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Monday, January 26, 2009

Review: Jennifer Grayson - New World/How Blue

Jennifer Grayson - New World/How Blue
2009, Jennifer Grayson

The line between classical music and popular music is a strong border entrenched on one side by popular mores and on the other by hundreds of years of history and tradition. It is rare for a classical musician to cross over into the popular realm because the discipline and technique required in classical music isn't valued in the popular realm. Nevertheless classically trained musicians do cross over to varying degrees of success. Jennifer Grayson is classically trained on both piano and voice, debuting as the principal soprano in nothing short of the Carmina Burana in Boston's Jordan Hall. She's studied voice at Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts and the New England Conservatory Of Music. Constrained by the classical music world, Grayson felt a desire to make her mark in the realm of popular music. Her performances have included modern interpretations of her classical music repertoire as well as updates of pop classics. Recently Grayson took the big step of releasing her first single in the digital realm. New World/How Blue combines expansive and subdued pop arrangements with an ethereal voice unlike anything in popular music.

Grayson puts aside the pop convention of singing from the throat and sticks with the voice she knows best: gorgeous tone and vibrato. Grayson's voice is haunting and beautiful. You may find yourself so entranced that you forget what she's singing about. The musical arrangements are smart, mellow pop/rock stuff; perfect vehicles to let Grayson due show her best side vocally. New World builds to a climax that gives us just glimpses of Grayson's full soprano range, climbing and building in intensity by half measures from start to finish. How Blue allows Grayson to soar into the higher altitudes of her vocal register. The song itself has an air of longing that's part melancholy and part hope, and Grayson delivers this mood perfectly.

Jennifer Grayson may have the most beautiful voice in popular music. The question from a commercial perspective is whether it may be too beautiful. Grayson delivers tone and vocal quality rarely heard on pop radio, but lacks the sort of vocal imperfections that tend to make a voice interesting or iconic in the pop world. There's definitely a market for a voice like hers in popular music, but it may be limited to the adult contemporary realm. That's not a problem, and we really hope Grayson doesn't try to sound more like a rocker girl, her sound is refreshing and will hopefully inspire more classically trained vocalists to jump the border into the pop realm. Grayson's first single is a wonderful introduction to an artist whom we hope will continue to add her voice to the pop conversation.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Jennifer Grayson at You can purchase her digital single New World/How Blue at iTunes or

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