Marin Soul Singer on Fighting Cancer & Creating Community
Attending Catholic school in the Sacramento suburbs can be an isolating experience. It is even more so when you’re hiding a family secret.
“My parents are gay, but they didn’t feel comfortable coming out,” musician Chloe Jean explained. “I never lacked anything, but I did experience trauma around the secrecy.” From a young age, Jean felt uncomfortable in her own skin and alienated from many close friendships. She turned to music to find her voice and express what she couldn’t comfortably say in conversation. “Black Sheep,” her favorite original song, is a product of those early years of feeling different.
“It comes back to me being that little girl who was so alone,” she explained. “And about appreciating other people for their differences.” Jean’s journey took her from Sacramento to Cal’s track team, and all the way to the East Coast for a few years. She’s now back in the Bay Area, writing and performing music. Similarly, Jean’s experience with “Black Sheep” recently came full circle: her previously shy daughter performed it at a talent show.
“She didn’t even want to perform at school last year,” Jean recalled. “And to hear her sing this song, to see her expand her little butterfly wings, was incredible.”
Music became more than just a way for Jean to find and share her voice: it also fostered human connection. Her website displays the following quote from Bono: “Music can change the world because it can change people.” To Jean, that means that a better mood, understanding others, and inner peace are just one thought (or song) away.
Jean’s work in creating positive change goes beyond her music itself. For example, she’s donating a portion of her concert proceeds to UCSF breast cancer research. Anyone following her social media accounts knows that Jean is navigating her own journey with breast cancer. Her decision to share this information was born out of a desire for authenticity and improved discourse regarding health-related issues. It wasn’t a hard choice, she recalled, and now it’s become a large part of my life. She’s been able to connect with new friends and build community. It’s also been easier for her to talk to people who are going through similar experiences.
“There’s a lot of folks who have people in their lives who go through this, or go through it themselves.” she said. “And they want to talk to someone going through the same thing.”
Jean’s journey with cancer has not only inspired her to connect with others; it’s also increased her motivation to invest in herself as an artist. After her diagnosis, Jean prioritized her songwriting, practicing for hours a day and taking intense lessons to improve her craft.
“My teacher was intimidating, and I would leave those lessons with my armpits drenched,” she recalled. “It was worth it, but it’s also terrifying.” With every lesson, Jean had a better understanding of how to use music theory along with her vocal power to elicit emotion from her listeners.
Jean is excited to release her new album, which has been in the works for two years.
“In the past, I’ve done more rhythm and blues, some electronic stuff,” she said. “This is more jazz, smooth jazz, really—and the musicianship is just exquisite.” She recorded the album with a full band, describing the process as novel, collaborative, spontaneity-filled and incredibly enjoyable.
“It’s just beautiful how they feed off each other and respond,” she said. “It’s almost like a living organism.” Though the album won’t be out for awhile, you can check out Jean’s upcoming shows at xx and with the band Foreverland as a lead vocalist.