Terri Jo Jenkins is pretty well known in the North Denver area as a wonderful piano, guitar, flute, and vocal instructor who works out of a studio at Highlands United Methodist Church, but she is so much more! After I heard her on Denver’s jazz station, KUVO, years ago, I gained a whole new respect for this locally famous musical dynamo.
Emerging from humble beginnings, Terri Jo grew up in a tiny town in Nebraska where her mom and dad, respectively, performed as a concert pianist and a church choir singer in addition to their day jobs. By the time Terri Jo reached the age of 10, it was clear that she and her two sisters had inherited their parents’ talent, and so was born The Dodson Sisters. Led around to talent competitions by their mom, the three girls’ harmonies, similar to the Andrew Sisters at the time, earned many awards along the way.
As an adult, Terri Jo thrived as a folk singer/songwriter and was nominated by Lincoln, Nebraska’s public radio station as “Folk Singer of the Year” four times in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Many of her songs have been incorporated into public radio programs. By the mid-2000s, Terri Jo was running her own coffee shop/performance venue in Lincoln when Jeff Jenkins, nationally recognized jazz pianist from Denver, stopped in and chatted with the pretty redhead on his way to a gig. They hit it off and soon Terri Jo found herself moving to Denver and singing with Jeff at venues like Dazzle. Jeff already had quite a following in Denver’s jazz scene and Terri Jo soon became a part of it too, often harmonizing with other female jazz singers in groups like The Quirktett around town. Terri Jo has been active in the North Denver music scene, performing many First Fridays at Tenn Street Coffee and outdoor summer concerts in front of the historic Elitch Theatre.
In addition to the youth and adults that she instructs vocally and instrumentally in the Highlands, Terri Jo is also the music director at Epiphany Lutheran in Washington Park. A few years back she founded the Songbird Jazz Fest, (songbirdjazzfest.com), which provides workshops designed for experienced singers, age 16 and over, who wish to further their knowledge in vocal jazz performance. The festival has received great attention and recently became partners with the nonprofit, The Colorado Conservancy for the Jazz Arts.
I have seen Terri Jo in many venues–her thick curly red hair and sparkly dresses often reminding me of a glamorous Ginger from Gilligan’s Island. She has a smooth, clean voice and such a fun demeanor as she performs. It is always a treat to go out and see this local gem. Listen carefully to KUVO and you are sure to hear Terri Jo’s vocals, often accompanied by her husband Jeff’s keyboards throughout the week. Looking ahead, she will be performing a dinner concert for the Women in Jazz series on April 30 (tickets available at giftofjazz.org). She also plays live or on live stream at Dazzle whenever possible. More information on her performances and lessons can be found at www.terrijomusic.com.