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Jeanne Kuhns

An interview with the singer, songwriter, and artist

Jeanne Kuhns live, photo by Mary Mattson - photo by Mary Mattson CD: Ghost Ranch
Record Label: Self released
by Tina Hall
September 2010

From Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, Jeanne Kuhns offers up soulful folk music that you have to hear to believe. She is also the mother of some very talented children. You might remember Eli Mattson from his run as runner up on America’s Got Talent some time back, but Jacob and Mary Beth Mattson are musicians as well. Her current band, Lost Mothra!, features the stylings of Patrick Palmer on bass, Lynn Gudmundsen on fiddle, and George Sawyn on lead guitar.

Kuhns is an Indie Singer/songwriter with her albums produced by herself and Hans Christian of Studio 330 in Sturgeon Bay. Jeanne has three solo albums and her style is reminiscent of female songwriters and singer of the 1960’s. Her newest work is titled Ghost Ranch and is available at CDBABY.com.

Other accolades include being named Door County Wisconsin’s Female Musician of the Year in 2008, and by Door County Magazine in July of 2010, and was number 6 on the Indie Songwriters Chart for WOS online radio Live365.com.

Maximum Ink:Can you tell us a little about your background? Where are you from?
How did it influence your musical style? What first led you to the music?
Jeanne Kuhns: I grew up in the Chicago suburbs listening to the folk artists of the time, Peter Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, Buffy Saint Marie then later Carol King, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Bob Dylan and Carley Simon. I loved Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner and the Motown sound.  Later Bonnie Raitt, Etta James and Peter Gabriel and my favorite new female singer is Brandi Carlile. My parents were also listening to public radio, the Midnight Special and taking me to the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, and we just loved all this music that changed the world with the messages it carried. As far as Indie singer songwriters The Sons of the Never Wrong, Krista Detor, Laura Veirs, Harry Manx and Jack Johnson.  Also I love the music my kids write, I’ve learned a lot from them.

MI: Did you always want to be a musician?
JK: Since I heard Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music!!

MI: What was it like to see Eli do so well and come in as the runner up on America’s Got Talent? Did he always show such character and soul? What was he like as child? Did he always have a passion for the piano?
JK: Eli has always been a passionate piano player and later discovered he could sing. It was surreal, nerve wracking and I was incredibly proud to see him on the show.

MI:  All you children are musically gifted as well. Would you say music runs in your family? Do you think genetics play any role in a person’s musical ability?
JK: Eli, Mary and Jacob are all gifted singer/songwriters with very different styles. Genetics plays a part and persistence. My brothers are both singer/songwriters and my sister is a writer, my father was a writer, my Mom sang in the choir…in the family…yes.

MI: You all seem to embody what is great about the Wisconsin music scene. Why do you think the music scene in Wisconsin is as lively as it is? Do you feel honored to be a part of it?
JK: I am honored to be a part of the Wisconsin music scene, it takes a lot of endurance to stay in it there are very many very excellent musicians living in and passing through Door County.  I learn from every musician I hear.  Door County is very special in that it respects, holds holy and pays its musicians!!!!!

MI: How would describe your band Lost Mothra!? What can fans expect of the live show?
JK: We are an original singer/songwriter indie band that has a lot of fun. We combine the influences of smoky blues/jazz undertones and progressive style folk with strong vocals and amazing guitar and fiddle playing to tell stories and gather insight and deliver it to our audiences. We are lyrically and musically strong. I love connecting to an audience.

MI: How does your album Ghost Ranch differ most from your previous work?
JK: Well, I think in my mind the work is getting better, the songs are closer to where I am heading as a songwriter. It’s a journey and this is one stop along the way. I have fabulous musicians with me which made me learn a great deal and able to stretch my songwriting.

MI: You are also an artist, where would you say your inspiration to create music and art comes from? Do you feel color is important to a person’s emotional health?
JK: Color is healing, and also stirs up a lot of memories and emotions, as do shapes and light. I have always loved art since I watched my Grandmother paint. Inspiration comes from living, being in the world and looking within the heart.

MI: Do you have any advice you would offer others wishing to pursue creative interests? What do you think is the most important thing to remember in order to not become discouraged?
JK: You have to be thick skinned, learn from criticism but don’t let people’s negative attitudes define you. Don’t give up, strive to always be better, be your own person, but soak up all the influences you can. You also have to learn to market yourself. But the main thing is ....just do it!!!!!

MI: You work as an advocate against domestic violence and are a survivor yourself. What advice would offer others that are currently dealing with those issues themselves? What do you think is the key to ending domestic violence?
JK: The key to ending it is talking about it, educating people about it, reporting it, shining huge spotlights on what’s going on so it doesn’t go unnoticed.  Also , learning to treat victims with respect and offer them healing not judgment, the victims are not the wrongdoers.

MI: Do ever suffer from stage fright?
JK: Of course.

MI: What are you currently working on? Where can your fans go for the latest information on all your projects?
JK: I am working on a new CD, hopefully due out Summer of 2011. I am also booking the Woodwalk Concert Series for summer of 2011. You can check out my Website www.jeannekuhns.com and find me on facebook, myspace and reverbnation.

Upcoming dates include Sept. 23rd at The Cookery in Fish Creek, WI, Coffee House Gallery Back Stage in Altadena, CA on Oct 8th, and Uncommon Ground on Clark Street in Chicago on Oct.23rd

Purchase Ghost Ranch on Amazon.com
Download Ghost Ranch on Amazon.com

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