Above: Jennifer Harper
Plenty goes on when Jennifer Harper gets in front of a microphone. “I’ve come to a place where I am not only comfortable performing but feel it’s part of my mission as an artist to inspire others to overcome their fears, and [feel] the freedom I experience from being truly in the moment,” says the Stamford resident.
Harper’s debut EP, “All the Love,” was released in 2015, and she’s performed locally, including at The Fez, to support it. On her debut, the classically trained pianist fuses a folk-pop sensibility with the introspective storytelling of Carole King, Simon & Garfunkel and Cat Stevens. But if her influences are varied, her animating inspiration is singular. “I’ve always been sentimental,” she says. “I’ve always been able to step back and view things with a soundtrack. …[It] helps me see my life as a story.”
That’s evident in Harper’s narrative line of songwriting, and even her recent playlists. (David Bowie, Motown, Annie Lennox, and Enya are among her favorites.). The song that truly resonates, however, is her own “Not Alone.” “I know it reaches people in a profound way,” she says. “I’ve had people come up to me crying, and grateful, sharing their losses.”
One loss in particular proved to be a motivating force. “When my father passed away, I developed a sense of urgency,” she explains. “He always encouraged me. I promised myself to get my music out into the world in his honor.”
This became a balancing act, she notes, but it was through compassion and a sense of mission that Harper turned her struggles into opportunities. “I have to be able to express myself. It’s not a luxury. It’s a necessity.”
That necessity also birthed invention at a formative time, when Harper’s love of music yielded an understanding of how to overcome issues with performing live. “We make the story of our lives. I’m continually rewriting. I do believe in the power of words, and that they have direct effect.”