For many, a childhood spent playing make-believe and writing stories is just that. But for Jen Vanderlyn, Celtic-Rock musician and Connecticut native, it was practice for a future career.
“When I was a child, I rarely spent a day as myself,” Jen said. “Usually, I pretended to be someone or something else, from a different time, a different country, or a different world – and for every person I pretended to be, every place I visited in my mind, I wrote a story.”
She never stopped writing. Instead, she built on that childhood passion by developing another: music. At age 11, Jen picked up the guitar and began writing songs after teaching herself the basics of the instrument. And though she’d been singing since the age of two, at 13 she was accepted into Connecticut’s Region 6 choir and began formal vocal training.
Jen’s musical studies continued through high school and college – before attending Nashville’s Belmont University for music business, Jen studied voice and guitar at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. During those years, 2005 to 2012, she also toured New England and the tri-state area, performing with her sister, Kate Vanderlyn, as part of the folk-rock duo Free Thought. She and Kate released In Her Eyes, Free Thought’s only album to date, in 2009.
While her first endeavors into songwriting led her to emulate writers like Donovan and James Taylor, her scope of influence has since broadened – she cites her biggest influences as The Who, Fairport Convention, and Queen – and her songwriting has developed into a pop-rock niche combining the best elements of medieval folklore and fairy tales, proto-punk and Pete Townshend, into a retro British rock sound with a distinctly Celtic twist.
Jen has brought her unique style to venues around the Northeast, most recently as part of Infinity Hall’s Big Stage talent competition in Norfolk, Conn., and with The Away Team revue, a group based out of Stamford, Conn., featuring Jen as one of several up-and-coming Connecticut singer/songwriters. Jen is currently promoting 2014 release Ostara, an eclectic collection of Celtic-rock fairy tales.