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vocal stylist | songwriter | educator



A picture may paint a thousand words, but a word can tell the whole story. “Exquisite!” says author/radio host Ben Fong-Torres, former senior editor of Rolling Stone Magazine and perennial king of what’s hot and what’s not. He’s talking about pop/jazz vocalist/songwriter Jenna Mammina and he is not alone. Hailing from Michigan, home to luminary vocal legends like Aretha Franklin, Betty Carter, and her mentor, Abbey Lincoln, Jenna’s mixed heritage household and neighborhood surrounded her with a vast array of diverse culture and music. Her parents, Ben and Grace, both accomplished musicians in their own right, nurtured all four siblings to cultivate their own breed of musical talent, culminating in the creation of their own independent record label Mamma Grace Records. And the rest is HERstory...

At the tender age of five, Jenna began singing in church and in clubs with her brothers Nino and Mitch and sister Lisa. Visits to her mother’s Native American New Mexico and experiencing the healing power of music planted the seed which would eventually define the power of the gift she now possesses. “I have fallen under Jenna’s spell” writes Oakland Tribune music critic Jim Herrington. “I hope to never recover from it.” Not that he’ll have to. Following anything but her muse was never an option and she has remained loyal to her calling. “From as far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be on stage singing, with kids in a classroom, and own my own company” Jenna says. “Now I’m blessed to have my dreams come true.” While touring, Jenna continues to teach children ages 3-103, through her workshops Scat for CatsTM, Art of the DuoTM, and her latest, So You Want To be a Rock and Roll Star at schools and universities throughout the country.

Recognized as one of the leading women of jazz/pop crossover for three years in a row by Jazziz Magazine, she recently shared the honor of both the cover and an original song “A Love that Lasts”, included alongside Diana Krall and Norah Jones. Her song “Contradictions” was included on the 2004 KKSF Aids Relief Sampler CD, featuring Joe Jackson and Brenda Russell. Other accolades bestowed upon Ms. Mammina include Jazz Performer of the Year for the SF Weekly, a nomination for Best Jazz Album for her sophomore CD, Meant to Be, by the California Music Awards, and the Goldy Award for her tireless work with children through her nationally acclaimed program Scat for Cats. Jenna’s first album, Under the Influence, was one of the most widely praised debuts in recent memory, earning a four-star review in Japan’s most prestigious jazz magazine, Swing Journal.

With thousands of miles and performances under her tri-coastal musical gypsy skirt, Jenna has claimed the San Francisco Bay Area as her home and sanctuary. She has performed with a vast array of legendary talent, such as Bobby McFerrin, June Millington, Rickie Lee Jones, Al Jarreau, Phish, David Sanborn, Ray Obiedo, Wil Ackerman, Liz Story, Tuck Andress, and Rosemary Clooney. Jenna has graced the stages of esteemed venues like Yoshi’s in Oakland, California, Town Hall in New York, The Green Mill in Chicago, and festivals such as Jazz Aspen, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage, Monterey San Francisco, Big Sur and Mount Hood, continuing to delight sold-out crowds throughout the United States and touring over 250 dates a year.

Jenna’s live performances capture her audiences and hold them like butterflies in the palm of her hand. “Jenna could sing a page from the phone book and make it sound like her own private piece of the sky,” writes Grapevine Culture critic Kimberlye Gold. “Like a devious detective, she can look around a room of any size and use that gift to freestyle a song on the spot about the people in it, including her band.”

On each of her five self produced CDs Under the Influence 1999, Just a Little Bit 2000, Meant to Be 2002, Art of the Duo 2003 and Jenna’s 2005 release Inner Smile along with songwriting partner Jonathan Bendich, it is Jenna’s uncanny ability to wrap herself around a melody, drawing the listener in so closely he can hear his own heartbeat while trying to catch his breath. Whether it be a rendition of a classic jazz standard like “My One and Only Love,” a well-known pop tune like “Watching The Detectives” or one of her own compositions, “I Found You”, the end result is the same. “She doesn’t just cover Warren Zevon, Elvis Costello and James Taylor, she reupholsters them,” says Hew Hallock.

She unwinds a song as if each word dangled from a string of twinkling charms and delicately snaps consonants like wishbones.” Ben Fong-Torres couldn’t agree more. “She teases it, toys with it, laughs with it, vocally dances with it, and, ultimately, the singer, and the song embrace one another, to the pleasure of the audience,” he says. “If these disks inspire you to seek out one of her club or concert engagements, be forewarned: You’ll have fun.”