Jennifer Avalon: Ten Questions

Q: Jennifer, you’ve wrapped up recording Atrium,….tell us about it…the songs, and the style.

A: Well, this CD has more songs on it than usual…12 to be exact. Overall I would say it has a kind of “Americana” feel to it…though there is a song called Moon Over Tuscany that I wrote in remembrance of Luciano Pavarotti, which has a European feel to it. But I did a cover of the classic Shenandoah, with original arrangements, and there’s an original song called America,…so, overall it has that “Americana” feel I would say. I really enjoyed making it.

Q: You release and post your songs as they are being recorded. Why do you not wait until the album is complete?

A: Ha! It takes around a month to write, arrange, record, and master each song…why keep myself and my audience waiting until the whole shebang is complete? Who has the time to wait anymore?

Q: I hear you. Tell us a little about your original songs, and the traditional standards you recorded.

A: You mean, what are the original songs about? A whole spectrum of things. I don’t write anything unless I feel I have something to say. Just to write a song to say I’ve written one is silly to me. Each one has to mean something, to me. As far as the cover songs like Loch Lomond, it’s a real honor and privilege to be able to take a beloved song from the past and put a fresh spin on it, and let it back out into the world to be rediscovered.

Q: So many of your songs are very popular, like Island Waters, and One Good Deed, and Milk and Honey,…why do you think they have so much longevity?

A: Well, Island Waters, for instance, takes a person to the ocean and to a Heavenly place…at least, that’s what I was trying to accomplish! I guess it worked! With all the natural disasters that befall this planet, I think that’s why One Good Deed stands out to the fans. Milk and Honey is my experience with being born again. I think many people can relate to that.

Q: Peace In the Valley, Crossroads, Paradox, Atrium,…what does each album mean to you?

A: Different times in my life. Each album represents different phases of my experience…like a little time capsule!

Q: Indeed. Do you enjoy doing videos?

A: Initially I was hesitant because it’s one thing to be behind the scenes, in a sense, and another to be in front…you know what I mean? But the experience has been great…I’m looking forward to the next video actually. They are a challenge, and another form of expression for the music. By challenge I mean that they involve a different set of creative endeavor than just sitting down and writing a song….but that’s fine.

Q: I understand a movie is in the works for next year with you in the main role.

A: Where did you hear that? That’s supposed to be Top Secret!

 Q: Oh, sorry! I guess someone on your team spoke too soon.

A: That’s okay…happens all the time.

Q: Okay…your essays mean a lot to people. Where do you get the inspiration?

A: Have you ever watched a rock sitting in the middle of a stream, and watched the water flowing over and around it? The rock stays in one place, but the water constantly is swirling over and around it. That’s how inspiration feels to me. I can sit still, and suddenly I feel this flow of information…I guess I could call it information, like water, and it has to be translated into either words, or sound. Does that make sense?

Q: Well, yes, although I am more of a nuts and bolts type of person. But I love your analogy! Music, essays, books, videos, movies…what’s next for Jennifer Avalon?

A: A vacation! (laughter) No, I’m just kidding. Why, is there anything else I should be doing?

Q: I can’t think of it!

A: Well, that’s good! (laughter)

Q: What will the next CD, Clarion, sound like?

A: The first song has already been recorded and is at the site. It’s called Marci, and I am really pleased how it turned out. The second song has already been recorded, an instrumental, and I am working on the third, at the moment. I just write from the heart…I don’t really know the overall shape of the CD until it’s complete. Then I usually notice a particular flavor.

Q: Wonderful. Thanks so much Jennifer for taking the time to answer my questions.

A: You’re welcome. Hope to do this again soon.

Q: For sure.

Interview January 2006

Interviewer (Q) It’s been awhile…how are you?

Jennifer (A) I’m fine, thank you….and you?

Q. I’m well, thanks. I know we are going to discuss all subjects, music, essays, websites and the forthcoming video page. With all the changes at the websites, how has the past year been for you with your music and essays?

A: I feel very blessed because the number of hits to both sites is now over 4 million a year…I mean it’s really incredible. I still remember when I first began 8 years ago, and 32 people would visit my site and I would be thrilled…can you imagine how I feel now? And I still have most, if not all, of those original 32 people receiving the newsletter. I feel very, very blessed.

Q. Tell us a little about how both websites have grown?

A: Well, I think they’ve grown because I’m always adding new stuff to the sites….new quotes during the week, an essay every other week, um…. a new song a month, updates to the pages, and now I will be adding free video of the songs and essays in January, which I am very excited about. I remember the last interview I said that would happen, and that I would finally have to comb my hair….just kidding of course!

