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10 Feb 2009

Eltonites... Please get up, stand up and welcome the fantastic... MORTONETTE JENKINS!!!!!

The 1989 World Tour was the first tour I went to a concert. It was in Barcelona and I was an eltonite since 1984. I had to be at school, theorically, but I arranged to get my tickets and, along with a friend, we went to Barcelona to see the show. It was fantastic. I was so surprised for the three talented backing vocalist on the band: what a powerful voices!!! Elton was in a good mood and everything was fantastic. Well, almost everything because I'd lost the train to come back home and my parent had to go to the big city for us, and it was like "What are you doing in Barcelona???"... "Oh, didn't tell ya? I went to a concert!!!" I couldn't come out for almost a month, on weekends but it was a fantastic experience (the show, obviously). When I began the "Unforgettable People" section on the blogsite, the first I thought about were Mortonette, Marlena and Natalie. Now, we have Mortonette Jenkins (now Stephens). I contacted with her and I have to say she is a fantastic woman. She accepted to be here with us and she surprised me for her energy and good feeling. Ladies & Gentlemen... AllSongsList is proud to welcome one of the fantastic girls from Elton's 1988-1992 Band.... The fabulous, unique and talented singer... MOrtonette Jenkins!!!

So, thank you very much Mortonette. There are no words to tell you how excited I feel. It’s a privilege and an honour to do this interview. You have to know I’d been looking for you long time, first, trying to find information about you, then to contact you. At the end, God heard me and guided me to his angel, to you I mean.

It is also an Honor to be contacted by you. In our emails to each other I have sent you sample songs from one of my solo CD's , I hope you enjoyed the gift. (smile) Mortonette.

Oh, really I did!!! Fantastic songs, Mortonette. You have been a backup singer for 30 years, singing with Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Eric Clapton, Barbara Streisand, Tammy Wynette, Lionel Ritchie, Bruce Hornsby, Don Henley, Michael MacDonald, Frank Sinatra, to name only a few. Have you been privileged to meet those people, have you?

Yes ! I've been on stage with each one of them in performances, except Lionel I worked with him in the studio only.

Capital Records signed you for recordings under the name Jodi Mathis. You sang background for Barbara Streisand on two of her live concerts, signed on concert tours with Paul Anka for eleven years and toured with Linda Ronstadt. How was it touring with those people?

Barbara was a total perfectionist and she would receive 20 minute standing ovations. Pretty awesome ! When I was with Paul Anka we toured some very exotic places in the south of France for Billionaires Private Parties, so touring with him was very good. Linda Ronstadt is truly a love, she respects her singers as equals and we stay always in the best hotels and great travel.

As we said before, you did several tours with Elton, and you replaced Alex Brown, it was 1989. Could you tell me how you got involved with Elton and how you ended up recording and touring with him? Also, how do you value that experience from a personal point of view and was it a good starting point for your solo career? And have you been an Elton fan before?

Alex and I are like sisters, and when she left to do her solo album so got me in on the auditions, I was still with Paul Anka at that time but was ready for a change after 11 years (chuckle)2. Alex submitted my name for the audition, and lovingly supported me by driving me to the audition. I had to audition like everyone else I had to be really on to make her proud, and in the end Davey chose me. (yeah!) (smile) I Value that experience as one of the best of my life, getting an Elton John gig is one of the greatest jobs in the whole entire universe. Elton treated me soo-ooo Good! and he showed respect for my talent. He told me on several occasions what a great singer and team player I was. I just love him. He truly is a total genius in his field. And never misses a note. That's phenomenal ! ! ! It was not connected as a point for my solo career however. That came about from getting an audition with a show called "WILD WOMEN BLUES" starring Linda Hopkins, the Blues Legend and touring europe with her for five years as one of the lead singers in that show. We toured Paris, Germany, Lisbon, Monte Carlo, Solvenia, to name a few also New York, Texas, Chicago, and Los Angeles. She is who I consider my vocal and performance mentor. If you google her you'll see how incredible she is. I learned how to be out front from her. And to answer the Elton fan question of course, every since benny and the jets I feel in love with Elton's music.

