Jenny Jordan Frogley
What is your first memory of singing?
I grew up in a singing family—the “Jordan Family” von Trapps! I am told that I joined the family at the tender age of three. My mother would play the piano for us, and we performed at church events, rest homes, civic centers, city events, business parties, etc.
What was it like touring as part of the Jordan Family Singers, and what is your fondest memory from performing with your family?
I remember we fought a lot rehearsing, and it drove our mother crazy! But it was always rewarding. My brothers and sisters (nine in total) are all so talented, and we were pretty impressive with our harmonies and strong voices. It was exciting to perform at a young age for so many audiences. My fondest memory was that we sang the song “So Long, Farewell” from The Sound of Music holding these little hand puppets that my mother had made. They were simple but super cute. My four sisters and I always fought over the cute one with the pink yarn hair!
How did you get involved in recording music for the EFY soundtracks?
I had been recording music for different Church CDs for a while before I did my first EFY song. I had worked with the same producers, and they just asked me one day if I wanted to sing on one. Little did I know how super cool it was to sing an EFY song!
You’ve put out two solo CDs now. What are the biggest challenges that come with putting together your own CD?
I really didn’t have much producing experience before doing my own CDs, so there was definitely a learning curve! I also had never taken a songwriting class or anything like that, so I was just going off of instinct and what I thought sounded good and seemed to work. I listen back now and with more experience under my belt both congratulate myself on some good stuff, but also cringe on some not so good stuff!
One challenge I faced as well was having big dreams on a smaller budget. I had to be okay with some of the final vocals because there simply wasn’t enough budget left to record any more. But on the whole, I wasn’t looking to get famous with my work, just to write songs that could uplift people and be meaningful, so I had a very positive, playful attitude working on both of my albums.
What is the best thing about putting together your own CD?
I love the songwriting process. To me, it’s like putting together a puzzle. When I write a song that is more topic-driven, I will study up on the topic for a few weeks or more and take pages and pages of notes on words or thoughts that inspire me or move me or that I resonate with, etc. Then when it comes to actually writing the lyrics, I have a huge journal of thoughts to write from. Really rewarding and fun to write.
I also love working with talented arrangers who take my songs and bring them to life. That process is so amazing and fun! But I would have to say my favorite part is when I record the vocals. I turn the studio into my little “home away from home” and pour my heart and soul out through my voice on each song. I love to sing!
What is the most unconventional thing you’ve done to advance your career?
I’ve always touted myself as the “worst artist ever” in self-promotion! :) I’ve never been in it to be famous. Honestly, I know what it takes to become famous, and I’m a mother of four amazing children that I really dig being Mommy to, so I just can’t give my life away to the world. I’ve been blessed to be able to travel and do some wonderful things with my career, but I can spend the majority of my time just being a mom and living a normal life. Yes, I’ve done super early morning TV and radio shows (like sing at five in the morning on live TV), and I’ve done some super weird voices for video games that take me way out of my comfort zone (elves, maidens, ghosts, sound effects, etc.), but I’ve never tried to “advance” my career. I just take what comes and do my very best to be as excellent as I can.
What was the most fun aspect of being a commercial staff writer? What was your favorite jingle you wrote?
Writing jingles is harder than it seems, but it’s also easy and fun! Working with the client can be interesting sometimes when they give you a tagline that they would like you to put to music and it has absolutely no musicality to it. Or super wacky words like “cataracts” or “carburetor.” Sometimes you have to pull off a little mini miracle to make a weird tagline or weird business name sound magical. But it’s fun when the client is pleased, and when you hear it played on TV and radio.
I really don’t have a favorite, although I remember the first one I ever wrote. It was for a company called Ultimate Fitness in the Midwest that sold workout equipment. I wrote it, produced it, and sang the vocal. I made it rock and the client really loved it. That was such an awesome feeling!
You’ve substituted for both Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight in large performances. How did that come about?
Aretha was scheduled to come sing the torch-lighting ceremony song called “Carry the Flame” at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. A couple of weeks before, she backed out, stating that she had a fear of flying and couldn’t fly to Salt Lake. It was offered, I was told, to Gladys Knight, and she couldn’t do it, so I was asked. I’m not really sure how they got my name, but it was a real honor to do it.
A few years later Gladys Knight was scheduled to perform a medley of songs for Gordon B. Hinckley’s ninety-fifth birthday celebration in Salt Lake with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They had sold out tickets—twenty thousand of them! At the time, Gladys was doing a nightly show at the Flamingo in Las Vegas and was unable to attend the dress rehearsal. Again, I’m not sure how my name came up, but I got the call to substitute for her at the dress rehearsal. I asked why they just didn’t skip the medley, and I found out they had also given out tickets for the dress rehearsal—twenty thousand of them! It was an eight-minute medley that I had to memorize. It wasn’t too fun when they announced to twenty thousand people that Gladys was not there that evening, and I heard the big collective sad sigh (and I was seven months pregnant), but I went out and did it as if it were my own arrangement, and the choir director was so pleased with my performance that I was asked to be a soloist on the live Mother’s Day broadcast later that spring with the choir.
