Hometown musician Jesse Palter performs at the Berman

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published October 15, 2013

 West Bloomfield musician Jesse Palter and the Jesse Palter Quartet will perform at the Berman Center for Performing Arts Saturday, Oct. 19.

West Bloomfield musician Jesse Palter and the Jesse Palter Quartet will perform at the Berman Center for Performing Arts Saturday, Oct. 19.

Photo provided by The Berman Center of Performing Arts


WEST BLOOMFIELD — Hometown jazz musician Jesse Palter doesn’t remember a time she wasn’t onstage, having begun performing with community theater and in talent shows at the age of 5. Granddaughter to opera prodigy Dorothea Raynor, Palter would also perform for her family in her grandmother’s living room.

At the age of 6, Palter began learning the piano, which she says is still instrumental to her writing process, and as her passion for jazz developed, she also learned to play the oboe and trumpet. Palter attended Abbott Middle School in West Bloomfield, where she got involved in school productions, as well as with professional theater.

Talent filled the school, she said, and her peers have since gone on to travel the world in rock bands or Broadway.

When female musicians Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore were advancing in the pop music world, Palter immersed herself in the sounds of jazz masters Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and Frank Sinatra, falling in love with the sound and feeling of swing.

“I always had a knack for interpreting songs the way I wanted to do it,” she said. “When I would get up on the stage to sing them, it was like, ‘All right, I’m going to do this my way.’”

Palter’s family first discovered her natural improvising talent after the director for Abbott Middle School’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” reprimanded her for “embellishing” melodies. The director later approached Palter’s mother and advised her to increase Palter’s involvement in jazz.

Palter began writing music when she was 12 years old, and when she was about 15 years old, she teamed up with Mark and Jeff Bass, who are known for working with Eminem and Dr. Dre.

“When I met Mark and Jeff, they also had an appreciation for jazz, and I felt like they understood me.

“I was on the cusp of signing a deal at various points in my life, but it never actually happened,” she said. “It gave me a lot of time to think about what kind of statement I wanted to make as an artist.”

In 2004, Palter attended the University of Michigan School of Music, wanting to be considered as a musician and not just a singer. But after spending 2 1/2 years at the university, she was offered the opportunity to apply her education and skills by singing in local clubs, like Baker’s Keyboard Lounge in Detroit.

Most of the time, Palter had to lie about her age in order to get into the clubs where she was performing, and at 18 years old, Palter was performing as part of young, hip and progressive era five-six nights a week, sometimes twice a day.

Palter now resides in L.A., where she creates unique interpretations of pop songs.

“I wanted to write music that sounded like you heard it before but also has a modern twist,” she said.

Palter, who has performed at the annual music festival at the Jewish Community Center, will perform at the Berman Center for Performing Arts 8 p.m. Oct. 19.

“When she was looking for a place to record a music video, since the place she originally scheduled for fell through, she called us and asked if we were available,” said Elaine Hendriks Smith, managing director of the Berman.

After watching her perform on the Berman stage, Hendriks Smith invited Palter to return for a home concert.

“I think it’s great for the city to see the kind of talent that comes from here,” Hendriks Smith said. “It’s always a blessing for people to show their family and friends what they can do.”

Tickets for the Jesse Palter Quartet concert are $22 for members of the Jewish Community Center and $27 for nonmembers. Ticket and additional information is available at www.theberman.org or by calling the ticket office at (248) 661-1900.