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Helen Exner | Now and Then

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Pop: Piano Jazz: Piano Jazz Moods: Solo Female Artist
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Now and Then

by Helen Exner

In "Now and Then," singer/songwriter and pianist Helen Exner weaves classical, jazz and pop influences together in her tales of love, loss and strength.
Genre: Pop: Piano
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Song for My Muse
4:08 $0.99
2. Baby Brother
4:04 $0.99
3. Minneapolis
3:56 $0.99
4. The Standing
3:14 $0.99
5. Little Things
3:22 $0.99
6. Street Lights
3:41 $0.99
7. Empty Rooms
2:27 $0.99
8. Grace
3:53 $0.99
9. Now and Then
3:03 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Before moving to Florida, singer/songwriter and pianist Helen Exner performed gigs all over northern Wisconsin. Smoky bars, folk festivals, concert halls, farmer's markets, church services, weddings, private boat cruises--Exner played them all, becoming known for entertaining audiences with jazz and blues standards, plus witty original songs released on her earlier two original albums.

This time around, though, Exner's newest album of original songs don't seek to entertain; they're a somber testament to how quickly life can change in a few years. Her stylistic influences run the gamut from gospel ("Song for my Muse"), classical (the poignant "Baby Brother"), jazz ("Little Things") and R&B (the title track "Now and Then"). She moves between styles to suit the message of each song, which catalog a difficult period in the classically trained-turned-jazz musician's life.

In 2009, her youngest brother Peter was paralyzed in a car crash that Exner narrowly avoided being in, thanks to catching a flight home only an hour before. A few months later Exner penned "Baby Brother" to comfort him from miles away, inspired by Brahm's famous lullaby, and she recorded it in 2013 with gorgeous string quartet accompaniment. "The Standing," produced by award-winning producer Marc Golde, is a driving rock song--a big sister's response to feelings of guilt (for escaping the car crash) and anger (the driver who caused the accident drove off and was never found).

On the country-tinged "Minneapolis," she marvels at the twin feelings of elation and fear that accompany falling in love again, while the jazzy tune "Little Things" celebrates moments with the new love, however fleeting the moment may be ultimately.

Exner's brother Peter--who learned to walk again after two years of grueling therapy--contributed lyrics to the song "Streetlights," which he asked her to set to music. In it he describes the painful process of walking down an icy street in Baltimore, falling, and getting up again. Exner's most recent tune is also the most bittersweet: "Grace" was written in July 2014, shortly after she learned that her mother's breast cancer had returned and was resisting treatment. She recorded the classically inspired tribute to her mother with soprano Meegan Jesse Hussein that summer, and Exner's mother Anne listened to the tune in August 2015, only weeks before she passed away from cancer at age 66.

The album wraps up with the funky, confident title track "Now and Then." Featuring a rhythmically tight band and sunny vocals, Exner muses about the benefits of the single-girl life as the guitarist and bassist jam over a funky beat.

RECORDED: June 2013 in Appleton, Wisconsin at Rock Garden Studios; July 2014 in Davie, FL at Vanquish Studios.
PRODUCERS: Marc Golde and Helen Exner.
SONGS: All songs written by Helen Exner. "Streetlights" lyrics based on a poem by Peter Exner.

*Helen Exner: piano, vocals
*Meegan Jesse Hussein: vocals
*Tom Theabo: guitar
*Tim Perkins: bass
*Mike Underwood: drums
*John Gibson: bass
*Matt Turner: cello
*Lori Murphy: violin
*Adria Ramos: violin
*Marc Golde: guitar, organ, drums



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Larry Dinwieddie

Detroit Metro Airport / EA Sports (smile)
What a wonderful Christmas present from Ms.Helen Exner !!! What a beautiful voice, wonderful lyrics, that share your vision an purpose. I can never thank you enough for allowing me the opportunity to experience your artistry, passionate phrasing, soulful talent !!! I will make it my business to come hear you live someday soon. To exalt being in your presence once again !!! The Magic of Life and You are one !!!*** Yes indeed (smile) 12-24-2015 I love your picture, you're very beautiful !!! I love who you are because you think with your heart, mind and spirit.******* Mr.Larry Dinwieddie /Michigan