Biography of Jane Kramer
Lauded by UK music reviewer Three Chords and the Truth as sounding like she was “…born to gypsy poets and raised by Emmylou Harris,” Asheville, North Carolina songstress Jane Kramer has garnered international recognition for the sultry, heartrending originality of her vocals and for the heavy-hitting lyrical eloquence of her songwriting.
With deep roots in the musical traditions, culture and lore of her beloved Appalachia, Kramer’s songs are introspective, gracefully gritty and fiercely memorable. They elegantly sweep listeners down the gravel roads and southern coastal highways, midnight truck stops and lonely motel rooms of “hard learning” and lead home to the wooded Blue Ridge Mountains with moving acceptance of our flawed human experience. Kramer’s live performances are equally as poignant and engaging; rich with accessible, warm, often hilarious storytelling and gracefully lifting the veil between audience and performer.
Following the February 2016 release of her second studio album, Carnival of Hopes, Kramer has been touring nationally and internationally, playing for sold-out audiences in listening rooms, theaters, pubs, festivals, living rooms and arts councils in support of the record. This has gained her a loyal following from Portland, Oregon to Scotland, U.K.
A social worker, former domestic violence crisis counselor and avid humanitarian, Kramer continues to perform and teach about the songwriting process in prisons, rescue missions, programs for at-risk youth, classrooms, hospitals and animal shelters, sharing her message of music as a powerful tool for healing, connection and compassion.
Whether Kramer is solo, wielding only her custom EJ Henderson guitar and her most important instrument: her emotive, ethereal voice, or backed by her full band featuring the virtuostic instrumentalists that comprise Asheville’s Free Planet Radio and internationally renowned multi-instrumentalist Billy Cardine (Biscuit Burners, Acoustic Syndicate, Lover’s Leap,) the power and poignance of this truly gifted songstress is deeply felt and long-remembered.
Quoted as “…an artist on the rise” by acclaimed American songwriter Mary Gauthier and as “…a voice that can only be described as one of the purest in modern Americana” By Dave Stallard of Blue Ridge Outdoors, Kramer has performed with such well-known artists as Joan Osborne, Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, Gretchen Peters, Appalachian troubadour Malcolm Holcombe, two-time Grammy award-winning bassist Eliot Wadopian, Ricky Scaggs, Shawn Mullins and Maria Muldaur.
In April 2018, Kramer returned to the studio to record her third full-length album.
Valley of the Bones is a triumphant collection of original songs that illustrate and explore the expression human of love in all its various forms.
Tracked mostly live (including the vocal performances,) at Sound Temple Studios in Asheville, N.C., Kramer teamed up with her frequent collaborators: Free Planet Radio musicians River Guerguerian, Chris Rosser and two-time Grammy Award winner Eliot Wadopian; as well as Billy Cardine. The album also includes performances by Nicky Sanders of The Steep Canyon Rangers on violin and Asheville Symphony Orchestra musician Franklin Keel on cello.
The collection of 10 original songs was engineered, mixed and produced by Adam Johnson of Sound Lab Studios and co-produced by Kramer and Chris Rosser.
Kramer says of bringing the earliest, tentative versions of her songs to Johnson and Rosser for arrangement help and production ideas,
"I have never trusted two people more with my art. In the past, I have seldom let people hear my songs until I felt that they were polished, but as my musical relationship with and respect for [Johnson] and [Rosser] have deepened, it felt important to me to to involve them from the beginning," Kramer says.
"I know that the songs and the record as a whole are much stronger for it, and their gentle but firmly constructive approach has made me a better artist. I've been looking for such allies and mentors for a long time," she adds.
While most of the afore-mentioned musicians accompanied Kramer on her acclaimed 2016 release Carnival of Hopes, listeners will hear a distinct difference in the band's chemistry, cohesion and almost electric intuition with one another on Valley of the Bones.
"Simply put, it's because we've been playing together a lot over the past three years since I've moved back home to Asheville," she says.
"We've gotten to know each other personally, had a little time on the road together, sold out some shows in theaters together and have built an incredible mutual respect. We had genuine fun in the studio. I think all of that translates and comes through on the record."
Valley of the Bones' 10 strong tracks tackle a breadth of subject matter, ranging from marriage to miscarriage. Spirituality and self-acceptance are expressed with poetic grace, vulnerability and unapologetically honest grit. Kramer's endearing, self-effacing humor is also on full display. This warm, easy storytelling is paired with rich, nuanced arrangements that aren't afraid to be simple when called for, and are punctuated with the unmistakably bittersweet southern wail of Billy Cardine's dobro.
Standout tracks include the gutsy and reflective “Hymn” (which was a "homework assignment" from Mary Gauthier, Kramer's musical mentor)
“Hymn” national premiere on The Bluegrass Situation Here,
the undeniably smart and sassy “Waffle House Song”,
“Waffle House Song” national premiere on The Daily Country Here,
and the profoundly poetic and transcendent title track “Valley of the Bones.”
“Valley of the Bones” national premier and mini-documentary premier on Ditty TV / Campfire Here
This song was dubbed a "masterpiece" by Lydia Hutchinson of Performing Songwriter Magazine. Also noteworthy are the quirky and hilarious country zinger, “I'll See Your Crazy and Raise You Mine” and the sweet, earnest “Singin's Enough: which speaks candidly of the struggles of a touring musician.
All of the songs show Kramer arriving confidently and comfortably at home inside as both a woman and a masterful songwriter after over twenty years of honing her craft.
Gauthier, Kramer's longtime mentor and a 2018 grammy-nominated songwriter, says of Valley of the Bones:
“ I have watched Jane Kramer work diligently, patiently and persistently on her songwriting over many years, refining her natural ability with words to the level of songwriting mastery. She has composed a new collection of songs that beautifully serve the bold, confident intensity of her voice, and I could not be more excited about it. Bravo!”
Valley of the Bones was released internationally on March 1st of 2019 to critical acclaim and has placed in various categories on the national Folk / Americana and Roots Music Radio charts for 4 months and running.