Jennifer Cutting

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Known for her tranquil, ethereal, quietly reflective approach to folk-rock, Jennifer Cutting is an American composer and producer who gets a lot of creative inspiration from the British Isles. Cutting…
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Known for her tranquil, ethereal, quietly reflective approach to folk-rock, Jennifer Cutting is an American composer and producer who gets a lot of creative inspiration from the British Isles. Cutting brings a long list of influences to the table -- some from England (Fairport Convention, Maddy Prior, June Tabor & the Oysterband, Jacqui McShee, the Strawbs, and the late Sandy Denny), some from Ireland (the Chieftains, Clannad). But not all of her influences are from the British Isles; her writing also owe something to American songwriters such as Joan Baez and Judy Collins. And some listeners have even compared Cutting's productions to the ethereal work of Irish new age/adult contemporary artist Enya -- a comparison that comes into play because Cutting has such a pastoral style. But unlike Enya, Cutting isn't new age; she is very much a part of folk-rock.

Despite all of her Irish and British influences, Cutting has been a U.S. citizen all her life; she was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in South Florida. Cutting (an arranger who plays acoustic piano, electric keyboards, accordion, and Hammond organ) has some Irish and Celtic heritage, but unlike many Irish-Americans, she did not have a staunchly Catholic upbringing; interestingly, she was raised in the Hindu faith, which is unusual for a U.S. citizen whose ancestry can be traced back to the British Isles. And her lyrics have a very spiritual quality that draws on not only Hinduism and Eastern religion, but also on Celtic mythology. Cutting, however, doesn't perform her own songs exclusively; she also includes some traditional Celtic songs (which are in the public domain) in her repertoire.

After reaching adulthood, Cutting spent some time overseas; she studied ethnomusicology at the University of London, where she was a student of British folk icon A.L. Lloyd (who died in 1982 and was a mentor to Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention, and many other British folkies). When Cutting returned to the U.S., she ended up moving back to the Washington, D.C., area; Cutting went on to become a fixture on the D.C. folk scene both as a musician and a producer and has won more than a dozen WAMMIES (Washington Area Music Awards). Many of those awards were for her work with the New St. George, a British folk-rock band that she assisted from 1986-1996; she can be heard on their 1994 album High Tea. Cutting heads her own independent label, SunSign Records; Cutting's 2004 SunSign release, Ocean: Songs for the Night Sea Journey features vocals by former Steeleye Span singer Maddy Prior.