By day, she’s an account executive with Leighton Broadcasting, a wife and mom of two. And by night, well, she’s a rockstar. No, seriously…a real-life rockstar. She’s the lead singer in a band.
I had the privilege of meeting Jen years ago when we both worked in hospice. This real-life Wonder Woman has got a heart of gold and the voice of an angel. And I am so honored to introduce you to her today.
KR: Hi Jen! Please tell us about what brings you joy and fulfillment.
JL: A work, my passion is helping a small business with their marketing strategy, learning about their business, and working alongside them to create a plan that is best for their business. I work an amazing group of people that are highly motivated and fun!
My personal passion is PERFORMANCE!!! I love being on stage between singing or public speaking. I love interacting with an audience. That is one thing I miss from my previous job–the public speaking piece. Connecting with an audience is so powerful!
KR: You’ve been the lead vocalist with the HoneyBadgers Band for 20 years. What is it like to be in a band while holding down a day job and raising a young family?
JL: I have been blessed to be singing with the same group of 4 guys for 20 years! (And one of those guys is my husband). It is not an easy life. We have missed weddings, birthdays, family vacations, and gatherings because our weekends are booked with shows. Our band is not the stereotypical “garage band.” We work hard, it is a second job for us. I was on stage a week before my first child was born! I was blessed to have another band girl, Carolyn, from Sweet Siren fill in for me for both of my maternity leaves. She was a godsend! The band world is predominately men, so us band women need to stick together.
I love experiencing life with my husband (of 17 years) and children! We like travel, Disney, skiing, dancing, piano, snuggles, and (of course) music.
KR: What would be your dream job?
JL: Be a motivational speaker and travel around the world!
KR: We all have inner superpowers. What are some of yours?
JL: Juggler! Between managing our home schedule, managing full time work and a full time band, I often have many balls in the air! Keeping them up is sometimes hard, but it feels good when everything is running smoothly.
KR: Can you tell us about an influential woman in your life and how she inspired you?
JL: My Grandma Leona lived in the orphanage in Owatonna, Minnesota, until she was found by a family that wanted an older girl to help take care of the family’s children. They treated her well. She met my grandfather playing accordion in a band called the Orioles. She was a hardworking woman being a farmer’s wife, having seven children and a ton of grandchildren. A master of baking, cooking, sewing, family gatherings, crafting and loving us!
There is another influential person I’d like to tell you about. During my freshman year at college (SCSU), I joined a choir for fun and met Dr. Albert Grotell. He had grown up in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) and had been a Music Director in one of the premier theatres in Leningrad. He left in the late 70’s because of political differences and ended up at SCSU as a Russian Professor. Because of his credentials, he was able to conduct the secondary choir called University Singers. He made me the manager the second day of class. This choir was invited to sing in China in 1997 and that is where I fell in love with my husband and made lifelong friends with the guys that I get to play with in the HoneyBadgers.
The choir continued for over 10 years. We formed a non-profit so after people graduated from college, they could still participate. The group traveled and performed twice in Russia and in Alnwick, England for the International Music Festival. Doc passed away a few years ago and as we learned of his health declines, we gathered as many past members as we could and performed for him two more times at the nursing home he was living in. He suffered from dementia and could only communicate in Russian, but when we started singing, he started directing. A true testament to the power of the language of music. It still brings me to tears when I think of the connection we all have–and will always have–even though our lives have led us is many other directions.
KR: If you could have one super-human power, what would it be?
JL: To fly! No traffic!
KR: In addition to music, what do you do for fun?
JL: Sewing, cross-stitch, embroidery, researching and planning my next trip to Disney!
I just ran my first half-marathon in January in Walt Disney World! It was one of the hardest things I have ever done–waking up at 3:30 am to get to the start line, and a heat advisory at 5:30 am! It turned out to be more like a summer day in Florida with heat and humidity. I made it through and was able to enjoy the rest of the day with my family in Magic Kingdom and capping of the vacation with the Firework Dessert party.
KR: Knowing what you know at this stage of your life, what words of wisdom would you give to your 20-year-old self?
JL: Branch out–explore the world! Study abroad! Join the Peace Corps! Take the time to stay in touch with friends!