Q. Yes, I remember you mentioning that. You completed your CD “Crossroads” this year, how did it feel premiering a new song each month while it was being recorded?

A: I like it better than waiting until the record is entirely completed before sharing the songs with my fans. It just feels like a more natural process….I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because a year is a long time to keep music in a box!

Q. You let people hear and download your music for free. How has that worked out.?

A: I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think there is an alternative. With file-sharing going on, an artist doesn’t really have much say in the matter anymore. But then again they never had much say with the record companies either. But my fans are very loyal, and they do donate, which I really appreciate. Can I take this moment to mention that all donations are truly appreciated?

Q.Of course you can! Your essays have touched quite a few people, some even highlight them on their personal websites. How does that make you feel?

A: I am mind blown by some of the responses to my essays. And to my music. I cry when I read certain letters from people. One man recently wrote me that he played my version of the song “Amazing Grace” at his son’s funeral…I mean, that really touched me. One person wrote that one of my essays stopped him from committing suicide. Another person said that she wants to play my song, “Two Hearts” at her wedding, thousands of miles away. This keeps me going, let me tell you. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Q. Can you say a few words about the amount of music that has been downloaded from your websites?

A: Oh, I thought I answered that already. Over 4 million hits to the sites a year, so I had to open another sister site, There was too much bandwidth being used up on just one site! The one site had to shut down briefly because of overload, so that’s when I decided it was time to open another site. It’s working out great now.

Q. What can we look forward to this coming year?

A: Well, as I mentioned, the biggest thing will be the free videos. We’ve been working very hard on them, filming all over the place and stuff. It’s very cold here in the northeast right now, so it’s been a bit of a challenge here and there, but, as they say, the show must go on! Each song has a different type of video for it, because each song has a different kind of mood. It’s really interesting to see what happens when one decides to combine visual with audio…I absolutely love the process.

Q. How has the free business model worked out for you?

A: Free is the way to go, because it reaches all over the globe. There is no barrier to free. But one must know how to live somewhat humbly to be able to afford to do it, if you know what I mean.

Q. Humbly? How so?

A: Well, I think in general it’s just wise to try to live humbly. Not be a pig.

Q. Well, I don’t think I’m going to touch that one! Tell us about your next CD “Paradox”? I understand the first song from the sessions will be the January song of the month.

A: Thanks for asking….the next song is called, “Darkest Before the Dawn.” I’m in the middle of recording it as we speak, as a matter of fact. It will be released January.

Q. Music, essays, and videos….any movies in the future?

A: Movies? Well, I guess if someone sees me and thinks I can be an actress….I wouldn’t say no to a great part (laughter) I mean, I don’t really think that way. My videos are a way to express visually what I am trying to convey in my songs…you know what I mean? I have been stopped on the street in my life by people who’ve thought they’ve seen me from somewhere….they think they’ve seen me on t.v. or in the movies or something. The same thing used to happen to my Dad. I guess we both have a certain type of look or something.

Q. What does Jennifer Avalon like to do in her spare time?

A: I particularly like this question…thanks for asking it. When I’m not writing or recording, my favorite thing to do, I think, is to play with my doggies, and cook. I also love to read, especially at night, when it’s dark outside and I can lay in bed under warm covers with a good reading light. I also like certain television shows, like “24”, and “The 4400” and a few others.

Q. Understood. 2006 is looking like a big year for you. What will the introduction of videos bring to the music and essay pages?

A: Video is a whole different “animal.” It adds another dimension, I feel, to the music, and to the essays. The music will become three dimensional, in a sense, and the essays will have a new life….I will be recording them with my voice, and with visuals. I am so excited about adding this dimension…it’s not only fun, but I feel like my fans will get to know me better, and vice-versa. There are some wonderful people out there, let me tell you. I wish I could personally meet everyone who visits my sites, but of course that would be an impossibility.

Q. As a final question, what would you like to say to the folks who visit your websites?

A: If I can give even just one second of happiness to those who visit my sites, then I will feel I have “done my job.” Peace of mind is everything, and that’s what I wish most of all for those who come to listen and feel and see, at my sites.

Q. Thanks Jennifer, much continued success. I feel peaceful just having been around you today…thanks.

A: You’re very welcome….have a wonderful week. Don’t get too stressed’s crazy out there right now!

