Jennie DeVoe, the Blues Redeemer
by Leslie Benson, NUVO Newsweekly
Despite interest from major record labels, Muncie, Ind.-raised singer-songwriter Jennie DeVoe has opted to stay independent.
“Small explosions happen, and ultimately, they lead to big explosions,” she says.
These big bangs include things like performing with her band all over the U.S. and in Europe, though she pays for everything out-of-pocket. “We’re returning to Europe to record a new album with my old producer, John Parish [P.J. Harvey],” she says. “He’s a musician who understands textures and moods. I think [the new album’s] gonna have a real raw, dry sound. I’m using timeless instruments and will rock out a little more.”
The elusive collection is DeVoe’s first album since 1994’s Fireworks & Karate Supplies, produced by Parish and Indiana’s own Paul Mahern of the Zero Boys (Over the Rhine, Mudkids).
DeVoe’s also savoring news that she was chosen as the Indiana artist representing Meijer’s Outside the Mainstream, a program that brings one artist’s music per state, per month into regional Meijer stores.
“They bought 1,000 CDs from me, and they’ll put them in stores for the month of August, no strings attached,” DeVoe says.
It will expand her reach to other Midwest audiences — perhaps another one of her so-called “big explosions.” Some others include licensing “Don’t Forget to Breathe” to an independent film, Mango Tango, about a Brazilian dancer, which will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival and the Oldenburg International Film Festival, the German equivalent to Sundance, later this year. In addition, she had her music aired on Dawson’s Creek and Joan of Arcadia and continues to make a living from her craft.
“I just put blinders over my eyes … and followed my own path,” says DeVoe, who grew up playing piano and only taught herself the guitar in 2002. “I feel like I’m so happy and lucky right now.”
Feeling “the heavens open up” when she first heard Bonnie Raitt and Sheryl Crow sing “without masked emotions,” DeVoe embraced folk, blues, soul and rock. “But it’s my band that really helps me move people … and deliver my songs,” she adds.
DeVoe’s lighthearted attitude has sustained her cult following. “The fans seem pretty savvy [in Indianapolis],” she says. “They’ve figured out that [just because] it’s not on the radio, it doesn’t mean it’s ‘discount’ music.
"[I want to] put a positive spin on something that’s bleak,” DeVoe says. “That’s why I like ‘Redeeming’ [off Fireworks & Karate Supplies]. It’s my favorite song, lyrically. It’s the ‘We both scooped each other off the pavement’ kind of thing. We all need some forgiveness … My favorite line in that song is, ‘I just want someone to wag their tail when I walk through the door.’”