Jenny Fowler Graham Singing in L.A.
the tennis court to courting Hollywood, Jenny Fowler Graham
is serving up the sound of music. The 1981 Enid High School
graduate and former tennis star is a session singer for two
vocal contractors in Los Angeles. In layman's terms, that
means she sings with a backup choir or does vocal background
sounds for movies. Her most recent work was for the children's
animation "The Polar Express," now showing at Oakwood
Mall Theatres. "I did quite a bit of sessions for 'The
Polar Express,'" Graham said in a recent phone interview.
"I did five different sessions," She sang backup
for classic pop singer Josh Groban’s track "Believe."
"It was a good song, too, not just pop. It was a pretty
song," Graham said.
She also worked closely with composer Alan Silvestri. "He's
a genius. I hope he wins an Academy (Award)," Graham
said. Silvestri previously penned music for the "Back
to the Future" series, "Cast Away," "Forrest
Gump" and "Van Helsing." Perhaps one of the
most interesting roles Graham portrayed in "The Polar
Express" was a singing elf. It was "like being at
a football game as a drunken elf. We got to sing out of tune
— we're (session singers are) always so precise most of the
As a session singer, Graham doesn't know what she'll be doing
until she gets to the studio. "It's not a case of having
the music beforehand. It's a matter of sight singing,"
she said. Graham described much of work as "mainly mood
stuff. Oohs, aahs." "We get excited when we have
words to sing," she said. "You go and might be asked
to sing something on your own. Or you have to sing with three
people. You go and be ready." "Some movies just
want a few things with vocals, some movies have lots of vocal
texturing," Graham said. She said she might be in the
studio for a few hours or the session might last for days.
"There's no set rule." Since March, she's participated
in six movies, including "Spider-Man 2," "Van
Helsing" and "I, Robot." Graham has a couple
of movies coming up this holiday season, but she said she
wasn't at liberty to speak about them.
So does she go to the theater and watch the films she's worked
on to check out what made it and what hit the cutting floor?
"If we go, it's because my kids want to go and see it,"
Graham said. "Sometimes it's so disappointing."
The mother of 11-year-old twins, Thomas and Emily, Graham
and her husband, Mark, have lived south of Los Angeles for
the past six years.
Before moving to California, the family lived in London. "I
used to do sessions in London when we lived there. I stopped
when I had the twins. I didn't sing for a few years,"
Graham said. During her 10 years in England, Graham did work
for the BBC and was a member of the a cappella group, The
Swingle Singers. The Swingle Singers, which formed in England
in the early 1970s, regularly consists of eight session singers
who perform a variety of music from classical pieces to popular
movie soundtracks. The group is still popular in Europe today.
"I did that for four years. The singing was very clever
and tricky," Graham said. She said she was excited to
slip back into her singing career now that the twins are older.
"My husband is in the movie industry as well. He knew
the right people to send things to. That helped me out a lot,"
Graham said. "It's really like a dream come true. I've
always enjoyed it. I'm glad I get to do it again. My kids
think it's really cool, too."
Does tennis ever cross her mind anymore? "I had to choose
in college - a scholarship for tennis or a scholarship for
music. I kept with the singing. I stopped playing tennis,"
Graham said. Now that her children play soccer and tennis
and dance, "I've started back. I play for teams here,
mainly for exercise."
By Ruth Ann Replogle
Enid News and Eagle 2004