Jennifer Barnes has developed a reputation as an exceptional musician through her work as a live and studio vocalist, composer, arranger and educator. Referring to her debut CD recording, “You Taught My Heart”, legendary jazz bassist Rufus Reid says, “Jennifer integrates rich vocal quality, clarity of pitch and emotion with an additional pivotal skill that sets her apart from other great singers; she sings improvisations that are melodically and rhythmically interesting from the point of view of a jazz instrumentalist.”
She sang in a nationally aired Chili’s television commercial, and her voice has been featured on television and radio commercials including Epson, Old El Paso, McDonalds and Kellogg’s. She has opened for the Count Basie Orchestra and performed with her trio at the 28th Annual IAJE International Conference in New York City.
Jennifer demonstrates tremendous versatility in her ability to not only lead her own small jazz group, but also as a big band vocalist, most notably as the featured vocalist on the Doug Lawrence Orchestra CD, “Big Band Swing”. Chicago Tribune jazz critic Howard Reich reported, “she produces a sumptuous, wide-open sound…yet she threw off ornate lines at quick tempos with apparent ease.”
Jennifer is the alto voice and one of the arranger/composers for two professional vocal groups: Vertical Voices, with Kerry Marsh, Julia Dollison and Greg Jasperse, and Los Angeles-based Sixth Wave. Both groups maintain an active performance and tour schedule in the U.S. and Canada.
Jennifer has performed or recorded with such musical legends as Doc Severinsen, Barry Manilow, Cy Coleman, Marilyn & Alan Bergman, Doc Severinsen, as a backup vocalist for Bono on the 2002 Grammy Awards, and on television shows and films including “Live Free or Die Hard”, “Ice Age 2 & 3”, “Wall-E”, “Speed Racer”, “2012”, “Enchanted”, “Star Trek” and “Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief” and the FOX smash hit, “Glee”.
Jennifer has gained notoriety not only for her performing abilities, but also for her commitment to jazz education. She was an active long-time member and advocate of IAJE (International Association of Jazz Educators), now is a member of JEN (Jazz Education Network), and has taught the vocalists at the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Camps since 1998. In addition, she taught privately and directed DownBeat [magazine] award-winning Vocal Jazz Ensembles at eight universities, including Western Michigan University, University of Miami (FL), Chicago College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, the University of Southern California, and her current teaching position as Assistant Professor and Director of Vocal Jazz at the University of North Texas.