“Forbidden Drive” is the first solo album by musical artist Jen Fellman who is making her Beach Café debut on Friday, March 20th, 2020. The album was produced by eight-time Emmy winner Michael Croiter and released by Broadway Records last fall. It’s sound is a distinctive mix of of jazz, standards, musical theatre and French chanson.
Poignant and beautiful, “Forbidden Drive” contains songs that map the journey of a romantic relationship from beginning to end, and the path from heartache to hope. Jen recently discussed this album and her singing career via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your love for singing and how did you develop your style?
Jen Fellman (JF): My parents brought all kinds of music into our house. They introduced me to old Hollywood musicals – Judy Garland and Doris Day – and took me to see live shows both at home in Philadelphia and in New York like Show Boat and Carousel. My dad was always singing and introducing me to songs he thought I would love – from Rodgers & Hammerstein, to Al Jolson, to Edith Piaf. My love for singing and for this music in particular began in those early childhood days and helped inform my style. I’ve also always followed Broadway’s leading ladies. They have been inspiring role models on this journey.
MM: Why do you draw so much inspiration from interpersonal relationships in particular?
JF: Interpersonal relationships have become a big part of my work because they are such a big part of my life. Perhaps it was growing up as an only child, but my family and friendships have always been extremely important to me. I think relationships with other human beings bring a lot of meaning to our lives. Exploring these connections, exploring love in my work is so exciting to me because it’s at the heart of what makes human beings so complex and interesting. It’s no coincidence so many songs are written about love and relationships in all forms. I’m inspired by the stories we share and I don’t shy away from sharing my own experiences. My relationships and experiences have helped me to sing with honesty, depth and heart.
MM: You blend a lot of music genres in your songs, so how would you describe your sound?
JF: Blending genres has helped me to express different parts of my identity. I am a classically trained soprano with a more Golden Age musical theatre sound. Because of that and my love for older music, sometimes I jokingly say I should have lived during the Golden Age 40s & 50s. I think there is something very old soul-romantic about my sound, though it can also have a darker hue. I lived in Paris for several years and was very much inspired by French language and French chanson. I’ve noticed my voice and expression change when I sing in French. In general, I try to embrace the genre that I am singing, but perhaps it’s the genre that takes hold of me and transforms my sound.
MM: What other relationships are explored on your forthcoming album?
JF: I had always wanted to record an album but was especially inspired after an important romantic relationship ended. The album indeed explores the journey of a romantic relationship from beginning to end, but more importantly, my relationship to myself, and my personal journey from love to heartache to hope. I primarily sing songs about love and identity. The journey that is invoked by the album title “Forbidden Drive” is as much about a shared journey, as it is about embracing my personal triumphs and sorrows, and my identity as an artist and a gay woman in today’s society.
MM: How did you find a producer/publisher and how have you gone about marketing this album?
JF: When looking for a recording studio, my music director and arranger Bob Goldstone had suggested I contact Yellow Sound Lab in the East Village. He had previously recorded there and recommended it highly. Michael Croiter, the owner of the studio, became my producer and lead recording engineer. His expertise and attention to detail helped make a high quality and professional album. We teamed up with Broadway Records Label to market and promote our work, and released the album in fall 2019 with concerts at Feinstein’s/54 Below.
MM: What can audiences expect from your live shows and have you any plans for music videos?
JF: My live performances vary from large to intimate venues, full band to piano accompaniment. Right now, I am enjoying sharing the music from the album in these concerts, but we always throw in a few surprises. Audiences can expect a passionate and personal experience. There are two short behind the scenes videos on Youtube about the making of the album: One features the single “Love Look Away” (Rodgers & Hammerstein), and the other a duet of the song “Happiness” (Stephen Sondheim) with Broadway singer Margo Seibert. I would love to develop additional music videos in the future.
MM: What projects are coming up for you soon and is there anything else that you would like to talk about?
JF: I will be performing at the Beach Café NYC on March 20, 2020 at 9:30pm with my Music Director and Arranger Bob Goldstone on piano and special Guest Vocalist Jacqueline Keeley. I’m also giving a “homecoming” concert in Philadelphia on May 30, 2020 at 8pm at the Manayunk Performing Arts Theatre at Venice Island – my first solo concert in Philadelphia in 10 years.
* * * * *
“Forbidden Drive” is currently available at www.BroadwayRecords.com. Here social media info is below:
YouTube: Jen Fellman