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Jess Harlen

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Now arrives Jess Harlen, a taste of soul, urban roots, lyrical stylings and poetic incision. This songstress hails from the rolling hills and coastlines of New Zealand and is of Ngati Porou and Nga Puhi decent. Moving to Australia with her family at a young age, Jess spent her school years growing up in Brisbane where she began singing and was taught to play the guitar by her family.

Throughout her musical upbringing, influences include blues artists such as John Lee Hooker and Nina Simone, Motown greats such as Otis Redding and Gladys Knight, moving into soul and roots musicians such as Bill Withers, Robert Flak and Tracy Chapman. An early love for these icons mashed with later influences such as Lauryn Hill and Meshell Ndegeocello, over the New Zealand styled rhythmic sound of her acoustic guitar, lend to an indefinable style of soul.

Her first recording success came with the Kool Skools interstate project where her first original song written at age 16 won ‘Best Female Vocalist’ and ‘Best Acoustic Song’ for Qld 2000.

After moving to Melbourne in 2005 to pursue her music career, Jess independently released her first EP Street Level Soul (2006) which won her ‘Best Unsigned Artist’ at the Urban Music Awards for Australia & New Zealand (2007).

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