A dream come true: Jazz musician Terry Jenoure of Northfield to embark on Northeast tour this summer 


Staff Writer

Published: 03-31-2023 5:20 PM

NORTHFIELD — Having recently received a $10,564 grant, jazz musician Terry Jenoure is set to make a years-long dream come true with a tour spanning the Northeast this summer.

Jenoure, of Northfield, was awarded the grant in February by Atlanta-based nonprofit South Arts. She is one of 12 artists nationwide to receive a Winter 2023 Jazz Road Artists grant. Funded by the Doris Duke and Mellon Foundations, the broader Jazz Road Tours program “annually supports approximately 50 jazz artists ... to cover a portion of tour expenses and tighten the pay gap between artists and presenters,” according to an announcement.

A Bronx, New York-raised multidisciplinary artist, who has musical roots deep in the Free Jazz movement, Jenoure will be joined by Arizona native Angelica Sanchez, a pianist and composer who first worked with her at the Shea Theater in the mid-2010s. Their tour will present Jenoure’s “Secret to Life,” an immersive composition of musical composition, prompted writing, ritual staging and more.

“I always like it when someone takes an idea and re-imagines it,” Sanchez said. “Maybe it’s a poem, maybe it’s a story … but it turns into something very personal.”

Material and inspiration have been derived from women of color and “their secrets and their stories that have not been viewed publicly,” explained Jenoure, who is of Puerto Rican and Jamaican descent. She explained that she spent a large amount of time interviewing women of color — who volunteered their perspectives and will remain anonymous — about their experiences.

“On stage, the performances are rich in media as well as in intellectual and emotional impact,” reads a description posted to the website of Creative Capital Foundation, which funded Jenoure’s project. “To this end, the elder ensemble becomes a healing conduit, offering catharsis through instrumental and lyrical sound.”

“How I work is using structures that allow for tremendous amounts of spontaneity ...” Jenoure said. “It’s a project I’ve dreamed about for a couple years, and things opened up.”

Moving from New York to the Pioneer Valley in 1974, Jenoure nurtured her musicianship as a student at UMass Amherst before eventually earning masters and doctoral degrees in education with a focus on cultural diversity and the arts. She spent the 1980s back in New York City, the environment’s musical “competition and grit” providing a “sort of exposure to a broader range of creative, artistic ideas.” She then returned to the Valley and served as the director of the Augusta Savage Gallery at UMass Amherst from 1990 until her retirement from the role in 2020. She lived in Greenfield for 21 years before moving to Northfield in 2017.

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“I am so grateful to live in a place that’s not in a rush where people are kind to each other,” Jenoure said. “Generally speaking, this is an easy place to live. This is a place where I can create.”

Sanchez praised Jenoure for her ability to slow down and work out of the spotlight through the years, all while juggling responsibilities as a scholar and as an educator. 

“Terry has been someone that has not cared about such things and has continued to make great music with or without recognition, so it’s nice that she’s being recognized,” Sanchez said, celebrating the forthcoming tour as an opportunity for Jenoure’s artistry to garner added acclaim. “Her ideas are unique, and I think for many, many years, that was overlooked, musically speaking.”

Having spent years polishing Secret to Life, Jenoure is excited to finally be “looking to give it legs.” Her ensemble begins the tour at Northampton’s BOMBYX Center for Arts & Equity on June 25. Tickets for this event can be purchased online at bombyx.live/events/secret-to-life. After this, the ensemble will perform in Alstead, New Hampshire on June 27 before closing out the tour in Brooklyn, New York on June 28.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or jmendoza@recorder.com.