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Jamie Leonhart was born in New York City, the granddaughter of a cantor and the youngest of three musically-curious children. She began studying the violin at age three and singing soon after. Her first composition was written at age seven, a Beatles-inspired ditty entitled, “But I’m a poor man now.” Jamie’s inspiration to find her own voice began in her early teen years while singing in a vocal jazz ensemble, and at home foraging through her older brother’s expansive and eclectic record collection. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Barnard College, Jamie continued her musical journey: leading bands, singing as a soloist with the New York Metro Mass Gospel Choir, and performing as a solo artist at prominent New York venues such as Rockwood Music Hall, the Living Room, and Joe’s Pub.
Leonhart explores a new hybrid of popular music with nods to the Great American Songbook, indie-pop, quirky cabaret, and a soupçon of torch song to round it out. Live, her audience becomes a collective co-conspirator as she intones her confessions, dissatisfactions, and desires, supported by arrangements that move from somber to playfully bombastic in a moment. Jamie’s approachable demeanor hides powerhouse vocals and intricately innovative compositions. She has the ability to deliver complex melodies with warmth and simplicity.
As a songwriter, Jamie writes about love, vulnerability, patience, frustration, shifting perspectives and trust. “I try to write about the truth — the truth about being uncomfortable, fitting in or not fitting in, and addressing and sometimes accepting flaws and faults,” Leonhart says. “A lot of my music explores that: the human condition in its most basic form. The more specific I am with my lyrics, the more I hear from people that a song really ‘spoke to them’ — that I captured the sentiment that they were struggling to put into words, or felt alone in. Something incredibly personal becomes universal.”
A decade has passed since singer/songwriter Jamie Leonhart released The Truth About Suffering and this spring signals the joyful rebirth of the same themes within a new perspective.
Drawing comparisons to the likes of Norah Jones, Feist, Madeleine Peyroux and even Sarah Vaughan, the sharp-witted chanteuse Jamie Leonhart is an artist who refuses to be categorized, dynamic in emotional range and diverse in genre-crossing ability.
Jamie Leonhart manifests The Illusion of Blue, a collection of songs inspired by her deep connection to nature, language, and harmony. This recording conveys Leonhart’s journey over the past ten years. Storms, winds, flora and fauna, estuaries, and oysters populate the material. She visits a recurring theme of the sea for succor and inspiration.
Some of the material on The Illusion of Blue is sourced from "ESTUARY: an artist|mother story," Leonhart’s one-woman musical narrative, including the title song which compares the mother|artist relationship to the fresh water|salt water ebb and flow of an estuary, and the critical need to achieve balance within these systems. Other songs, like "Wash Over" and "Pearl" explore change and challenging events through natural occurrences. "Wash Over" was written on the West End of Long Island in the middle of a strong winter storm that threw waves up onto the plate glass windows and errant logs into the pilings of the hotel. "Pearl" compares the irritating struggle of an oyster creating a pearl with the end of a painful relationship, and the beauty that can come out of both.
This performance celebrates the release of The Illusion of Blue with a large ensemble directed by Michael Leonhart.
Jamie is employed as both a commercial voiceover artist and vocalist (Lifetime, Trulia, Kohl’s, Betty Crocker, Neutrogena brand, Tresemme, Johnson & Johnson) and also works extensively as a background and session singer (Steely Dan, Donald Fagen, St. Vincent, Judy Kuhn, Paul Brill). Jamie's debut record, The Truth About Suffering was released on Sunnyside Records. Jamie is a 2015 commissioned NEW YORK VOICES artist of Joe’s Pub, and created “ESTUARY: an artist | mother story” through this commission.