Specializing in melodic, hook-filled power pop and pop-rock, Jamie Blake is an impressive singer who was born and raised in the Chicago Area but didn't record for A&M until after she moved to New York. Blake, whose phrasing often brings to mind Pat Benatar, studied the piano as a child and was in high school when she started singing covers at open mics and Bar Mitzvahs around Chicago. Blake's first vocal gig came in 1991, when she sang Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Metallica's "Enter Sandman" at a Bar Mitzvah. After graduating from high school, the singer spent a year in Washington, D.C. (where she interviewed Joey Ramone for the University Reporter) before settling in New York in 1994. In Manhattan, Blake earned money by working in an obscure video store and accompanying herself on guitar in Washington Square Park and elsewhere. One of her demos caught the attention of A&M Records, which signed her in 1996 and released her self-titled debut album and its first single, the infectious "Runaway," in August 1997. Blake showed a great deal of promise on that album, but unfortunately, it didn't do nearly as well as it deserved to.
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