Jen Rosen

“I was born and raised in Redondo Beach, California. I moved to Claremont to attend Pomona College. There I received my B.A. in Art. I was given a guitar as a graduation present from my father. I cried when he gave it to me. It was a classical six-string that he picked up at a swap meet, but when I held it in my arms I knew that it was a pivotal moment in my life. 

From then on I always had a guitar in tow, asking friends to show me chords and teach me things. I remember the sparkling eyes of Charles Chase as I traded in my classical for a 12-string at the Folk Music Center. I dragged it on cross-country journeys, never getting tired of tuning it. I think I found my voice somewhere in South Dakota singing at the top of my lungs in my Jeep Cherokee towards the Black Hills. I also lived for a stint in the North East and formed my first band. It was a female folk band called Sista Luv. 

Life seems to move in circles and several years later I found myself back in Claremont. But this time I had in my back pocket a little more wisdom and a greater sense of vision. I longed to create another band and recreate the magic. Soon I found myself on a back porch on 10th Street playing folk music with a beautiful group of young women under the grace of a giant oak tree. It was so much fun! A few weeks later I called in seasoned musician and dear friend, Joy McAllister-Fox, to join the fun. When her harmonica dove into the mix, I think all of us got chills. I think I can honestly say, that in that moment, we all knew we had something unique and beautiful and worth sharing with others. We were a band! We decided to call ourselves Sugar Mountain Mama Serenade.

And I cannot close without honoring the late, great John Harrelson who was my guitar teacher and musical mentor for several years. He really opened up doors for me, sharing his knowledge and giving me more tools to express myself musically. 

Music opens hearts, touches souls, heals wounds, inspires change, ignites passion, and brings together community. It is powerful and sacred.” 

Photography by Althea Sachs