Honey Jam opens doors for budding female artists
August 10, 2017
Should I pursue a media or singing career now?
Jenna Bennett had to make a decision a year ago while employed as a technical producer at Sirius XM Canada.
“I was looking for a promotion and that would have meant that I would have had to work 40 hours instead of 25,” the singer/songwriter said. “It would have been difficult to do that and commit to a singing career. I want to follow my dream which is to make it big in the musical world.”
Bennett is well on her way.
She is among 15 young female artists from across Canada selected to showcase their talent in various musical genres at the 22nd annual Honey Jam concert on August 24 at The Mod Club.
This was the first time she auditioned for the event that has opened doors for several Canadian urban artists, including two-time Grammy winner Nelly Furtado, rapper-actor Michie Mee and R & recording artists Melanie Fiona and Jully Black.
“I chose to do it now because I felt ready and comfortable,” Bennett said. “I did auditions before where I was nervous. With Honey Jam, the atmosphere was family-like and I felt at home. It was a fun experience. This is such an amazing opportunity for me and the other participants. It is a safe place for us to work together, learn from each and help each other. The exposure with the concert is a great opportunity for us to perform in front of industry professionals. You never know where that could lead to.”
Each artist was given a minute to perform a song at the audition.
Bennett’s rendition, ‘Balance’, is a song she wrote.
“It’s a song that has to do with finding the perfect in-between to make sure you find happiness when you are trying to accomplish your dreams,” said the 22-year-old who plays the acoustic guitar while singing.
Bennett started playing the string instrument in Grade 10 at Pickering High School.
Her inspiration is country musician Keith Urban who has his own signature package of guitars and accessories.
“He’s such an amazing guitarist and I told myself if I could be quarter as good as he is, I would have accomplished something,” said Bennett who graduated from Centennial College’s broadcasting and film program last year and interned at KX 96 New Country FM.
While at Centennial, Bennett won the college’s 2014 ‘Got Talent’ competition and a 10-day internship with the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Experience in Los Angeles.
“I kept scores at a few events, did some judging and produced a cipher which was really cool,” she said. “It was at that event that I realised I like this world and I want to be in it.”
Bennett returned to Los Angeles last March to produce her Extended Play (EP) record with producer Adrian Cota.
“We are close to the mastering stage,” she said. “It has five tracks and they are all songs that I wrote which sound like me as I life different genres of music.”
In conversation with Honey Jam board member and Warner Chappell Music Canada Ltd. general manager Vivian Barclay, American singer/songwriter and actor LeToya Luckett, who was in the city earlier this week for a private screening of a documentary series she created for her new album, ‘Back to Life”, spoke about her music journey and offered some advice to the artists at a media launch.
She was a member of two-time Grammy Award-winning girl group, Destiny Child, which included Beyoncé who has won 22 Grammy Awards and Kelly Rowland.
Started singing in church at age five, Luckett joined Destiny Child when she was 12 years old.
“I auditioned for Beyoncé’s father (he managed the group) in a living room one afternoon and the next day I was rehearsing and having to pick up the routine, learn lyrics to songs and get in the groove of things immediately,” she recalled of her start with the group that sold more than 60 million records. “Within a week, I had a vocal coach.”
Luckett acknowledged her mother’s support during those early days.
“You have to be a strong woman of faith to let your child go off at the age of 12 to pursue her career full out,” she said. “My mom knew that I was going to do whatever it took to put in the work to accomplish my goals and I had her full support.”
She advised songwriters, particularly those that are in groups, to initial every word or line they put out.
“We came up with that ourselves and it worked,” Luckett, whose musical inspirations were the late Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, said.
The two-time Grammy Award winner also encouraged the young artists to learn as much as possible about all aspects of the music business.
“Learn what the producer is doing and sit behind the engineer and watch him,” Luckett, who owns an upscale women’s boutique in her hometown of Houston, said. “I admire artists who produce their own sings. This is how it should be done. It saves you a lot of money. The more you learn, the better you will be for it.”
Produced by Phemphat Entertainment, Honey Jam provides educational, networking, mentoring, promotional and performance opportunities for aspiring female artists across Canada.
In addition to having their original songs played on radio, the 15 artists will attend a free music industry workshop at Harris Institute, receive personal vocal and performance coaching from celebrity coach Elaine Overholt of Big Voice Studios and tour Goggle office.
Some artists will receive $6,500 in Yamaha Canada equipment, attend Canada’s Walk of Fame Awards on October 6, do song demo sessions at Slaight Music Studios and have an opportunity to participate in Canada’s Music Incubator 10-week professional development and perform at the CNE.
An artist will also be selected to perform at the fifth Honey Jam event in Barbados in November.
The Honey Jam showcase was intended to be a one-off event celebrating the all-female edition of the now defunct Mic Check magazine that Ebonnie Rowe edited in 1995.
“The party featured some of the women we had in the magazine and we called it Honey Jam,” said Rowe, who co-founded the highly successful Each One Teach One mentoring program. “Everybody who attended loved it and at the end they turned to me and asked, ‘When is the next one’?”