Since she was a young girl, Jennie Walker has been following two dreams – making music and making a difference.  Today she has found a way to  combine those dreams to do both.

She has worked as a staff fundraiser for organizations like President Jimmy Carter’s Carter Center, and Rockefeller founded Synergos Institute,  At Synergos, she helped create the Global Philanthropists Circle and today works as a a fundraising consultant. But she still makes time to pursue her creative passion as a singer and songwriter. From the first piano/voice lesson to the first songwriting course/talent show, she has never stopped dreaming or combining the tunes and words into  music that touches people’s hearts just as what they do touches hers. Jennie Walker, It's My Time

A great example is Jennie’s new album, It’s My Time,” (Maddie Records, UK) which hits the market place on July 26, 2010 with distribution in the UK through Universal Music. The album title is based on the song “It’s Our Time,” and was  inspired by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s pursuit of the presidency.

“When she (Hillary Clinton)  became emotional during the New Hampshire primary talking about her candidacy, I empathized as a woman still reaching for my dream. I immediately wrote “It’s Our Time” through tears of understanding.”

~ Jennie Walker

JKW:  Jennie, tell us about your favorite project and why it makes a difference.

why.JW: The Connective Series is something I started in 2008 as a way for aspiring singers, songwriters, and musicians to learn about the music business through a panel series. To tie this back to my charity work, I would give profits from the series to music related charities and also raise awareness for those charities at the events. WhyHunger?, of which I am a member of their Artists Against Hunger & Poverty Program (along with Bruce Springsteen), has been a beneficiary as well as the Georgia Music Industry Association in Atlanta, among others charities. I offer a silent auction of music related books and products at the panels, which also supports the charities.

JKW: Tell us about someone you know personally who inspires you.

Ken Ludden (in Red) Photo Credit NY TimesJW: I was introduced to Ken Ludden, the Artistic Director of the Margot Fonteyn Academy of Ballet in Peekskill, New York through a mutual friend. Ken runs an amazing after school program, teaching dance to a small group of students in Peekskill, New York. He does all of this work as a volunteer, having personally known Dame Margot Fonteyn during her lifetime and worked with her to develop a blueprint for a new approach to ballet education during the last 12 years of her life. The principals upon which this program is run are to fulfill Dame Fonteyn’s desired for a new approach to ballet for a modern era. Ken invited me to participate in the My Song portion of the students annual “Grande Défilé ” which showcases their dance skills. My producer, Tommy Faragher, and I worked with the students one-on-one helping them to finalize their song ideas and get their direction on performance. Tommy produced and I performed on each of the recordings and later gave a live showcase of the songs. The students’ reactions were really amazing. They liked that Tommy and I took their work seriously and produced, recorded and performed them as if they were already a professional writers. It was one of the sweetest musical experiences of my life so far. I blogged about the gift and card they gave me with personal notes like “You’re cool!” I smiled for a long time after that. I have been asked back for next year and now I am helping the organization pro bono on some fundraising strategies to get funding for next years event and for ongoing work. It’s a fantastic program with a real funding need….like a lot of these small but important programs sprinkled around the country.

JKW:  WHY do you do what you do.

Jennie's-Mom-Louise-WalkerJW: My mother raised me to be of service to others, and in my home that meant mostly to  give of yourself and of your time, rather than money. I was a volunteer at church, at school, at college, where ever I could find an opportunity. There has always been a lot of satisfaction I felt in giving and helping others. There is no feeling quite like it and believe me, I’ve tried to duplicate it other ways, but it’s impossible.

“You can only pick from what you have to choose from” – Jennie Walker

I am compelled and I am driven to make my mark with my music. On some basic level it’s a challenge. Trying to determine if I am smart enough to figure it out – the steps I mean – the process to becoming recognized as a singer and songwriter. There is no straight forward path. And, no book I can buy. The path is filled with twists and turns but at the end of the day, I have a passion and love for what I do. Hopefully my music will be adopted by the buying public. The process has already been rewarding on so many different levels and as I keep inching forward, it gets really exciting. The hardest thing in the world to do is allow this to happen organically without trying to force it. And, that means letting go of the how and focusing on the end result. As someone who works constantly as this process, it’s not easy to let go and accept that I have done enough. But in the end, the music will speak for itself.

JKW:  If you had 3 wishes – what would they be?

JW: My greatest wish is that my mother was still living to see me become successful with my music, which she inspired in me and encouraged me to do and with whom I wrote songs as a teenager and adult. We went through this musical journey together, not just for my own musical pursuits, but for hers also. She wrote a musical based on the life of Martin Luther King as well as many songs that were in the country and pop vein. We were close a few times to getting songs cut. It was enough to keep us going. My goal is to get some of the work we did together published. She deserves to be remembered for her music and not just for being the most amazing mother ever created.

Jennie-Walker-Three-Wishes2) I would like to see my music reach an international audience and market place and be  respected as a viable musical expression and product. Today, with digital distribution, it makes it easy to get my music out there. But, it takes more than just a distribution channel to be successful – the stars and moon have to align just right for something to catch on, and my wish is for that alignment to take place!

3) I would like to experience enough success with the music to form a personal foundation and be able to give back financially instead of just through volunteer work, and be able to utilize all I have learned from the inside of non-profit organizations to be able to give in the right way.

Getting Connected

Joan and JennieWorking in the music and philanthropic communities, Jennie understands how important it is to be connected.  While Jennie and I are both “Walkers” we would never have met if my videographer had not introduced us on Twitter. (Thanks Clay!)  The tweet is long gone but since then we have emailed, chatted, and gotten together in NYC for the launch of Amilya Antonetti’s new book The Recipe: A fable for leaders and teams.

Jennie loves to hear from fans and collaborate on projects that make a difference. You can reach out to her on Twitter @MsJennieWalker , find her on Facebook, drop in for a tune on MySpace, see videos on her YouTube Channel, or connect through her website.