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Take Five with Jess Klein: “I write a lot about women’s resilience, vulnerability, and what it seems to take to grow spiritually.”

As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 23 – Fall 2023

My name is Jess Klein, and I’m a singer-songwriter who grew up in Rochester, NY, and has since lived in Boston, New York, Austin, and now North Carolina. I’ve toured all over the US, Europe, Japan and Canada. I’ve recorded 11 albums, and When We Rise, which drops September 15, 2023, is my 12th. I write a lot about women’s resilience, vulnerability, and what it seems to take to grow spiritually.

Tell us a little about your musical background; how old were you when you started playing guitar, and what inspired your musical desire?

I started writing short stories in high school and started playing guitar as a 19-year-old Women’s Studies student on a semester-abroad program in Kingston, Jamaica. I had a lot of feelings and a lot of things to say, and when I discovered songwriting, I found somewhere to put them that made sense and seemed to resonate with other people as well.

Where do you find the inspiration for your music?

A lot of it comes from my own emotions and observing what I see happening emotionally for the people around me. I was blessed with the ability to sense what people are feeling even when they aren’t expressing it out loud, and it’s given me an insightful writing voice and storytelling tool. I also find a lot of inspiration in seeing people advocate for themselves struggling against oppression, especially through songs. The activist-artists are my heroes.

What is your songwriting process?

It varies. Sometimes, I will have a melody come to me, and then I go looking for words to express the feeling that melody seems to capture. Other times, a word or a phrase will spark an idea. The important thing for me is to remain open and write things down or record a voice memo as soon as the idea comes; otherwise, it could get lost.

What’s your go-to guitar for songwriting?

My 1959 Guild M-20.

Music to me is…

Medicine, a language everyone can speak and understand, a way to reach people and be reached that goes deeper than words.

GGM Staff


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