published Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Curtain Call: Life slows down Jennifer Daniels

In the 1980s song "Beautiful Boy," John Lennon famously sang the lyric: "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

It was written about his son Sean, although it is a line most people can relate to.

For singer Jennifer Daniels, giving birth to twins three years ago definitely changed her plans. Since the arrival of Colin and Kate, she and music partner/husband Jeff Neal have essentially put their musical careers on hold.

Before their baby break, the two played somewhere almost every week, doing about 150 shows a year.

Their hiatus might be coming to an end as the duo will perform Saturday at Rhythm & Brews. They will do numbers from their six-song Christmas CD, "A Thrill of Hope," and from their three previously released CDs that are still in print.

Q: How long have you been singing professionally?

A: Thirteen years.

Q: Was it always part of your plan to sing?

A: I got my master's in counseling. My mom wanted me to have a fallback. I thought I would go into family counseling. I did an internship at an elementary school and a high school.

Q: How long have you been performing with Jeff?

A: Thirteen years. We met right when I decided to do music full-time. It was such a Godsend. I don't know if I could have done it without him.

Q: You perform under your name, but it is the two of you right?

A: We do. It's not that I don't want to give him billing. I had performed in college and had started to build a name.

Q: How has it worked out?

A: For me, great. No, I'm kidding. I am such a ham and he is not comfortable being in the spotlight.

Q: How does the songwriting process work for you guys?

A: Generally, I am the one who gets away by myself and comes up with the skeleton of the song, and then I will come to him. There are those occasions where I will go to the mall or for a run and when I come back, he will have written a song.

Q: Will you be doing songs from your Christmas CD at Rhythm & Brews?

A: Yes. It's a six-song EP.

Q: What is on it, and how did you choose? There are so many Christmas songs to pick from.

A: I do "Silent Night" in my shows and the crowd sings along so it becomes very sweet. That was a no brainer.

I wrote two songs as well. "Norman Rockwell" was written after a tour through Vermont. There are all these Rockwell museums up there. My family was falling apart with my parents getting divorced, so it was a conflict for me.

The second is called "A Word About the Star." It's written from Mary's perspective and this enormous responsibility she had. I do "O Holy Night" with me on electronic guitar, so that is fun for me. We also do "O Come Emmanuel" and "Angels We Have Heard on High."

Q: Twins, huh. What has that been like?

A: Wonderful, but we've found that everything submits while they are this young. It has blown our minds in a wonderful way, but everything submits to them, including our creative energy. If I sing now it's about going poopoo in the potty.

Since they are older and entertain each other more, I have actually read a few books and started journaling again.

Q: What has Jeff been doing?

A: He went to school for broadcast film and has been producing videos. We've also been working with The Oak Project [to rebuild Haiti]. We've been selling Rubble Wear, which is made from rubble from the Haitian earthquake.

Q: Do you have a timetable for your next album?

A: No. Not really. We are just trying to figure it out. It's a state of flux, which is weird because we were such hard-working musicians.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6354.

THIS IS ON THE FRONT

Contributed Photo

Jennifer Daniels has taken a break from her performing schedule to raise her 3-year-old twins. She and husband Jeff Daniels will perform Dec. 17 at Rhythm & Brews.

Jennifer Daniels

Age: 38.

Job: Performing songwriter.

Hometown: Knoxville, Tenn.

Married: Jeff Neal; twins, Colin and Kate, 3.

Available CDs by Jennifer Daniels

"Dive and Fly"

"Summer Filled Sky"

"Come Undone"

"A Thrill of Hope"

Favorites

Movies: "Moulan Rouge."

Books: "A Praying Life" by Paul Miller.

Song: "Better Than An Hallalieuh," Amy Grant.

Artist: Jason Harrod.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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