by Kenny Kerner

It's true--girls just wanna have fun. So when Jennifer Smith left college after two years, she worked on a fishing boat and then spent some time as a horseback riding instructor. Not exactly the path that led her to a successful career as a full-time musician, but fun nonetheless.

Though her father was a classical guitarist and music was always a part of her family, Jennifer did most of her live shows in the bedroom, as we all did while growing up. Performing in front of a real audience wouldn't cross her mind for years to come.

"Although I'd been writing songs since I was about 16," Jennifer recalls, "it wasn't until 1988 that a friend of mine gave me a couple of songs and suggested I go to some open mike nights and perform live. The feedback was very positive. I was surprised. I'd go out there with a guitar and just sing a few songs. The support from the audience was great."

For Jennifer, this was just the beginning. When she met her husband-to-be, her career in the music business took yet another step forward. "I didn't start writing seriously until I met my fiancee in 1989," she continued, "he was a writer and happened to need a vocalist on some of his songs so he could demo them. I also had a few songs I wanted to record so we started writing and recording together and went full-time as a duo in 1990. By 1991, we were making a living at playing music."

i i
Name: Jennifer Smith
Age: 30
Residence: Baltimore, Maryland
Occupation: Full-Time Musician
Joined TAXI: July, 1997
Songs Forwarded:  34
Deals Made: Westwind Media
Three songs in "Brooklyn
South" TV series
One song in a CBS-TV
Movie of the Week
Jennifer's decision to team up with her fiancee seemed to pay off immediately. In the beginning, the duo had a hot streak, averaging almost 35 shows a month, eventually cutting back that rigorous schedule to a mere 25!

But, to use a phrase reminiscent of her fishing boat days, it wasn't always smooth sailing. Jennifer had her share of rejection and frustrations, too: "Between 1990-1996, our entire focus was on the recording artist endótrying to get a record deal. It was very frustrating. This entire business is generally frustrating. We sent out our packages but not a lot ever happened. Then, in 1994, we got signed to a small label out of New York called Viceroy and we put out a record with them. We toured the East Coast a little and did a couple tours of Germany and the UK. Came time to do the next record and we went looking for producers, but the label never seemed to be ready for us to record. Instead of just waiting around, we decided to do our own recordóso we left the label. It was right about that same time that we heard about TAXI."

Jennifer writes songs in many different musical stylesósome ranging from pop all the way to gospel, rock and country. As an artist, she falls into the Modern Rock/AAA categories, and is most comfortable there. But when she pitches songs for country listings, she relies on the critiques of the knowledgeable TAXI Screeners to guide her: "The country critiques are especially helpful to us because country music is not the realm that we're accustomed to. They seem more objective while the critiques for artist listings seem more subjective."

By continuing to pitch songs to TAXI listings, Jennifer is finding out that her personal contacts in the business are also hearing about her through the grapevine. "We've been calling up all of our contacts to promote our new record," Jennifer revealed, "and I'm beginning to see that the wires have started to cross. Many of our contacts now hear about us through someone at TAXI also. And that gives them the impression that there's a buzz going on."

By continuing to use TAXI's pool of industry resources, Jennifer was able to get 34 forwardsóone of which was to a listing placed by Westwind Media. Let's let her tell it, ok? "This company called us and said they were interested in putting one of our songs as background music in the Steven Bochco TV series, ëBrooklyn South.' Even though it was used as background music it still was better than just having the song sit around. Now, at least, it's earning us some money and it also helps us when we're making calls and sending out packages. It looks great on our credits and resumes. When we sent out our new CD to the company, they picked another song for the same series."

Ironically, a mere year-and-a-half ago, Jennifer Smith was ready to call it quits and drop out of the music business entirely, but TAXI really encouraged her to stick with it. "We have more enthusiasm now than we've had in a couple of years."

A total professional who continues to further her career daily, Jennifer Smith has found that perfect balance in life between reality and wishful thinking: "I feel it's important to find a healthy balance between believing in what you do and paying attention to the criticism that comes in; to the reactions of other people to what you do. It's a difficult balance, but you need to find one that allows you to keep going. I would recommend that everyone join TAXI and also keep doing whatever you can on your ownóget your material out and develop relationships." Sound advice for everyone!


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