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Meet Jeannine Higgins

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeannine Higgins.

Jeannine, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in Pennsylvania with music all around me. My mother sang and was involved in community theater. I and all of my siblings sang in church, school and choirs. We all played various musical instruments. The latest rock or folk album was always spinning on the record player. From my earliest memory, I was singing, and that was my first love. I was in choir every school year, from 2nd grade to college and also played the cello in the orchestra. I began college as a music major in voice, but didn’t finish.

When I was 21, I met a wonderful man, Kevin, and we married and began a family. We had three sons; Kevin Jr., Sean and Liam, who are grown now. For 20+ years my attention was on raising my sons, and I was glad that I could be there for them. I am so proud of the young men that they have become, and they continue to be supportive of my music! While raising my sons, I returned to school to pursue a degree in education, thinking that I needed to get a real job. I now teach fourth grade, sharing my love of writing!

Eight years ago, I decided to begin singing and playing music again. I was feeling strong and it just felt like the right time. I started taking guitar lessons to brush up on my skills and began to explore open-mics. I initially learned three cover songs to play, and continued to add to my repertoire. I didn’t have a lot of confidence as someone who had been away from the scene for many years. Each time I would perform, I was shaking like a leaf, but I was very determined to keep my eye on my dreams!

I met many wonderful musicians while playing open mics. One of them was Gregg Watts, a seasoned performer and musician who was playing gigs all over town. He called me one-night several years ago and said that he knew of this wine bar where I could potentially get a gig. I expressed to him that I didn’t feel “ready” for my own show and he responded, “You are ready for this. You have what it takes.” His confidence in me meant so much and I considered him a mentor of sorts, and a very generous person. He put me in touch with the manager, who wanted me to send him some recordings. At that time, I had zero recordings. That night, I closed myself in the bathroom (I had heard acoustics were good there) and recorded three songs on my iPad to send to him. The manager hired me, and my first gig was at a wine bar in Rice Village. After that, I had confidence to pursue more shows, and I now perform in Houston and throughout the US.

I started writing my own songs in earnest about six years ago, and released my self-titled debut album in 2018. You can often see me around town performing with the great fiddler, Howard Namkin. I am grateful for his contributions to my songs. 

Kevin has been so supportive of my music all of these years. He is my rock, my best friend, and my biggest fan! I am also fortunate to have a supportive group of friends and family.

Has it been a smooth road?
Because of family obligations, many women put their creative outlets on hold. This was true for me, but I think it also gave me time to mature as a person, artist, musician and songwriter. Age has also made me a little bolder. I’m less intimidated than I was as a 20 or 30-year-old (I was so shy) and more determined. It has been difficult balancing family, work, and music. That doesn’t leave time for much else. I have been very driven over these years and have worked very hard at my craft!

As with many professions, music tends to be a male-dominated industry. When I initially attended open mics, years ago, I didn’t see many women out performing. Many times, night after night, I saw no women at all. I supposed they were doing homework with their kids, and putting them to bed, as I had been doing for much of my adult life. I would sometimes hear comments like, “Where is your husband?” and I was occasionally subject to catcalls. It was unnerving and I had to develop a thick skin. Songwriting and performing requires you to at once be vulnerable and tough at the same time. This is a challenging line to walk.

Can you give our readers some background on your music?
My songs are personal and evoke emotion with my listeners.This  allows my audience to connect my music to their own lives. My songs are honest and I am never afraid to have my audience feel deeply. And they do. Kevin jokes that I should bring boxes of tissues to all of my shows. Many of my songs are driven by relationships and observations of people and their relationships.

My song, She’s Nobody (Emily’s Song) is about the poet, Emily Dickinson, and was a finalist in the 2019 Great American Song Contest. 

My song, She Won’t Stay, a song about growing and changing within a relationship, was included in the 2018 Millenium Music Conference compilation album.

Be Home For The Fall, a song I wrote about getting home to see my father before he passed away, was chosen for the Singer-Songwriter Cape May compilation album, 2020. 

My songs have been played on KPFT 90.1 in Houston, KWVH 94.1, Wimberley, TX, KTRU Rice Radio- 96.1 FM, Qwik Rock 105.9, State College, PA, WNIR-National Indie Radio and A.V.A Radio. I was also honored to be featured in a mini-concert on wtbq’s “Hootenanny Cafe” with Jon Stein.

I plan to release two new singles this summer and fall.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Houston is a city with many great live music venues. I do feel that some venues discourage original music. Not only that, they want to hear covers exactly as they were recorded on the album. It would do Houston well to encourage and provide space for original artists and more live music venues.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
3 photos – Amy Murphy – photographer
1 photo – Scott Holleman – photographer

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