Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reno Gazette Review - written by Forrest Hartman

Reno native Whitton takes flight on 'Rare Bird,' will perform Saturday

Jaime Whitton, 28
 Written by Forrest Hartman
Jaime Whitton says she spent the last two years pouring her soul into “Rare Bird,” a ten-song CD that was released Sept. 24.
 “It took me that long to really save all my pennies to get the top musicians and the top mixer, engineer and mastering guy, and designer for the cover,” she said. “So, I’m very, very, very proud of it.”
Saturday, the 28-year-old singer-songwriter will show off the fruits of her labor during a CD release concert at Cantina Los Tres Hombres in Sparks. The show will not only celebrate “Rare Bird’s” release, it will be something of a homecoming performance. Whitton – who uses only her last name on stage – was born and raised in Reno.
“My mom grew up in L.A. and my dad grew up in Reno,” she said. “My dad moved to Hollywood to become an actor, and that’s how they met. Then, they moved back to Reno to have six kids.”
The youngest of those six children, Whitton said the movie musical “The Sound of Music” inspired her parents to have a large family. So, it’s not surprising that their household shared similarities with the Von Trapp siblings depicted on screen. 

Whitton's video for 'Turn Off The Light'

 “I started singing when I was six,” Whitton said. “All of us kids were in our own musical endeavors. … My first four siblings, they were in big band. You know, my brother played trumpet and my sister played saxophone. My other sister played trombone and my brother plays guitar and drums.”
Many of Whitton’s siblings, including Reno-based sister Stacey Whitton-Summers, are still active in the arts. Whitton-Summers is a singer and stage performer who works as a celebrity impersonator, portraying the likes of Shania Twain and Marilyn Monroe.
Although Whitton, and the majority of her family now live in Southern California, she said she visits Reno about four times a year. Her trip this weekend will be special, though, as it’s allowing her to show off the new collection of tunes that she worked so hard for.
“The feedback’s been really great, but as we all know it takes awhile to really get some buzz going,” she said. “So, I’m excited for it. I’ve got my touring boots on, so I’m ready to hit the road. … We just put our tears and blood into that album.”
“Rare Bird” is a jazzy collection that takes traditional pop influences and blends them into a sound reminiscent of the music of the 1940s. In part, that’s because Whitton’s voice shares traits with classic jazz singers like Billie Holiday. It’s also due to the vision of the album’s producer and co-writer Ian Coyne.
Whitton said she used to perform more stripped down material that featured mostly her voice and acoustic guitar. A chance run in with Coyne changed everything.
“I was used to playing guitar solo and doing my own tours,” she said. “My acoustic stuff, it’s kind of hard to categorize. It’s just acoustic. … When I met Ian, he had this whole vision of developing a bigger sound.”
That sound leans heavily on jazzy horn parts and swinging rhythms that reinforce the nostalgic feel of the music. Although Whitton is hoping to spend a lot of time touring in 2012, she’s the first one to admit that it’s tough to break through in the music industry, particularly these days.
That’s one reason she had to self-fund “Rare Bird,” an effort that has required her to work two part-time jobs for the last several years. Despite the struggles, Whitton has had some success in the music industry. Tracks from her previous recording, a self-titled EP, were placed in two 2011 movies: “The 5th Quarter” and “Exit Strategy.” She was also featured as a guest vocalist on an episode of the popular Showtime TV series “Dexter.”
As for concerns about the instability of the music industry, Whitton said she just keeps moving forward.

“It frightens me sometimes when I really think about it, but I don’t really have another alternative,” she said. “I mean music is just something I have to do.” As long as I’m doing it, I think I’ll be OK.”

If you go

What: Whitton concert and CD release party. Also on the bill is local band Jelly Bread.
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22
Where: Cantina Los Tres Hombres, 926 Victorian Ave., Sparks
Admission: Free
Learn more: To learn more about Jaime Whitton or purchase her music, visit|topnews|text|Local%20Life

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