Hannah Jenkins didn't even tell her parents that she was trying to secure a recording contract.
Keeping it between her roommates and older sister, Jenkins quietly submitted three of her original songs for consideration to Pioneer Records, a brand-new record label run by of Point Park's Sports, Arts and Entertainment Management (SAEM) program. Once Jenkins heard that she edged out two other finalists to become Pioneer's first signee, she called her mother a few minutes before going to work to share the good news.
"She had so many questions, but I couldn't even tell her, because I had to go to work," says Jenkins, a 19-year-old Point Park marketing major.
This April, Jenkins' at-home project will become a tangible reality when Pioneer releases 300 copies of her yet-to-be-titled debut EP on CD, and hosts an outdoor release performance on campus. Since Jenkins won the competition late last year, students in the SAEM program have been working on a strategy to market and distribute her record.
While students are highly involved in the business end, Point Park has enlisted professional help for the recording process: Jesse Naus, owner and head engineer of Red Caiman, has recorded Jenkins at his commercial Uptown studio. In addition to bringing together a full band to complement Jenkins' raw, acoustic songs, Naus has helped Jenkins incorporate some fundamentals — like using a metronome — into her playing.
Jenkins' reference points fit nicely into pop's current obsession with folky singer-songwriters who ooze tasteful amounts of heartbreak. She cites Stevie Nicks, Sara Bareilles and, especially, Ed Sheeran ("If I could be the female version of him, I would be") as her primary influences, and promises that early tracks will place a strong emphasis on storytelling.
But even if a recording career doesn't ultimately pan out for Jenkins, she already has a backup plan: marketing for music. She acknowledges that the creative side can be "a hard business to get into," so by majoring in SAEM, Jenkins is prepared to enter the music industry in another capacity.
"If I'm not the one singing or producing music, I want to still be around it and help other people," Jenkins explains.