Born to unusually hip parents in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, singer-songwriter Jen Cass was raised on a healthy mix of folk music, homegrown vegetables, spontaneous dancing, black licorice and Motown. When asked about her childhood Jen muses, "I remember my mom doing pirouettes around the living room with Joan Baez and Simon & Garfunkel blasting in the background. Then dad would pull out his guitar and we'd all sing Tom Paxton songs. “My sister and I weren’t allowed to watch TV, so we sang, danced and read every book we could get our hands on. By the age of five, I was a miniature troubadour in bad seventies clothing, quoting Jack London and belting out Jim Croce tunes. I love my parents for that.”
While her fashion sense has evolved over time, Jen has always remained true to her folk roots, writing beautifully crafted songs that draw comparisons to songwriting legends Bob Dylan, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Indigo Girls, and Dar Williams, as well as playwright Eugene O'Neill. In the words of Suzanne Glass of Indie-Music.com, “Cass’ songs are lyrical gems. She weaves fables with her words that would make Aesop jealous.” In November 1996, Jen released her first CD, Brave Enough To Say, and quickly sold over 2000 copies. Jen recorded Brave with the help of the world famous Russian surf-rock band Red Elvises. “We mixed contemporary folk, traditional country, gypsy scales, oatmeal raisin cookies and extreme sleep deprivation to create a totally unique sound,” quips Jen. Rick Nelson of the Tacoma News Tribune agrees, calling Brave Enough To Say an “excellent debut” and Jen a “gifted storyteller with a great voice.” Agenda’s Alan Goldsmith raves, “Jen Cass paints heartbreaking snapshots of lives gone wrong like nobody else.”
Since the release of Brave Enough To Say, Jen has played hundreds of gigs throughout the world, impressing fans and critics alike with her powerful performances. In addition to two trips to Kerrville New Folk (2010 and 2011), an Emerging Artist Showcase at the 2003 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, and an Official Showcase at the 2004 Americana Music Awards, Jen has played The Bluebird Café (Nashville), The Ark (Ann Arbor, MI), IOTA Club & Cafe (Arlington, VA), Uncommon Ground (Chicago), Vic's Music Corner (Rockville, MD), NERFA and Northwest Folklife (Seattle) to name a few. Jen is a regular performer on the Phil Ochs Song Nights, produced by Phil's sister Sonny Ochs. Jen was also a proud member of the first national Indiegrrl tour. Over time, Jen’s live shows have become increasingly popular, causing one critic to lament, “I attempted to pop into the Jen Cass show last month, but by ten o'clock the club was jammed to the roof and even standing room was not an option.”
After years of tireless touring, Jen caught the attention of producer John Jennings, who has co-produced eight albums and four #1 singles by Mary Chapin Carpenter, as well as discs by John Gorka, Janis Ian, Beausoleil, and many others. The result of their first collaboration, Jen’s sophomore release Skies Burning Red, received glowing reviews from critics worldwide including Rich Warren of Sing Out! and Pam Winters of Dirty Linen, was nominated for 2 Detroit Music Awards and 6 Review Music Awards, was #12 on WHFR's Best of 2003 list (between John Mayer and Evanescence), was a Midnight Special Pick Hit of the Week, and received radio play all over the world. The songs from Skies Burning Red won awards in nearly every major songwriting contest, including the 2003 John Lennon Songwriting Contest, the 2003 USA Songwriting Competition, the 2003 International Songwriting Competition, the 2004 Great American Song Contest, and the 2004 Billboard Worldsong Contest.
Jen's latest release, "Accidental Pilgrimage" was also produced by Jennings, and features the work of Jon Carroll and Dave Mattacks. "Accidental Pilgrimage" was one of the most added CDs of the summer of 2006 for folk and Americana radio, spawning five Top 25 hits including "Dear Mr. President" which finished the year at #26 on the 2006 Folk Chart, and is still receiving airplay worldwide. "Accidental Pilgrimage" was a Midnight Special Pick Hit and CD of The Week in June 2006, was featured in Dirty Linen and Sing Out!, and won the 2007 Detroit Music Award for Outstanding Acoustic/Folk Recording.
Jen is currently writing material for her fourth CD while her two children, ages 7 and 5, nap. You can have a sneak peak listen to the upcoming CD right here at www.jencass.com!