Jen Hajj on River Road in Idyllwild.
Photo by Brian Davis

Jen Hajj doesn’t remember a time before she began singing. From a young age, it was among her favorite activities. “I use music to express beauty by telling stories that move me or to appreciate something simple, even stunning,” muses the Idyllwild lyricist and performing artist, who adds, “I have a strong feminist bent and really want to live in a world of equality using my voice to subtly promote social concepts.”

Classified as a coloratura soprano, Hajj’s melodic vocals bring a sense of elegance to her music. In the early years, Hajj joined choirs and bands, but as she matured, she looked for more personal ways to musically express herself. She picked up a guitar only about 13 years ago and has never looked back.

Self-accompaniment allowed Hajj to express herself individually. “After music school in Utah and learning the guitar, I found the proper vocal placement within its range where it’s easy, then performing became second nature,” Hajj said. “My process is to start with a phrase or a snippet of a verse, then add verses … the last thing to come into play is the accompaniment. A new song may take a year to get under my fingers.”

Hajj recently won best performer, the equivalent of third prize, in the Morro Bay “Song Writers at Play” sponsored by Steve Key. “I’ve been told my lyrics are poetic and was recently asked to contribute my song ‘The Pale Blue Dot’ to the Santa Barbara literary journal. The editor was looking for lyrics expressed poetically,” Hajj added.

“I have a strong feminist bent and really want to live in a world of equality using my voice to subtly promote social concepts.”

To the question, have you found your voice? Hajj answers, “Yes, I think so. I’m venturing into the world of humor in song. It will come as commentary on the things that exasperate us like the news, or what angers us a little, or things that are unfair, by offering a coping perspective that moves me out of the middle. One example,” smiles Hajj, “Does fitting into a young box mean wiring your jaw shut, eating raw ‘veggies’ while continuously taking classes to promote your art, allow for any time to find it?”

One of Hajj’s songs from her album “Shelter Songs” entitled “The Man Who Planted Trees” is a story about an individual’s attempt to repair a broken world by planting 10 seeds a day. After the passage of decades, area residents grew to revere this massive forest. The narrator knows the forest isn’t ancient … but he’s the only one.

Hajj performs in Idyllwild at least monthly. Her favorite performance spaces are Sam Kessler’s Florist in the Forest, Spirit Mountain Retreat Center and other locales that are a good fit for music that opens a window and carries the listener away on a breeze.

Hajj’s new album “The Pale Blue Dot” is in the works at Mike Gustin’s MTG Studio. Most of the songs on the album deal with the contrast between opposites of scale. A wide point of view offers a different perspective. Her new album is scheduled for release at summer’s end. Stay tuned for updates at JenHajj.com and on Facebook at Jen Hajj music.

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