Born and raised in Las Vegas, Jennifer Beall comes from a family history of musicians. She has been singing since she was a child, her first experience as a recording artist was in her father’s studio at the age of 9, where she laid down Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All”. Her grandfathers on both sides were jazz musicians; both played the clarinet among a plethora of other instruments. Al Villaire, her maternal grandfather, played Dixieland Jazz and Frank Durante, her paternal grandfather, played big band and swing (he was even asked to play with Tommy Dorsey’s band before he was drafted for war). Both her mother and father play multiple instruments; her father, Dennis Durante, was recently inducted into the Las Vegas division of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his local band Pork and Beans.
How has your extensive family background in music helped to shape your personal career in music? I think having the benefit of being exposed to so many different genres has been the greatest gift from my family. By exploring such a diverse collection of music and sounds from jazz, to big band, to country, to folk, to rock and even the pop genres through my family I’ve adopted a no holds barred approach to music. I go where I feel, if that makes sense.
Did you always know that you’d pursue music as a career? I’ve always known music would be a part of my life whether it is in the form of a career or just singing to my children. I’ve just known it’s who I am. And then there’s the time that I told a doctor (in all seriousness) that I was going to be a rock star – so I guess you could say yeah!
Could you tell us about each of the projects that you are currently involved in? I’m working with Jim Presley on our primary project, The James Presley Band, we also have a trio version of that project, I’m picking up a little business as Patsy Cline in a tribute show, I write a little at home and hope to get worked into a June Carter for a future tribute project to the Man in Black and his Siren.
What led to this particular opportunity to begin performing with the James Presley Band? Jim and I worked together in a previous project and we discussed doing a side project, eventually we both came together and this became our primary project.
What was it like growing up in Las Vegas, Nevada? It’s bittersweet actually. I miss the way Las Vegas used to be, very 50’s to 60’s classic and sheik. However, on the flip side of that coin, it’s been awesome to see the recent growth of the culture in our city with the improvements downtown, the art’s district and the many performing arts venues that have popped up.
Do you ever find it intimidating performing in Las Vegas, a city that is so full of extraordinary talent? I can’t say I’ve ever thought of it as intimidating, flattering that folks would want to come out to see/hear us perform but never intimidating.
Could you tell us about some of the most exciting and interesting live performances that you have been a part of? My favorite by far was the Jackson Family Honors where I was privileged enough as a teen with the Green Valley High School Choir, to sing with the Jackson family, Michael himself and Celine Dion. That was the most amazing thing ever!! Additionally I’ve been blessed to play with a few tribute artists in town on their shows and that’s always a blast, to see how they bring these artists to life for their audiences.
What hobbies or activities do you enjoy outside of music? Well, I love my family; we spend a lot of time at Mt. Charleston and Red Rock hiking and going to Bonnie Springs to eat the best breakfasts ever! I am also a HUGE Knott’s Scary Farm Haunt fan, so I obsess over that for a good chunk of the year as well.
What do the remaining months of 2015 hold in store for Jennifer Beall musically? More growth with James Presley Band, as well as the trio version, hopefully getting a few original tracks written and recorded, performing in the tribute shows and who knows in addition to that, the sky’s the limits!!