Tell us about the the most daunting task you have undertaken in your musical career.
I’m actually doing it now. I travel with a band that does dances for big events and celebrity weddings four to eight times a month. People see the pictures of me and my band in exotic locations and beautiful resorts all over the world and think that I am living the life! I love what we do, but it is very hard work. We travel long distances, get to the venue, set up, sound check and rehearse, then put on a three- to four-hour high energy, high vocal intensity show complete with dancing and sometimes costume changes—in high heels! Then we pack it all up and travel home the next morning.
It’s very taxing sometimes on my body, and especially on my voice, and sometimes if we’re a long ways from home, we’re in a time zone that could have us performing very, very late into the evening our time. I would say doing this touring band has been the hardest thing I have ever done. Not that much glamour, just tons of hard work! There are many times, however, that we will go an extra day early or stay a day later if we’re somewhere amazing like Puerto Rico or St. Thomas.
What is different about the music industry in Utah compared to other places you’ve lived?
Utah is rich with talent. We have world-class instrumentalists, vocalists, and producers here. Huge projects are brought to Utah because of the talent here. All of the major networks (including Disney, ABC, and CBS) and many cable stations and movie producers bring their work here. There is a huge video game market here as well. There are also the Christian artists here who deliver their messages all over the world in their own market. There is a lot going on here in Utah!
You just announced that your band, Party Crashers, got invited to both one of the biggest events in New Orleans and to our local Mapleton Days, in the same Facebook post. How do you juggle working both big venues and smaller venues?
We have done a wide variety of events for sure. Multimillion-dollar weddings on a beach attended by celebrities, to a small county fair! We love audiences big and small, famous and not famous, and as long as folks come to have a great time, we have a great time and love to be there. We love shows like county fairs because they give us an opportunity to invite family and friends, as most of our events are private. We love that it brings out families and we get to perform for lots of kids! Party Crashers loves kids! Of course we love the bigger events like Mardi Gras. We get to share the stage and rub shoulders with some amazing artists, and it’s never boring to perform for over ten thousand partygoers dressed up and ready to dance. The more diverse the opportunities we can get, the better it is for us. Always breaking it up, and it’s never, ever the same job twice.
What projects are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on all kinds of fun new medleys and songs and special effects for my band. There is always a ton of work to do to stay on top of other bands and keep evolving and growing. This next year we will work on some original singles that we hope to incorporate into our shows, and we also help raise money for a non-profit in Kenya called Koins for Kenya. I have a couple of album projects that I hope to start this next year, including one that will be more on the legit end of the spectrum—sort of like an Enya project. I am very excited to start working on that.
How does the gospel influence your singing and writing?
I grew up with gospel standards and ideals. It has and will always be my goal that my writing reflects those standards and always uplifts and inspires. You will never know me to write anything to the contrary. That is what I love to do. We have enough negative—I want to be on the positive side of music.
I also love people and see a light in most people that I meet. I want to touch and inspire, even in my band singing popular music. I love weddings because we get to bring families together—bring all of the little kids up on the stage and give them a chance to shine. We have had grooms or parents come up and actually get emotional that our band cared about their family and wanted them all to join together to dance and enjoy and celebrate family.
In everything that I do, I always hope to be a shining light. The gospel has given me so much, and I want to give back in return.
You’ve spoken in many youth conferences and other events. What is the best advice that you can give to a young woman or man?
I’m not sure if you mean in life in general, or advice for the aspiring singer or musician, but I will answer as if it is the latter.
Start where you are. Sing or perform in your church, your school, your community. Look for any and all opportunities to perform. It will help you gain confidence, exposure, and connections. People need you and your music right where you are. Strive to be excellent, even in the smallest and least significant settings. Never settle for anything less than your best, and put everything into it that you can. Cream always rises to the top, and it’s the same with talent. Work hard at your craft. Work to make connections with others who can help you make more connections and get more exposure. If you’re good, you will get noticed. Learn as much about music (or whatever you want to do) as you can. If you want to be a singer, learn also how to play an instrument and write songs. Hang out at recording studios getting coffee for people. Anything to get you around people who are doing what you want to do. The more tools in your career tool belt you have, the more possibilities you will have. It’s important to be good at what you do. Take lessons, do research, whatever it is that will help you get ahead of the others.
Most importantly, believe in yourself and have fun with it all. You may never be the most famous or rich, but then again you might! Play it like a game and remember the journey is the fun part, not necessarily the destination. Always live with the thought of what you will think on your deathbed. What will you regret? What will you wish you would have done/not done? If you’re like me, you’ll hope to have lived a life rich with awesome experiences and amazing relationships. I don’t think I’ll care if I was ever rich or famous—just that I rocked it hard and gave it all I had! ❧