Q. I won’t. Thanks again.

A: You’re welcome. Take care…. bye bye.

Interview May 2004

Q: Tell us how things are going with the website and the free music model.

J: Well, the free music model works, as far as bringing tremendous amounts of traffic to my website. I would say the amount of visitors has at least tripled since I’ve gone free. Also, more pages are looked at, because I have added more content over time. Also, the donation model shows me that there are appreciative people out there.

Q: People seem to want CD’s of the new album and others. I understand all of the albums will go on sale with bonus tracks this Fall?

J: The thing is this, not everyone has the capacity to download off the Internet, so some of my fans have been requesting that I at least make the sale of my CD’s an option… so I will be providing that. Both free, and for sale, depending on what a person prefers. Of course if someone purchases one (for a low price, naturally), they will be getting the artwork on the CD, and a list of the songs, and an autograph, etc. I figure if somebody is kind enough to buy the CD, I might as well sign it! As far as bonus tracks on the CD’s for sale, yes, I plan on adding some…just to make them special.

Q: Will there still be new songs of the month?

J: Of course…I will still put a new free song up every month…I really enjoy doing that, and it keeps me creating in the studio.

Q: There are now two websites… why is that?

J: People were downloading so many songs that I ran out of what is called “storage space,” at my website….it was actually becoming a problem! So the only way I could manage was to have someone set up another sister site. It is working out great….

Q: How successful has the free downloading been?

J: Well, I think I kind of just answered that… so successful I had to add a new website!

Q: I understand you’ve had top ten hits at

J: I am very moved by that, because the competition is quite tremendous there. I have a number one hit in Brazilian Jazz, with four more in the top ten there, and a number one hit in Smooth Jazz, and others in the top twenty there, and number two at Christian music…with others in their top twenty there too. I am very flattered, because there are some artists on the charts that I consider very good.

Q: With the newsletter about to enter it’s 8th year, what kind of response have you gotten regarding the essays?

J: The essays connect me to a huge audience around the world…because even if someone isn’t interested in music per se, or can’t download, they can still read text… and now with my essays also in blog form at the new website,, it has opened the essays up to a whole new generation that loves blogs. A number of religious organizations thank me for the essays….that always makes me feel great.

Q: Can you share some thoughts you have on your music and essays?

J: How do you mean?

Q: For instance, where does the inspiration come from?

J: Ah, the mystery question (laughter) Where does all creativity come from… that is perhaps what you’re really asking, if you don’t mind me saying so. If you believe that a person can allow themselves to be open to the goodness of the Universe, then maybe I’ve answered your question….

Q: Well, that’s a mysterious answer to a mysterious question I guess!

J: It’s really very simple. Faith.

Q: I hear you. What can we look forward to from you this year?

J: After I complete the final song for “Peace in the Valley,” I am going to take a little break music-wise to prepare for the beginning of another new CD in the Fall. I will still write and send out the weekly essay, and the website will be continuously updated, but I need a little break to write some more songs for the next CD…I don’t even have a title for it yet. Also, I want to have a little time to get a suntan!!

Q: So there will be more new music in the Fall?

J: Absolutely….I am the happiest when I am writing and recording…..

Q: You had mentioned in our last interview something about doing videos at some point…

J: Oh yeah, that’s in the pipeline….the technology is moving towards what it is I am looking for.

Q: Please keep us posted as to when that will happen.

J: Sure.

Q: Thank you Ms Avalon…always a pleasure to talk with you.

J: The pleasure is mine. Thank you for being interested.

Interview October 2003

Q: So Jennifer, some changes since we last spoke!

J: Yes….pretty radical to give all my music away for free, huh?

Q: Well, yes, as a matter of fact. Why are you letting people download for free?

J: As I mentioned in a letter at my website, I believe the entertainment model is broken. The Internet file sharing folks will just keep coming up with new ways around anything that tries to block them….and it is becoming a war between the record companies, who, I think, are foolishly trying to sue the very people they need to keep their business model going, and the customer, who feels that record store prices for music are too high, and access too limited. What happens to the music lover who wants to find a copy of a song written in the 1940s, for instance, that he can’t find in the record stores….the Internet is the only place, and that’s where people have been sharing music for a while.

Q: Yes, forty-million people a week, apparently. Tell us a little about your donation model that you have at your site now.

