Five questions: Jared Feinman

The Philly-based musician on COVID-19 and his upcoming concert on IG

Musician Jared Feinman
Philly-based pianist Jared Feinman has an Instagram concert planned for May 29, which takes the place of his canceled show at The Loft at City Winery. Image | Clay Patrick McBride

Philly-based musician Jared Feinman’s blues-tinged jazz and misty-eyed pop have won fans in both intimate rooms and festival crowds.

With his debut singles and videos – all set for release throughout 2020 – he ups the creative ante: the lyrical vulnerability, perfect pitch, and expressive piano audiences have come to expect are still there but joined by sophisticated ensemble arrangements and bold dashes of theatricality. The effect is sometimes invigorating, sometimes haunting – and always accomplished.

For Feinman, music has always been an inherent force. At age 6, his training began with classical piano, which he learned intensely for 10 years. Born and raised in Newtown Square, an attendant of Radnor High School and graduate of The Hill School, the layered sounds of classical composers, such as Frederic Chopin and Claude Debussy, influenced him. It unlocked a new way of looking at music and ultimately drew him to the slow, groove hums of jazz. 

Feinman studied jazz piano under the renowned jazz educator, the late Jimmy Amadie, who had worked with Mel Torme. 

“I attribute my feel and approach to harmony largely to Jimmy. He was a powerful influence on me as his youngest student when I was only 15,” Feinman said.

He also studied songwriting at Berklee College of Music.

Feinman just released his latest composition “(Let’s Sing For) Love And Be Free. In lieu of his postponed May 29 headlining appearance at The Loft at City Winery, he will be performing a solo, Instagram live virtual concert from his living room on that date. The event will benefit Philly Music Fest’s Micro Grant Initiative with 100 percent of its proceeds going to the charity.

A special limited-edition 10-inch vinyl and “Love And Be Free” T-shirts will be available for purchase through Feinman’s site, with 100 percent of the proceeds also going to Philly Music Fest’s Micro-Grant Initiative.

Aspirational and cinematic, “(Let’s Sing For) Love and Be Free” cries out for reconciliation in the midst of a fractured world. 

“I felt like it was a song I needed to hear – a song that could bring everyone together,” Feinman said. “As an artist, I have a duty to reflect the times.” 

Although written before the global coronavirus pandemic, his artistic intent is purposeful – the song is more timely than ever now with its message of unity and hope.

“Sometimes the true meaning of a song doesn’t come to fruition until long after writing it,” he explained. “As the world begins to reimagine a new normal after COVID-19, this song gains new meaning, giving people hope to come together, using this new anthem to heal the world.”

 Feinman also is in the midst of reaching out to other Philadelphia based artists to help spread the message of the song for a special, live event later this year.

PW recently caught up with Feinman to talk about music and life during the pandemic.

Other than the postponement of your appearance at The Loft at City Winery, how have the stay-at-home orders and closures impacted your music?

The closures have allowed me to ponder the way I live my life and how I navigate this wonderful and mysterious path I’ve chosen in music. I have mostly used this time to write and complete unfinished songs. I typically write in solitude so not much has changed in terms of my process. Over the past few weeks, I have been simplifying my approach. All I need is a pen, paper and a piano. I’ve been using my computer and phone less. Sometimes I will use my Remington typewriter to work on lyrics.

The key for me is turning off distractions. Isolating oneself does not necessarily mean there will be no distractions. In isolation and through eliminating distractions, I can feed the muse. I must first show up and do the work.

In lieu of that gig, you will be performing a solo, Instagram live virtual concert from your living room on May 29 to benefit Philly Music Fest’s Micro-Grant Initiative with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the charity. Talk a little about how that idea came about, how people can tune in to see it, and about your efforts to get other Philly-based artists together for a live event later this year.

On May 1, I announced my nonprofit endeavor, the Love And Be Free Foundation. Each year, we will carefully choose causes and organizations to align with. As a direct response to the (COVID-19) pandemic, we will be providing relief by donating 100 percent of the song’s proceeds to Philly Music Fest’s micro-grant initiative.

Jared Feinman is singing songs and selling shirts to help other local musicians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. | Image: Clay Patrick McBride

This micro-grant program is meant for local musicians who rely on working two (or more) jobs that include playing shows to support themselves and their families. Many of my full-time musician friends in Philly have lost thousands of dollars from not being able to perform due to the crisis.

Anyone who follows me on Instagram will hear more about this special show in the coming weeks. In addition, fans who follow me on Instagram will receive a notification on May 29 when I go live.

I look forward to collaborating with other Philly-based artists in the near future, virtually, using the tools and technologies we have at our disposal to make art.

You recently released “(Let’s Sing For) Love And Be Free.” How did it come together? What’s the reaction been from your fans?

As an artist, my purpose is to reflect the times. In the past, great songs were written to help the world in the course of hardship. My intent with “(Let’s Sing For) Love and Be Free” was to create a new anthem for our generation. Although written a while back in 2017, you may find this song more relevant now than ever.

Recorded over the span of two years with over 25 musicians, this song’s arrangement features a 10-piece string section, a horn section, and a gospel choir from Philadelphia. After recording, I sent the session over to seven-time Grammy winning engineer, Frank Filipetti, who mixed the track.

Love And Be Free is a movement. It requires a community of supporters. I’ve received many pictures of people wearing their “Love And Be Free” shirts. It is beautiful to see how my music can move some people. It’s an honor and I cherish all of those people dearly.

You grew up near Philadelphia. How did the Philly music scene impact your career? Were there any Philly artists who had an influence on your music?

I was born and raised outside of Philadelphia, and my entire family is from the Philadelphia-area. I had a great experience studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston, but I was excited to return home to my city. 

It has been difficult to break into the scene here. I came home from Boston with nothing happening at first. I started out playing various open mics around town, slowly building an audience until the point where I was selling out small listening rooms and bars like Burlap and Bean, 118 North, and The Locks. My May 29 headlining show at City Winery would have marked my largest performance yet. It is currently postponed until Saturday, Oct. 3.

What’s ahead for you, once the pandemic is over? What are the best ways for your fans to keep up with what you’re doing?

One of many things I have been reminded of during this crisis is how uncertain the world can be and how fragile our time is here. With that said, I cannot fathom what lies ahead. I do expect to use live streaming more as a medium to perform for my audience. Streaming from my home is vastly different than playing a live venue. There is no sound engineer, no stage/lights, and no people are in the room with me. 

In a way, streaming can be more daunting. One can see how many people are watching and reading comments in real-time. It has the potential to be a uniquely raw experience. It is something I look forward to embracing as we all embark on this new normal. 

The best way for anyone to connect with me on a deeper level is to sign up on my email list via my website, jaredfeinman.com. I often share my work with this email list before anyone else.

  • Eugene Zenyatta was raised on old-time Memphis 'rasslin' and strongly prefers the company of dogs to people. His greatest heartbreak came in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic.