Noteworthy Expo Alumni—Jennifer Marciano

Jennifer with Chuck Cannon, Al Anderson and Matt Scannell at the DSE

(L-R) Chuck Cannon, Al Anderson, Jennifer Marciano and Matt Scannell at the DSE

Genuine. That's what songwriter, teacher and ace-networker Jennifer Marciano is and that's what she talks about here...and it should probably be the title of one of her albums! —Jack Hayford,

Interview with Jennifer—Fall, 2007

J.H. Jenn, what was the first year that you came to the Durango Songwriters Expo?
J.M. June of 2004.

J.H. What's really cool and impressive about what YOU have accomplished is that you came the first time as a volunteer, right?
J.M. Yeah, I wanted to come but I couldn't afford it with the travel and hotel and I asked Jim [Attebery] if I could help out in exchange for the registration fee and he said, "come on down" [to Santa Ynez and the Wine Country Expo 2004].

J.H. I've been working with Jim on this event for about twelve years now...and you came in three years ago...and you kind of like run all of us now, how did that happen?
J.M. [laughs] Because I've worked with kids so much...

J.H. You mean we're all children? [laughs] Are songwriters a hard lot to work with?
J.M. No, no they're not, really. They're easier than the general population. It's just that there's a lot going on at one of these events...lots of people coming and going...many that haven't been to an event like this before...there's a lot of chaos and working with kids I can efficiently deal with that kind of thing!

J.H. So you come in and help organize the event as a volunteer and then we turn around and you're booking writing appointments for Al Anderson and Matt Scannell, and others? How did THAT happen?
J.M. Al had walked up to me in the lobby of the hotel and said, "you know, you really know how to stand out in a crowd...." And got up and walked away. And we became friends after that...and I was just moving to Nashville at the time and so Al and the others that I met at the Expo kind of became a built-in family for me when I moved.

J.H. And you've been booking writing sessions for Al and in exchange he's done a few cool things for you...
J.M. Well, he loaned me a beautiful Martin guitar and he's been helping me play better...and he invited me to go on the Delbert McClinton Sandy Beaches cruise!

J.H. That's such a cool cruise, what did you do?
J.M. I worked with Delbert's wife, Wendy, and helped to organize the two or three songwriter shows on the ship. It was easy and it was fun!

J.H. What writers were on the trip?
J.M. Jimmy Hall, Delbert, Marcia Ball, Jeffrey Steele, Al of course...Craig Wiseman, Paul Overstreet, Bob DiPiero...a big big roster of great songwriters. From 11:00 am to 3:00 am every day there's music! It was unbelievable.

J.H. You came out to the Expo as a songwriter, like everyone else, stepped in right away as one of our key organizers, and made all these great have so many things going have you done it?
J.M. Well, the way I figured it, instead of getting in there and playing my songs and that whole thing, I wanted to kind of get those relationships up and running so they had time to, you know, while those relationships were growing so was my writing...and I figured that at some point they would intersect...and they have...and that's beautiful.

J.H. And, in addition to all that, you're also a teacher...And music has played a role there as well...tell me about that.
J.M. Once I started making some progress with my songwriting career and started getting some placements of my songs in TV, I thought, you know, I want to get this rockin' and rollin' in my kids lives too. It sort of opened up my talking to them about what I'm trying to do as a writer, and what that means, and what success means...and talking with them about ways that they could make money with music. They had no idea you could make money that way. So we got started thinking about forming some kind of a music club. So one of our teachers sponsored a club called "The Positive Rap Group." And then the band teacher came in as a mentor and wrote a track for them to write lyrics to...and then a former student came in as a mentor. And then I called my friend over at Compass Records and I said, hey I want to bring these kids in, if they keep their grades up, and professionally record this rap song that they wrote...and so that's what we did and we took these five kids in the studio and they were awesome...

