Newtown Square native Jared Feinman was just 6 years old when he began his classical training on piano. More than a decade later, fresh out of Pottstown’s Hill School, he thought a business degree might be a better move. Five credits shy of graduation from the University of Richmond, Feinman abruptly shifted course, moving to Boston’s esteemed Berklee School of Music to hone his skills as a songwriter and performer. A winner in our 2020 Best of the Main Line and Western Suburbs Awards, Feinman is currently releasing a series of singles that showcase his jazzy, sophisticated pop sound. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, he’s donating proceeds from his powerful new ballad, “(Let’s Sing for) Love and Be Free,” to Philly Music Fest’s micro-grant initiative.
MLT: What was your early musical development like?
JF: I studied classical piano for 10 years with Dorothy Poor, who taught at Episcopal Academy. She was great—she played in the Pittsburgh Symphony. I studied jazz piano with a wonderful teacher named Jimmy Amadie, who played with Mel Tormé. Jimmy would always say how tough it was to make a career out of it. I did a bunch of competitions, but it was always business school for me—at least in high school.
MLT: What was the turning point?
JF: I was in a really tough spot at the University of Richmond, basically almost failing out—though I was in an a capella group there, and I was a music minor. I auditioned at Berklee on a whim, and it changed my whole life. I didn’t really think about it in terms of an occupation until after Berklee. I had a lot of maturing to do.
MLT: Was there a pivotal moment at Berklee?
JF: I didn’t know I wanted to write songs until I took a songwriting class. Actually, I didn’t even know I could write. Even now, it’s very daunting.
MLT: What about your style?
JF: My background in jazz informs the way I approach music and the natural decisions I make. For my grandmother and her friends, it reminds them of the ’40s. People my age think more of Sam Smith, Billy Joel or Elton John.
MLT: What’s next?
JF: I’ve been playing open-mic nights since 2017. Right now, I’m using this time to write and record new songs. I’ve also made a special vinyl version of the single “(Let’s Sing for) Love and Be Free.” It comes out of the tumultuous times we’ve experienced in our country in recent years. It sort of feels right. We’ll see where it lands.
Feinman was our Best of the Main Line Best Jazz Crooner winner. See the full list here.