J: Ah yes….I’ve decided to depend on the kindness of others to keep it going….I have a lot of traffic at my website, and every little bit will help and really add up eventually….that’s how I figure it. And who knows? Maybe I’ll get lucky and make as much or more than I did when selling my CD’s. I also like the idea that when something is given away for free, more people have access to it. I really am basically a public library sort of girl:)

Q: Public library? How do you mean…

J: Well, the concept of a lending library is very wonderful, to me. People can come and go, like file sharing on the Internet…. exchanging music, exchanging ideas, for free….but the library depends on donations to keep it going. Some of the most wonderful things in our society are based on free, but kept going by donations. Do you know what I mean? There’s something good about letting people decide what they think something is worth….instead of telling them what it’s worth….know what I mean?

Q: Yes….I suppose you could say that television in it’s early stages went through that process….it was free, but advertisers picked up the tab.

J: Yes.

Q: What do you see ahead for yourself and the website?

J: Lots of stuff….I am currently recording a new album, so I will be putting up a new song from it every few weeks, on the website. The CD will be called, “Peace In The Valley”….I am very excited about it, and am loving recording it. Down the line I will be making little mini-videos, which I think I mentioned in the last interview. God willing, of course!:)

Q: You have a strong sense of Faith, don’t you….that seems to come across even as I sit here with you….

J: People sometimes say that they feel a sense of peace around me….is that what you mean?

Q: Yes. It’s also in your music.

J: The Arts are God-given, as far as I’m concerned. That’s why they should be free….and that’s why the people should be given the chance to determine their value….

Q: It’s quite a different approach in music delivery…

J: Yes, and some people are going to tell me I’m nuts!!

Q: Well, I think you’re a unique and brave soul.

J: We shall see!! No, I’m just kidding….most people are really honorable, believe me.

Q: Exciting times ahead for you Jennifer….I’ll be watching….we all will.

J: Thanks so much.

Interview February 2003

Q: Bring us up to date on what’s been going on

A: Okay. I’ve been working on new songs for my next CD actually, and continuing to write and send out my free newsletter…not to mention taking care of my many doggies

Q: Yes, I’ve heard you’re quite the dog lover!

A: Quite the animal lover, really

Q: Tell us about your new recording

A: I am very excited about this next CD. I am enjoying making this one as much as I enjoyed recording my Christmas CD “Sounds of Bethlehem.” There will be original songs, and also I’m doing a few cover songs of some of my favorites from the past, like “Amazing Grace,” for instance. It is an acoustic album….I’m really enjoying it.

Q: That’s great. Can’t wait to have a listen to it. How do you feel about the current music conditions?

A: That’s a loaded question! The music business is in a real upheaval. Many artists feel they got “taken” by their labels, over the years, and music buyers are becoming used to getting music for free on the Internet, and feel angry at the record labels for, in some cases, trying to sue the Internet music swappers. I say, why sue the very people you want to sell to? Kind of silly, don’t you think? At the same time, artists need to be compensated. Art and commerce are like oil and water…they have a tough time blending together.

Q: How do you think it will all end up?

A: Well, there will probably be compromises along the way. The good part of it is that the playing field is being leveled, meaning, more artists can have their music heard because of the Internet, without having to go through the old ways of distribution, which, frankly, have been somewhat corrupted over the years.

Q: Speaking of distribution, are there plans for an Avalon Store?

A: A store? To sell music, you mean?

Q: Yes…on the Internet.

A: Sure. I am going to sell directly at my website, aside from at MP3 and other Internet venues.

Q: Your free newsletter is almost 7 years old now….how do you feel about it?

A: I love writing those essays for my newsletter…it gives me a chance to become very focused on certain topics and issues. There is so much going on in the world and in our lives these days…I too need a chance to take a deep breath once in a while and just “think.” I have a very devoted following with the newsletter…I just love those people. A lot of them feel like friends at this point, even though I’ve never actually seen them or met them….just from sharing thoughts. It’s great. That’s the real beauty of the Internet…the human connections.

Q: What can we look forward to from your website in the future?

A: Well, aside from selling the records at my website, I am also continuing to put up a new quote daily from the essays, and soon there will be video capability where I will perform some of my stuff in video format…so folks can see me making a fool of myself…just kidding!

Q: We can look forward to seeing you “live…in the flesh?”

A: As close to live as you can get…behind a screen, so to speak.. video. Maybe I’ll put one of my doggies in the video.. would you like that?

Q: Sure.. anything to see you live!

A: That’s very sweet of you.

Q: Thanks so much Jennifer….we wish you all the best of luck with everything you do.

A: Thank you.

Interview January 2003

Q: What’s been happening for you in the past couple of years?

