Jenie Thai

When you meet her, Jenie Thai is composed, pleasant, amiable, friendly, and — she won’t like the word but you have to live with it — sweet. She has an open face, long blonde hair, a ready smile and an easy laugh. And she is also tough, and gritty, and plays barrelhouse piano steeped in the blues — and if that wasn’t enough to get your head around, she also writes and sings tough and tender ballads, direct from her heart to yours.
Born, Jenie Thai Nolan in Chang Mai, Thailand (hence her middle name, which has become her professional name).

She began studying piano at the age of five. In 2008 she attended Grant MacEwen University’s jazz and contemporary music programme as a performance major. Later she was offered a part-time teaching position at MacEwen, and accepted into Paul McCartney’s music school in Liverpool. She passed on both opportunities; it time to get into the real world of playing music for a living.

In 2011 she released her debut album, Lady Flower — an EP with a title track that earned her an honourable mention in the International Songwriting Competition. One of 13 finalists in the performance category; there were 16,000 submissions. And the record also earned her gigs at the Edmonton and Canmore Folk Music Festivals. Two years later she released her first full-length album, Only the Moon. “Beautifully crafted… showcasing a voice that has warmth and beauty,” wrote David Farrell. He ought to know; he runs Canada’s music industry website, FYImusicnews.ca.

Jenie has a 2003 Honda Civic, and she can’t begin to figure out how many hours she’s driven — but one year she put 100,000 kilometres on the clock . It’s not a big car — enough for her, her keyboard, and a couple of suitcases. But it’s carried her from Edmonton to Toronto and back at least half a dozen time, not to mention crossing the Rockies for gigs, and traipsing out to the Maritimes. She has played just about everywhere. House concerts, big festivals & some really cool small ones, the Toronto Women’s Blues Revue at Massey Hall, hotel lounges and bars like the Dakota, the Horseshoe in Toronto, and the Commercial back home in Edmonton, Folk clubs, “listening rooms” like Hugh’s Room Live, and even a series of “couch concerts” in peoples’ houses in southern BC.

She was nominated for Edmonton Music Awards as “Artist to Watch” and “Female Artist of the Year” in 2013 and 2014 and her achievement as semi-finalist at the 30th International Blues Challenge in Memphis (where she represented northern Alberta). Oh, and a nomination for a 2016 Maple Blues Award for best new artist of the year.

Imagine a singer, songwriter and player touched by the music of Tom Waits, Memphis Slim, Nina Simone, Bonnie Raitt, and some people say she sounds a little like Eva Cassidy (“I do?” she queries). She listens to old blues, edgy indie artists, sixties r&b, piano players with chops and soul, and the classic American songwriters.

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