J.H. So their first recording experience was a good one?
J.M. Oh my God, they were unbelievable. You know in the daytime they are these hardened kids...because they have to be to survive...they come from really tough backgrounds...very much inner-city kids. But because we came through for them on this project and took them in the studio...and it came out was a very positive experience for them and for all of us and it's still a source of inspiration for those kids. I can't even explain to you how high those kids were in that studio for those five hours! And we took a bunch of pictures and made a professional looking album cover...and I issued a press release to the community.

J.H. And they all have copies of it?
J.M. Oh yeah, they all have copies...and we're continuing with projects like this and getting new kids involved.

J.H. Tell me about the recent song placements you've had.
J.M. A friend and co-writer of mine wrote a song called "Oxygen" for the O Network. Unfortunately it didn't get used for the O spot but it did get used on Animal Planet and Behind the Music, and a show called The Writers. I'm also working with an independent placement company out of L.A. called Lunchbox Music.

J.H. You've come a long way in the last three years...what would you say is the most important thing you've done or haven't done to get your career jump-started?
J.M. The biggest thing I would say that has worked for me is that I've never pushed my writing on anyone. I've just made friends and tried to help people and kept my eyes and ears open...and ultimately people ask me for my music. I knew that if I started pushing my music on them immediately they'd be over it...immediately. Relationships and writing both need an incubation period. And I can't overstate how important it is in this business to be genuine. You have to be very real. It's so important for you to approach people from a truly genuine place because THEY REMEMBER YOU FOR THAT. And that's the basis of my relationship with Al Anderson for instance. The main reason he [Anderson] has me set up co-writes for him is that I've never set him up with a bad one. If I feel that someone is not genuine in their approach to wanting to write with Al, I say, "I'll run it by him." It won't be like, "I'll set it up for you."

J.H. And because you have taken that approach you and Al will be friends forever.
J.M. Oh, of course and also...I have his guitar! [laughs]

Find Jennifer on MySpace.

About Positive Rap Group (PRG)

Ms. Carloyn Anthony started sponsoring the Positive Rap Group, PRG, at Stratford High School in 2004 with the intent that students focus on what’s right and good in their lives. The group was focused on healing and hope due to the numerous losses the students had experienced that year. In turn, the students encouraged and supported each other through hard times while creating positive rap songs. The chain of kindness of past PRG graduates continued with the help of former student, Jeffrey Johnson who mentored the class of 2007 PRG.

Mr. Mauricio Richardson was a powerful and positive role model who co-sponsored the group this year. Ms. Elliott-Johnson, Principal at Stratford High, was the visionary. Ms. Jennifer Marciano, a counselor at Stratford High School, arranged the studio experience, coached the students in-studio, set behavioral and academic goals for the students to meet before arranging the studio experience, and is seeking opportunities for the students to showcase their talent from Music Row industry professionals. Ms. Anthony not only acted as the group’s sponsor, but the wisdom, guidance and support she offered were integral in keeping the students focused on this project and on the positive mission og the PRG. Parents of the PRG participants are to be commended for their much needed support and presence. Ms. Merkerson, Freshman Academy Principal at Stratford supported the project from its inception.

Stratford High's PRG recorded “The Struggle, The Stress and the Pain” at Compass Records just off Music Row in May, 2007. The students wrote all of their own lyrics. Erick Jaskowiak and John Sohn donated their time to engineer the students’ project. The experience was inspirational for all those involved, especially the five inner-city kids that were so committed and worked so hard in preparation for their first studio experience. It was an incredible privilege to watch them live their dream for an afternoon. The students were true professionals. It would not have been possible without all of the love and support from everyone involved.

Listen to The Struggle, The Stress, The Painby PRG

Update 01.24.10

Good Morning Friends!

I'm so proud of my colleagues and kids at Glencliff High School! We are the "Channel 4 Cool School of the Week". Here is a video that goes to show you that with a lot of love, consistency, guidance and strong leadership, inner-city kids can do ANYTHING! I hope you got to watch us on TV this morning! The faculty danced to "Pants on the Ground" and it was HILARIOUS! Our drum line kicked butt, too! I'm soooooooooo blessed!

Love you,

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