STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
A singer/songwriter from Gwynedd Valley has been where an unfathomable number of 16-year-olds have only dreamed of going.
The Grammy Foundation flew Jess Araten, a junior at Germantown Academy, to Los Angeles to perform in front of about 1,200 people (by her count) at Club Nokia for a “Grammy in the Schools Live!” concert Feb. 4 that was headlined by country music star Hunter Hayes.
Araten performed during this Grammy Awards Week event as a member of the Grammy Camp Alumni Band. “You have to audition for it. (The band was) me and seven kids from around the country who had done the summer camp,” said the one-time School of Rock National All Star in a phone interview.
According to a press release from Germantown Academy, last summer’s Grammy Camp had Araten spending nine days in Brooklyn at the Converse Rubber Tracks Studio. She was one of only two guitarists present getting valuable instruction from Grammy-winning/nominated musicians, producers and industry professionals.
Now back at home, her “bluesy, funky, alternative” band The Third Rail has performed their original music at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia and The Rusty Nail in Ardmore.
The drummer and bassist in the band are also students at G.A., she said; and for now, it’s academics that are in the spotlight. “Junior year is really crazy. Everybody’s studying for SATs,” said Araten. To find out when the young rockers are playing next, go to www.facebook.com/JessAratenMusic.
Besides touring with the School of Rock National All Stars, who recently opened for Norah Jones’ new group Puss N Boots, Araten plays guitar in the jazz band and musical pit bands at school. When performing solo at coffee houses, Araten creates layers of sound playing along with live loops she creates with foot pedal effects units.
“It’s valuable to listen to all types of music,” she said, naming Janis Joplin, Kendrick Lamar, old blues and jazz among her influences.
Although she did not attend the Grammy Awards ceremony itself, she aspires to win one of the coveted mini-gramophone trophies.