As we head toward the end of spring and gear up for summer, it's the perfect time to introduce you to Jenn Summers (no pun intended). The singer-songwriter plays the kind of upbeat music that you'd listen to on that trip to the beach or that long drive to a vacation spot, and she's just released her EP Catching Fireflies. BFTV spoke with Jenn recently to discuss her new music - and what gives her that great attitude.
"The CD is very different than the last CD [When Life Gives You Lemons]. And I kind of used the mentality of the last CD to get through this CD," Jenn explained. "I want [listeners] to know I'm someone who likes to kind of deal with things and look at the bright side and get through it.
"That's what I want people to know about me in any scenario. I'm a heart disease survivor, and I've been well now for over 10 years. But ever since then I've kind of had the mentality of making happy, soothing music to help me get through things."
Her sound is also unique because she plays an instrument you don't often hear in popular music: the ukulele. How did that happen? "I feel like it's kind of making a comeback. And I am awful at playing the guitar," Jenn laughed. "So one of the writers on my last CD taught me how to play the ukulele."
After meeting producer Jason Spiewak and joining his songwriting group, she found herself penning a song a week on the ukulele, and it's just stuck. "A lot of people think I've been uprooted at birth or something," she added, "and I totally was born in Brooklyn, raised in New York."
If you want to hear what we're talking about, look to the top of this article to check out Jenn's first official music video from her previous album, a nod to beach party movies that features said ukulele.
Catching Fireflies has a lot of emotion in its tracks, because Jenn was going through several challenges as she put the record together. "One of the songs ['Back To Where We Started'] I was writing with my friend Andrea Nardello, and in the middle of that session, I got a call that my cousin had passed away. She was very young, she was 25, and she died of cystic fibrosis. It was very sad."
That wasn't the only thing she overcame. "I had a really bad breakup last summer and we were together for eight years. I really did not want to do anything," she continued. "And two weeks after the breakup I went to Nashville to do some writing for this CD." That resulted in 'Second's Not For Me,' which she calls her "hardcore breakup song."
We often talk about albums being reflections of their performers, but Catching Fireflies really is the saga of Jenn Summers in five songs. Not only in the tone of the record, or the content of the individual tracks, but in that it represents a bold step forward for the up-and-coming artist, who was once told she didn't have the chops to be a songwriter.
"I feel super-successful [already], because I wrote all the songs on this CD," she explained. "On the first CD, I was given a few of the first songs...so I think I'm most happy that I wrote every one of those songs and I'm still writing.
"My favorite thing about music now is the creation of music," she said. "Writing the songs on my simple ukulele, and then bringing them into the studio and creating this whole atmosphere." It's an atmosphere of positive energy and can-do attitude - exactly what you'd want to listen to on a (dare we say it?) summer day.