The Blues and Roots Music Blog featured Janie and the inspiration behind her record, You See This River.
Americana artist Janie Barnett new album release “You See This River”..stories of ambiguity and passion
Americana artist Janie Barnett recently released her album “You See This River” which reached the top 20 on Americana radio in its first weeks of release, and is on the first-round Grammy ballot in the following categories: Best Folk Album, Best American Roots Song (“Crazy Good Thing”) and Best American Roots Vocal (“Crazy Good Thing”).
“You See This River” is the result of Barnett’s long search for artistic authenticity. She has mined her experiences as parent, partner, artist, and social animal, presenting stories that are full of ambiguity and passion.
Recording artist Kenny White says of her work: “Janie turns the bumps, bruises, and joys of life into evocative and relatable songs…and makes it sound easy…which ain’t easy.”
Stream the album: https://www.youtube.com /playlist?list=PLCi2eb0eS-r6o0 Xe-eIoOvUE32cxOZI8o
A Virginia native, Janie Barnett cut her teeth on bluegrass festivals, church coffeehouses, and the American Folklife Festival. When she met iconic Americana barnstormer and Newgrass pioneer John Hartford at Folklife, so began her love affair with the alternate roots movement. One can see the roots of this renegade impulse throughout Barnett’s growing up. She defected from the local high school for boarding school, where, ironically, she found her tribe of outside-the-box musicians. She then defected from the Ivy League to play in a roots and reggae band in New Hampshire and Cambridge, and ultimately defected from the New England music scene to New York City. Barnett rose in the freelance world, making a name for herself as a smart, precise, and professional chameleon musician, singing on countless film, tv and commercial projects, as well as singing backup for iconic stars like Linda Ronstadt, Celine Dion, and Rickie Lee Jones. Appearances on SNL, The Today Show, membership in an elite session musician supergroup – these were the bookings of that time.
Barnett rose to become one of the top 20 session singer calls, while continuing her search for her own essential expression – the essential songs, the essential timbre, the core family of musicians. “I was also going through the long process of my marriage ending. My partner and I needed to set each other free in order to be ourselves. I recognized I had to own that process in the music.” Several collections of music were released through those years, but none Barnett felt had fully captured her authentic voice as a writer or musician.
“You See This River” is the culmination of Barnett’s years of searching and exploring, and living a life that many of us find ourselves living: “By trial and error we find ourselves, we retrieve ourselves from our own fires and folly. We poke and prod and with luck we find our authentic selves and stop looking over our shoulders. The renegade is part of my DNA in a good way, but it also played a role in running from myself. This record, these songs, reflect a period where I stopped running. So the stories reflect the process, and the sound reflects the result.”
Janie currently splits her time between Brooklyn and Boston, where she has been an associate professor at Berklee College of Music for close to 15 years.