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 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: part jazz, part indie-pop, part quirky cabaret with 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 some of the most innovative compositions of the day. She has the ability to deliver intricate 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 to words, or felt alone in. Something incredibly personal becomes universal.”
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 (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 The Public Theater/Joe’s Pub, and created ESTUARY: an artist | mother story through this commission. To learn more about ESTUARY visit ESTUARYTHESHOW.COM.
Photographer: Shervin Lainez
Hair/makeup: Laura Mitchell