Rising out of Los Angeles, Jen McClung has always been surrounded by a music scene. At age 13 McClung picked up the guitar and taught herself, unaware of how far it would take her.
Born into a family of musicians, McClung used to fall asleep to her father strumming away in the next room.
Unlike most 15 year olds, McClung professionally recorded her first eight songs on a cassette tape (oh yes, a cassette tape). She would then sell this tape at shows to get her voice out. For the first time, she could manifest all the angst she acquired as a teenager into something positive.
“It was never about being famous, it was about the music. I knew I could do it on my own without the support of a record label,” said McClung.
Like any rebellious and independent teenager, McClung wanted to find her own style on her own. Turning down a record deal with Warner Bros. Records when she was 17 years old, McClung was determined to pursue this dream.
McClung, who teaches American Indian Studies at Iowa State, has a passion for all arts. She graduated from Chatham University in Pittsburgh with an MFA in poetry and fiction. Combining poetry and lyric writing only makes perfect sense to her.
“My style is whatever I want it to be” said McClung.
Currently working on a new album, McClung hopes to mix up her sound adding an electronic twist. Her last album, "Wildfire," was released in 2014.
“It’s not about what’s marketable, it’s about what I want to do,” said McClung on her new sound and album.
In 2014, McClung went on tour with her husband and their two kids, Will, her step-son, and Fionn. Jim, Mclung’s husband, played bass for McClung while on tour. Balancing performance on stage and their two kids was difficult for the couple.
“I remember one time Jim had to go off stage in the middle of the song [to take care of an upset child],” said McClung. During the tour, McClung’s step-son Will would run the merchandise table while Fionn would play games on the IPad.
“I don’t push my kid to play,” said McClung about her son Fionn.
Fionn has an interest in music and is showcasing it. He can play any melody he hears on the piano from ear. Currently, Fionn is obsessed with the soundtrack from Harry Potter.
“My son is his own being. He has his own life and choices. I don’t need to push him to do what I’m doing or to like what I’m liking,” said McClung.
Growing up, McClung’s father, and her biggest critic, never pushed her to play, but rather would immerse her in the music.
McClung will play alongside Elizabeth Moen this Friday at the next concert in the All Iowa Arts Showcase. Hailing out of Iowa City, Moen has played across the country and overseas.
The event is aimed to build connections between local and regional artists. The showcase will take place at the Ames City Auditorium. Featuring music, art, concessions and more, all parts of the event will be locally based.
The lineup for the rest of the concert dates is as followed:
April 13, 2018 at 8:30 p.m.: Jen McClung & Elizabeth Moen
April 20, 2018: Evan Campbell & Patresa Hartman
More information on the All Iowa Arts Showcase can be found on the Ames City Auditorium Facebook page or on the City of Ames Calendar.