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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Jamie Jo Harris, Songwriter

The newest lifetime member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Jamie Jo Harris is poised to be the next It Girl of the music industry.

Jamie Jo’s talent was recently recognized by legendary, nine-time Grammy Award-winning producer Rudy Pérez, who, following the receipt of her hit album In Violet (Odin Media), hand-picked Jamie Jo to compose a song to be presented to Leona Lewis. In addition, Pérez, along with his team, selected five songs from the collection to present to artists he works closely with, including Beyonce and Madonna.

Capable of scorching dance floor, house party and iPod alike, Jamie Jo's current album, In Violet, delivers a lip-glossed kiss of catchy modern electro in the vein of Kylie Minogue and Goldfrapp, seared with a blistering edge. Seminal moments -- intense, ambrosial -- make up In Violet's compilation of 13 songs. While electro is the dominant genre, it's a sonically diverse assortment. Jamie Jo's debut single, "U Turn Me On," is pop confection duet with legendary vocalist Barry Gibb of Bee Gees fame. The song, which she performed in front of 350 guests at the title’s debut event hosted by her godmother Nikki Haskell and renowned filmmaker Brett Ratner in September 2008 at the Beverly Hills Hotel, climbed its way to the top of pop and dance charts; a remix version becoming #2 on Seattle’s hit list. Jamie Jo is now working with Pérez on her third album.

Jamie Jo was fortunate to be surrounded by superb pop tunes in her childhood. Her parents exposed her to a number of prolific musicians, including The Bee Gees and Frank Sinatra in person. At the young age of 14, nine years after she composed her first song, Jamie Jo presented her beloved work to family friend Barry Gibb. Impressed by her burgeoning talent, Gibb took her under his wing and after several years of tutelage in The Bee Gee’s recording studio helped develop her songs into becoming commercial tunes for major Florida department stores including Burdines. At the same time she began working with seasoned producer/studio engineer/musician John Merchant.

She cites American icons Madonna, Elvis Presley, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson and Prince as early favorites, while UK acts Portishead and Everything But the Girl dominated her teens and later influenced her songwriting. She also credits the city of Miami Beach itself as an inspiration: sanguine moments on the beach, in nightclubs, and with friends, family and romantic partners.

Jamie Jo explored and immersed herself in creative fields throughout her youth, traveling at length in the process. At 17, she embarked on a rigorous European art tour of the masters. Back home in the U.S., she actively pursued her artistic passions through songwriting and recording music.

Although music is her muse, Jamie Jo dedicates herself to philanthropic endeavors and enjoys volunteering. She is a founder and the first President of the Young Society for Love & Hope-Diabetes Research. Jamie Jo recently hosted a successful charity fashion show event for Luca Luca to benefit juvenile diabetes, and is active in the Children’s Home Society, among other organizations.

Jamie Jo studied photography at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, and majored in art history at the University of Miami. We are convinced future success will be hers and are pleased to present her as our latest Mover and Shaker!

Peachy Deegan interviewed Jamie Jo for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What was the first song you wrote?
Jamie Jo: The first song that I wrote was titled “Superman,” which was used for a Burdines (now known as Macy’s) radio commercial.

What is your first musical memory?
My first musical memories go back to when I would spend a lot of time at Maurice Gibb’s home writing songs with his daughter, Samantha.

What was Barry Gibb like to work with and how did you start to work together? Working with Barry Gibb has been an amazing experience for me. It all started when I was very young and presented a song I had written that impressed him. He told me to keep up the good work… I did, and then began working with him in the studio alongside his producer John Merchant. Although Barry Gibb is one of the best entertainers and songwriters in the world, he was not intimidating to work with. Barry is very professional and a great teacher.

What are your future ambitions?
My goal is to be a songwriter for major artists. I am currently working with nine-time Grammy Award-winning producer Rudy Perez to present a song to Leona Lewis. Additionally, I am currently working with designer Rosalina to create a signature jewelry line. I am very much looking forward to seeing the fruition of these items, particularly the jewelry line, as a portion of the proceeds with benefit several charities.

What artists would you like to collaborate with and why?
I would absolutely love to work with Sade. I have always appreciated the sound of her voice and her music.

Who are your greatest musical influences?
The Bee Gees have no doubt been my largest musical influence. Others include Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Elton John and the Rolling Stones. They are all prolific songwriters whom I greatly admire.

How would you describe your songs to someone who has not heard them?
My music is international, modern, contemporary and very sensual.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
My favorite place in Manhattan is Central Park. Taking a walk is always uplifting and inspirational.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
My favorite shopping in Manhattan is definitely Barney’s New York – a trip to New York would not be complete without a visit. Lunch at Fred’s is also a must.

What is your favorite drink?
I enjoy a glass of champagne, my favorite is Tattinger, Rose.

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
Le Cirque is my favorite classic New York restaurant. The overall dining experience is phenomenal – it’s the perfect touch of European flavor in NYC.

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
My favorite Manhattan book is Sex and the City, of course.

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
I enjoy visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I’m a New Yorker at heart, having spent the larger part of my childhood living in The Regency. I also studied photography at Tisch School of Arts.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
Readers can visit and contact me at

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