Artist’s Spotlight: Jesse Weinberg

Hannah Jastram

Jesse Weinberg has been an increasingly dynamic face in the Lawrence singer-songwriter circuit. His multi-instrumental talents combined with his rich soulful voice have managed turned countless heads toward his well-crafted music. Since his days crooning in the hallways of Plantz, Jesse has continued to shape his music into something truly his own.Where are you from and what is your major?

I’m from Wauwatosa, Wis., and my major is choral/general music education.

How and when did you start playing music?

Both of my parents are musicians. They’ve been singing to me since I was born, and since I could, I’ve been singing back. I used to sit in the church pews, watching my parents sing in their choirs. After rehearsal they would always ask, “How did it sound, Jesse?” To which I would shake my head and always respond, “Bad” – more for a laugh than a musical critique.

When did you become interested in songwriting?

I wrote my first song for the Wisconsin statewide Reflections contest in the fourth grade. I won first place for a song entitled, “Jesse’s Gift.” Since then, my songwriting has been inspired by school projects, trying to get girls to like me, and lately the real things that happen to me. Songwriting has become a therapy for me. There are things that I can say with words, but there are 10 times as many things that I can say with words through songs. I probably wouldn’t be where I am if I didn’t get a lot of things out in songs.

What artists or performers have been particularly inspirational to you?

I suppose I have to go and say John Lennon. The way he used music to touch people is a legacy he will have forever. The rest of the Beatles have also been an inspiration, especially George Harrison. I find a lot of inspiration in songwriters of the past: Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Harry Chapin and Bob Dylan. However, I try to listen to every kind of music I can and incorporate that into my voice as an artist.

Can you tell us a little bit about your group Sestetto?

Sestetto is a vocal sextet that performs early vocal music, as well as new music that is being written now for the medium. We’ve performed works by Tallis, Byrd, Metcalf and Moody as well as Scott Sandersfeld, the bass in our group. I love working with other singers in such a close and tight group. We also have a lot of fun.

What do you hope to accomplish with your music?

One of the best compliments I can receive is that someone had one of my songs stuck in their heads. The repetitive nature of music is what makes it powerful. When something I write can be so powerful, I feel like I’ve accomplished something great. It’s a big responsibility as well as a challenge to write a good song.