As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Special Edition 2022 – I Belong
Jennale Adams is a poet and musician from Queens, New York. Her perseverance continues to open doors for her to leave her mark. She uses poetry as a runway for creation. Inspired by the music of Santana, Prince, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and many others, Jennale’ s guitar licks engulf the listener, giving way to the reminiscent sounds of the greats before her. Her grit from a young age pushed her to hone her craft, which is felt through her music. Inspired by many and inspiring many others, Jennale talks about the importance of other female-identifying artists seeing themselves and pushing through boundaries.
Where you are from, and what got you into music. What inspired you to pick up the guitar and learn how to play?
I was born and raised in Queens, New York. To be honest, music kind of found me. I’ve always wanted to play an instrument; lead guitar just happened to be the one that called out to me and made the most sense to me. I developed a love for music at a very young age. My dad had an extensive collection of records, so I always heard music playing around the house and on car rides to school. We would listen to artists like Sade, Prince, Michael Jackson, Lenny Kravitz, Anita Baker, Motown — anything and everything. I discovered my love for the guitar around 11 when my dad bought my first guitar, a black Mexican Stratocaster I had asked him to buy me for weeks. I was a timid kid, so I thought playing guitar would push me out of my shyness; I became devoted to studying guitar. I spent countless hours teaching myself how to play by watching Mel Bay DVDs and doing guitar workbooks. I was around 15 when I discovered Carlos Santana’s music; my love for his music immediately pushed me to begin learning how to play his songs. The first one I learned was “Black Magic Woman.” I realized at 17 that playing guitar became an obsession for me. I would listen to artists like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carlos Santana, and Joe Satriani for hours, practicing whatever licks or verses my ears could pick up. I would save money to purchase tab books to practice songs from the artists who sparked my love for guitar. Playing guitar helped me find myself at a young age; I always knew I wanted to be a musician. Playing guitar helped me understand myself when I felt no one understood me. I had a few tutors to help me get through some of the roadblocks that came with understanding music theory and sight reading, but for the most part, I taught myself to play.
Your first guitar was a black Mexican Strat; were there things you liked and disliked about that guitar? Did you play other instruments growing up?
My first Guitar was a black Mexican Stratocaster. It was one of the earliest guitars to have a humbucker bridge pickup and two single coils in a pickguard. I liked everything about it, except for the occasional buzzing that would occur when I switched between pickups. I also didn’t like that it was a little heavy to play standing up. Before I played guitar, I tried the violin and flute, but neither was right. I was overwhelmed by the studying. I felt like I would have to just to be okay with playing the violin or flute. I was attracted to the guitar because I loved the unique challenges that came with the makeup of the instrument. I loved the idea of shredding and building up my speed. I think playing guitar just felt like a provocative thing to do, and it made me want to play it more.
So you are a PRS Pulse Artist. What/when was your introduction to PRS Guitars, and how would you describe your tone with your current setup?
I was introduced to PRS guitars by watching Santana’s “Into the Night” video for the first time. After that, I was mesmerized by everything about PRS guitars, from the intricate colors to the body shapes and types of woods they are built with. The overall quality of a PRS guitar and their love for guitar building makes them a great brand. For a long time, it was my dream to own one. I am a woman that loves nice things, and PRS just always spoke top-of-the-line luxury to me. I dream of owning a PRS Special Semi-Hollow, a work of art. I currently play a PRS SE Custom 24; it’s a fantastic guitar. I love the warmth and sensual tones it gives. I also love its versatility in tonality. When I started playing guitar, I loved to play with overdrive and gain on 10. Still, as I’ve gotten more in touch with my guitar over the years, it’s more about finding the sweet spots and trying to achieve the balance of warmth with a little bit of distortion, just to get a little edginess out of my tone.
How would you describe your sound (in terms of music that you write), and what genres are you drawn to? Are there any particular artists that drew you to those genres, and what precisely do you pull from different genres to craft your style?
My sound is a mixture of the music I love. I grew up listening to R&B and soul. When I got into guitar, I started getting into rock, Latin rhythms, and Texas blues. Lyrically, I love artists like Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Anita Baker, and Mariah Carey. I was obsessed with Prince’s guitar playing and lyrics too. I love how Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Joe Satriani play(ed) the guitar. I think I try to emulate or pull the way certain songs make me feel so I can reproduce those feelings in my original songs.
Your bio mentions you being a poet and a songwriter. What commonalities do you think music and poetry have, and what is your approach to writing poetry vs. music? What connection do both have to their respective readers/listeners?
I think poetry and music are entities of each other. The definition of poetry is “the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative or elevated thoughts.” Poetry was my first love before music, and music has always been a part of who I am. My songwriting process usually starts with me writing a poem or two based on a random idea that may come to me; then, to see my idea to completion, I begin to translate into music with my guitar the feelings the words are trying to give me. Sometimes I feel like music is just poetry written to a soundtrack. My approach to writing poetry tends to be effortless; with music, I tend to be more analytical when I’m in the process of writing instrumentals. I think the connection both have to respective readers and listeners is that people want to feel something when they listen to a song or read a poem. A lot of time, people want to feel seen and understood, and music and poetry tend to be a gateway to feeling like you belong and feeling like someone understands you.
Who would you say is your target audience and why? What do you want to experience in your music and poetry? What do you want fans to get out of the gift you share with the world around you?
I hope to make music and poetry for everyone because I feel that poetry is a form of music, and that music is a universal language that can find its way into the hearts and minds of anyone and everyone. I want everyone and anyone who loves music and poetry to experience my art. I hope to at least make music and poetry people can relate to and escape life from. I make music for people who love to hear guitar solos and electric guitar. I want young women to see themselves in me and feel confident to play an instrument and pursue music. I want people of all ages to love and enjoy the music I create. I want to make people feel valued, seen, inspired, and happy through my music. I hope to make music people can dance to, cry to, marry, and make love to. I want fans to find whatever they’ve been needing to feel or needing to say through my music and poetry.
Let’s shift gears to inspiration. What inspires you? Do you ever get inspiration from things outside of music, such as movies or art?
As far as inspiration, I am very blessed to have grown up with a visual artist for a father, so as a kid, I was always surrounded by art and beauty. Whenever I feel like I need inspiration, I’ll read some poetry by one of my favorite poets Mirtha Michelle Castro Mármol, or read “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. I’ll binge-watch some of my favorite shows on Netflix like Queen of the South, Bridgerton, or any random movie that interests me at the moment. What I look for in movies or the shows I watch is any line that catches my ear that may sound good in a song. I love flowers and nature as well, so sometimes taking a walk and photographing any beautiful flowers that I see helps me. I think I am a very visual person, so sometimes I’ll have random song titles come up in my head like “Vanilla Roses“ or “Candy Coated Heart,” and I’ll save pictures of those ideas on my computer until I get enough lyrics to make up a whole song.
What do you want to accomplish within the next five years? The next ten years?
I have goals to work with and collaborate with artists I admire and respect, like Carlos Santana, Joe Satriani, maybe even Adele, Beyoncé, Snoh Aalegra, Sabrina Claudio, Bruno Mars, and others. I want to perform at the GRAMMY and Billboard Award shows and become a better songwriter and musician. I aim to have at least two successful albums and publish a book of poetry (or two). I’d love to play guitar on a soundtrack for an action or a Disney movie. I’d also love to be a touring musician with the space to experiment and collaborate with artists I look up to. Honestly, just know my life will be centered around performing on stage and living a creative life. I am happy as long as I continue giving my all to my passions.
What is one thing you are thankful to know now that you didn’t know a few years back?
One thing I am incredibly grateful to know is how to do guitar maintenance. I treat my guitars like they are my babies, so I tend to panic when something breaks, or a part is loose on my guitar because I don’t always feel comfortable dropping it at the shop. If anything, I’d instead try and do it myself. I am also thankful for the other female-identifying guitarists I have become close friends with; I always felt like an anomaly growing up because I didn’t know many women or girls who played guitar. But now, with social media, it’s been easier to connect with other female guitarists that share a similar story.