Jeanette Bertha Harris was born on March 9, 1979 in Fresno, California, to Floyd and Annette Harris. She showed an interest in music at an early age and by her 5th birthday she was playing the guitar in the church she attended. At age 6, she began taking piano lessons, and at age 9, during her 4th grade year, she started playing the saxophone. While other kids were spending their time playing video games and watching television, Jeanette could be found in her room practicing her saxophone.
Jeanette’s interest in music was supported and encouraged by her parents and her older brother Michael. Her father, Floyd Harris, Sr. plays the tuba and her brother, Michael, is a percussionist. In 1994, Jeanette, along with her father and her brother formed “The Harris Family Ragtime Band”. The band performed throughout California, from homeless shelters to big Dixieland festivals.
Jeanette was introduced to Latin Jazz while attending Roosevelt High School where she played the lead alto in the school’s Latin Jazz Band. She also played the piano in the Fresno City College Latin Jazz Band. During her high school years, she auditioned and was chosen to play in various honor bands, and while attending Bullard High School, she was the featured Saxophonist at one of Bullard’s appearances at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
Upon graduation from high school, Jeanette received a number of scholarships which enabled her to pursue her dream of attending the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. She continued to hone her skills on the saxophone while broadening her understanding of music. She was the lead Saxophonist in the Berklee College Female Big Band and played in various venues in Boston, New Hampshire, New York and Maine. She graduated from Berklee in 2001 with a Bachelor of Music with a major in Performance.
Jeanette’s love of music and musical performance did not diminish. After her graduation from Berklee, she returned home to Fresno, California to start a smooth jazz band with her brother Michael Harris. Getting started was not easy, she would go to local clubs and ask if she could play at no cost to the club, but was turned down repeatedly. The “No Thank You" responses did not discourage her. She became more determined than ever and continued to master her saxophone and develop her own sound.
Then one day, a gentleman named Lionel Hawkins called to ask her if she would play his cigar shop, “Smoke Affair”. She accepted the invitation and made the most of it. During this same time period, the brother-sister team, (which consisted of Jeanette on saxophone and Michael on precessions), decided to put together their own show on a small stage at a local pizza spot on Fresno’s Fulton Mall. Long lost friend Patrick Olvera (bass) decided to Venture back from Boston to reunite with the brother sister duo for this show. With the help of family members, this night was a major success. Local clubs started calling and the local smooth jazz radio station, KEZL 96.7, invited Jeanette and her band to play at the Riverbend Jazz Festival.
The Jeanette Harris Band has played in a number of Jazz Festivals, including the “The Hollywood Park Jazz Festival”, “The Inglewood Jazz Festival”, “The San Diego Street Festival”, the “Riverbend Jazz Festival”, the “China Town Jazz Festival” and the “African Village Festival”. She’s opened for and/or played with the following smooth jazz greats; The Rippingtons; Eric Marienthal; Kirk Whalum; Eloise Laws; Denise William; Phil Perry; Howard Hewitt; Andre Fischer; Everette Harp; Paul Jackson Jr.; Veretta Hathaway; Debra Laws; Najee; Michael Ward; and Will Barrow. She is currently playing at different spots across the country and hopes to add international venues to her schedule soon.
Jeanette released her first CD, “Here and There” on the J&M Record label.
Her second CD, “Jeanette Harris Live at Platinum Live” and her newest release, “Reflections”, are on the J&M record label. If you like good music, you will enjoy these CD’s.