It has been said that everybody has a story to tell. Singing Pilgrims’ story started over twenty years ago.
Jeanne, a veteran performer both in choirs and on the stage, opened a folk music store with her husband over two decades ago. For years the couple influenced Albuquerque’s musical community through Apple Mountain Music’s multiple outreaches, not to mention opening their doors to students and teachers alike. Workshops were regular occurrences. Countless groups owe their beginnings to their tireless efforts, including the ever popular Albuquerque Folk Festival. One of the longer lasting musical groups that Jeanne directed was the Apple Mountain Harp Kids. Built mostly from her own personal harp students, the group had opportunities to perform on radio, television and multiple festivals throughout each year. Her love for folk music transferred to each of her students, some of which have gone on to perform in such prestigious places like Carnegie Hall. While her award-winning vocals have always been prominent throughout her musical career, she has moved around a bit on instruments. In her former family band, she was known for her sizzling hammered dulcimer skills. In Singing Pilgrims, however, she has opted to return her focus to her first love, the acoustic guitar.
Two of Jeanne’s former harp students, sisters Gabrielle and Natasha Coffing, round out the trio that makes up the core of Singing Pilgrims. All three have a long history in the performing arts.
No stranger to the stage, Gabrielle has expanded her performing arts experience to include every position in the theatre, both on and off the stage. But she credits many of the important musical and life lessons learned from working with Jeanne throughout the years. “She taught us how to play through anything, and that we are not perfect. If we make a mistake, learn from it, smile, and move on.” Gabrielle enjoys the challenge of moving to different instruments for whatever sound the band needs. You will usually find her on the drum or piano, but she is happy to be sitting behind the harp and guitar again. “People often ask me what my favorite instrument to play is. I can never decide!”
Natasha is often the driving force behind the band’s instrumentals. She has loved the violin from a young age. At times, she can elicit tears with her haunting bow and strings, while moments later, one feels the urge to jump up and dance to her sparkling tunes. Not only is she skilled at arranging other people’s compositions, but she has turned out a fair number of originals herself. Not content with just one instrument, she has composed stirring numbers on the violin, harp and piano.
So how did these ladies manage to stay together all these years? Well, it helps that they are family 🙂 While only Natasha and Gabrielle are blood related, they affectionately call Jeanne “Auntie,” or, more commonly, “Mama J.” While their paths have diverged over time, they always end up together again, in some form or fashion. And now, after so many memories together, they find themselves poised for even greater adventures.
Let the Journey continue!!