist award at the 2009 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. Indeed, the stylings on that debut made her a darling of the folk scene and won plaudits from Telluride and Mountain Stage. But, much like her coast-to-coast journey, Jenee Halstead’s evolution through her following three albums has been nothing short of revelatory.

Her latest release, “Edge of the World,” adds to the indefinable soundscape in which her soft and supple voice floats so exquisitely that the Boston Herald felt it “like sorceress music, rings of smoke through the trees and the bells of Rhymney,” while comparing Jenee’s working relationship with new producer Sean McLaughlin to that of Emmylou Harris and Daniel Lanois for the way it “embedded a tremendous voice in an otherworldly, shadowy soundscape.”

Spot on. With her gift for wonderfully evocative lyrical imagery, delivered with such a compelling voice, it’s easy to foresee that Jenee’s unfettered songwriting will continue to rise — like those swirling rings of smoke — into the expansive sky, and far beyond the edge of the world.


Please note that the seating chart has recently been updated, so be sure you are purchasing the seats you want.  If you do not purchase all seats at your table, other patrons may be seated with you.  Your ticket reserves you a place at the table you select but not a specific location at that table.  There is no food or beverage minimum.  All tickets are non-refundable.

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