Janie Press Can't Sit Still

At Singnasium, we love getting to know our students and then spreading the word on their talents and adventures! Janie Press has been actively involved in Singnasium for a number of years now and we’re excited to share her story!

Janie Press is passionate about music. She sees music as a powerful vehicle to tell a story. That’s what drew her to cabaret, which is all about telling a story through music.

That’s also what drew Janie to a new cause that she’s now fully devoted to. About a year ago, Janie was watching 60 Minutes, and they were featuring an Italian pianist, composer and conductor named Francesco Lotoro. Francesco has spent 30 years working tirelessly to find, recover, study, archive, and then record  and perform thousands of pieces of music that were composed and played by prisoners in concentration camps during the Holocaust. Despite horrific conditions of deprivation and despair, these victims found ways to make music. Francesco has recovered over 8,000 scores. “The music covers everything from classical, gypsy, folk, even cabaret!” Janie explained. “I was so moved, I knew I wanted to help him in some way.”  

And that’s just what Janie did. She reached out to Francesco’s foundation in Italy to see if she could get involved. “They didn’t have anything established in the United States, so after a few conversations, I decided to start my own non-profit to support his efforts.” Holocaust Music Lost & Found, Inc. was established as of June 2021. Its mission includes to rescue more music that was written in concentration camps. And to share that music with the world, inspiring audiences to see how music can free the human spirit. Janie describes the work as “one of the most thrilling and gratifying things I’ve ever done.”  

Though Janie Press has a full plate, she still finds time for her own music and story-telling. While juggling her nonprofit work, Janie is also preparing for a cabaret show. This will be Janie’s fifth solo cabaret to date. It is her first, however, under the direction of Lennie Watts. 

The show is called “Retire: Who’s Got Time?” and it’s about musicians of a certain age (65 and up) who are still out there performing. “The oldest person represented in the show is Mel Brooks, who is 95! I’m also showcasing Judy Collins, Elton John, Barry Manilow, and many others. I was amazed there were so many talented, older people out there still getting up and performing and doing it so well!” 

Originally from Worcester, Massachusetts, Janie quickly found her way to New York City. She built a successful career in the fashion industry. Then about 20 years ago, Janie thought she would like to learn how to sing.  She discovered Helen Baldassare’s cabaret classes and fell in love with the cabaret world! She later joined Lennie Watts’s “Sing Your Story” class.

Check out Janie’s new show, directed by Lennie Watts, on October 8th and 21st at Don’t Tell Mama! 

The show is called “Retire: Who’s Got Time?” Certainly, Janie Press does not.

September 12, 2021 — Eve Eaton