A: Oh boy, that’s a big question. Personally, a lot has happened…my Dad passed away, I moved, and, for all of us, there was 9/11. As far as my career, it has been doing very well…I have been in the top ten at Boston radio, which services Harvard and MIT, etc., for quite awhile now. Friends tell me they hear my songs being played in retail stores and restaurants…especially this past Christmas.

Q: Tell me about MP3, and your music.

A: Okay. Well, I’ve had quite a bit of success at MP3. I’ve had five number ones, which I am grateful for. The spoken word essays seem to be doing well too…

Q: That was my next question. What has been the impact of your essays?

A: Recently someone wrote to me through e-mail, telling me my essays helped to save their life….it doesn’t get much better than that! I sometimes wonder if the people who say these things to me realize how much good it is for me to hear that, too. One wonders how their music and essays are affecting others, you know?

Q: Seeing that you’re originally from sunny California, how does it feel being settled in the Northeast?

A: As a child, growing up in the almost permanent sunshine of Southern California, I used to look in my history books at the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth, and the first Thanksgiving, and how the leaves were all gold and orange and red, and I used to feel a longing to experience that part of the United States…well, funny enough, here I ended up, in Massachusetts! I think often the things we long for as kids end up being a part of our lives later on, if we pursue our hearts. I plan on visiting Plymouth this year.

Q: Tell us a little about your upcoming projects.

A: 2003 will be a busy year for me. I plan to release a new CD called, “Letters from the Library,” which will have lyrics that parallel the essays. Later, in the Fall, my “Americana” CD will be released. I’m very excited about this. Traditional American music with a little twist. Periodically, new audio essays will be added to the website.

Q: I would like to ask you for some comments regarding some of your songs. specifically: Silent Witness, Prayer for Peace, your Christmas CD and Third Planet from The Sun?

A: “Silent Witness” was written for a couple who were separated by death….and how the one who has departed is still watching…is now the “Silent Witness.” Basically it’s about how we are never separated from loved ones, even when they pass on.

Q: And Prayer for Peace?”

A: “Prayer for Peace” has to do with the longing for peace in the world. The setting is the Middle East…..Jerusalem actually. I was there once, so as I wrote it I visualized sort of having a “birds-eye-view,” trying to see the bigger picture.

Q: Tell me a little about your Christmas CD, “Sounds of Bethlehem.”

A: That was pure joy to record, because I got to do my own interpretation of what I feel are some of the most beautiful songs in the world. I chose traditional Christmas songs…it was a holy experience for me, recording that one.

Q: And “Third Planet from The Sun?”

A: Again, a desire for mankind to see that we are being watched by God….and we are a globe spinning through space, the third planet from the sun, forever observed.

Q: It sounds like you’ve been quite personally involved with your songs. How does it feel, and how successful has it been, with the essays being available in audio?

A: The recorded essays are an interesting phenomena…I wasn’t sure how they would do initially, because sometimes people are turned off by the spoken word. But people seem to be really enjoying them, which is wonderful. “Faith” has been number one on the charts for quite awhile, at

Q: I guess you have to ask yourself, how long will it be before video streaming will become available at your website?

A: Well, I guess that’ll mean I have to brush my hair more often! It’s kind of nice being a bit incognito, but soon people will be able to see me perform in streaming video at my website, for sure. That’s the plan for the future….

Q: Tell us a little about Avalon Notes, and some of the other new website pages.

A: Avalon Notes will be about my thoughts on the topics of the day. It could be my take on world problems, politics, human rights, etc. Not trying to preach…but trying to express thoughts and solutions.

Q: How has the Internet evolved for your website over the past few years?

A: You know what’s really weird? The Internet seems to be coming towards me….I don’t even seem to have to go towards it. As the technology improves, so do my plans to reach more people….it just seems like an organic and natural progression.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting their own website?

A: First, don’t even think about doing it unless it is a passion, and you are willing to put time into it. Otherwise, it’s not worth the time and effort, really. You have to love being a part of the global community….because you do reach worldwide.

Q: What can we look forward to in your future writings?

A: Stay tuned…..there’s a lot more to come!

Q: I understand you have a few dogs…how have they affected your life?

A: I have several shih-tzu’s…they are Tibetan dogs, who are actually more like my children….each one has their own personality….they are so kind, and lovable, and at the same time, great little watchdogs. I think it’s healthy to give and to receive as much unconditional love in one’s life as possible….pets provide that opportunity.