Although New Mexico resident Jenny Bird isn't a huge name in the music world, the veteran singer/songwriter has been quite active on the folk circuit since the ‘70s.
Producer/drummer Jerry Marotta has described Bird's folk-rock singing as "quiet and loud," which sounds like a contradiction, but isn't in Bird's case -- she isn't a fragile, waifish sort of singer, but she isn't an aggressive belter, either. Bird (who often plays acoustic guitar on her recordings) is quite capable of vulnerability, yet she brings a quiet strength to much of her work. If Sam Shaber and former October Project singer Mary Fahl are the essence of big-voiced, full-bodied belting, and Jewel and Suzanne Vega exemplify the waifish approach, Bird is somewhere in between. Her introspective, often spiritual approach to folk-rock has reflected her interest in the "three J's": Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and Joni Mitchell, all of whom had a major impact on so many of the female singer/songwriters who emerged in the ‘60s and ‘70s (as well as a lot of younger Gen-X singer/songwriters who first made their mark in the ‘80s or ‘90s). But Bird has evolved over the years, and some of the people who discovered her work in the ‘90s have made more modern comparisons to the work of Lillith Fair favorites such as Sarah McLachlan and the Indigo Girls. In fact, Bird performed at McLachlan's Lillith Fair festival in 1998. Bird doesn't inundate listeners with overtly political songs, but like a lot of folk-rock artists, she has been politically active and has supported a variety of liberal causes. In addition to working with environmental groups, the singer/songwriter has performed at fundraising events for the Green Party.
Bird, who lives in Taos, NM, was still in her teens when she recorded her debut album, Open Your Heart, for Warner Bros.' Dutch division. Open Your Heart was never released in the United States; Warner Bros. only released the LP in the Netherlands. And after that, Bird didn't record any more albums for major labels. But she built a catalog anyway and did so by taking a proactive approach to recording; in other words, Bird started her own label, Earthlight Records, and put her albums out independently. Mesa Sea, Bird's second album and first independent release, came out in 1986. Her subsequent Earthlight releases included Unity in 1990, Eternal Light in 1994, Angel's Gift in 1996, and Into Stars in 1998. Then, in 2002, Jerry Marotta (who has worked with major artists like Stevie Nicks, Peter Gabriel, Joan Armatrading, and the Indigo Girls), produced Bird's seventh album, Joy of It. ~ Alex Henderson