The 1989 World Tour is known for two things: A) because never “Sad Songs (Say So Much)” has sounded as good as you three girls, Mortonette, Marlene Jeter and Natalie Jackson, did. B) because Elton was going through very bad personal problems, even collapsing onstage one time, during the tour’s first week. What do you remember about that period? Was it Elton's decision to use them to do vocal solos on the intro to Sad Songs?

Yes ! Elton wanted to showcase our voices, very generous don't you think. It was quite a BLAST !

I’ve always wondered what the rehearsals for Elton’s live concerts were like. We got to see a few seconds of yourself and the whole band rehearsing with Elton before the beginning of the tour in a documentary that was made during the 1992 tour. But, what was it really like? Did everyone work together and come up with the final arrangements during the sessions or did Elton walk in with an idea and tell you how he’d imagined the arrangements for every particular song?

Months of rehearsing takes place before you even hit the road, hours and hours of rehearsing takes place in order to give everyone great performances, and the arrangements are done with Elton, Davey and then the other guys play and play to the perfection. Then Davey gives us our back-ground parts to learn that go along with the arrangements they've already perfected, we then perfect our parts, then the real rehearsals begin. Elton is very exacting and does not settle for less than perfection in rehearsals or during performances.

AnnaBCN would like to ask you one question, if you don't mind: Elton has been described by most people who have worked with him as a hard working, a perfectionist and a very professional performer. Is he such a perfectionist and would you say he was difficult to please as a boss? Any anecdotes you could share with us?

Elton is a perfectionist as I mentioned above, but as long as you are a perfectionist in your position there is only mutual respect and love. He does not tolerate anything less than the best, which makes me feel good I was chosen to be one of his singers.

You have been in the studio to record the “Sleeping With The Past” album. This album marked a new union workingship with Elton and Bernie. And you have been in the 1990 Don Was sessions too. At least 8 songs remain unreleased from this session with Don Was, and 7 songs remain unreleased from “Sleeping With The Past”. Do you remember anything about these songs, any title? And was Bernie Taupin in the studio, for those sessions? Do you know why the Don Was sessions didn’t end with an album, finding only some of the songs in the “To Be Continued” compilation?

Confidential info. Sorry on that one. (smile)

I understand, of course, thank you anyway... Kudisan Kai, the artist formerly known as Natalie Jackson, has made an incredible journey from opera to alternative metal. Marlene Jeter is still backing vocals with well-known artists. Are you still in touch with them now?

Yes ! Kudisan got married, and is teaching in Boston at a University there. Marlena is doing an incredible solo career composing, singing and getting ready to release a great project she did in her own studio. Marlena and I see each other all the time, she lives 3 minutes from me, literally right down the street, we just love each other, and Alex and I see and talk with each other all the time as well, though she lives in Los Angeles, I go to LA a lot.

When I posted that an interview with you was gonna come, I received a lot of mails with questions for you. It’s difficult to choose among all the great questions, but it’s an ending list of. For example: Matt Wilkinson from Middlesbrough, England would like to ask you if you still keep in touch with Elton John?

Marlena and my Daughter went to see him at Ceasar's here in Vegas, I couldn't go I had out of town quest, I talk to Davey from time to time, but Haven't talk to Elton personally, Bob Haley and I email each other a lot, he had been with Elton for maybe 30 years up until recently.

Oh, could you tell me your five favourite Elton's songs in running order, for my AllSongsList? Thank you.

Benny and the jets, Blue Avenue. I'm still standing, Norma Jean, Club at the end of the street, The one.

Mortonette, you recently released a new project, “Moods of Life”. This album is a mix of standards performed with your trademark soul stirring style... a mix of spirit, jazz, and blues, with your powerful mezzo-soprano voice. Your cover of George Michael “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, it’s so powerful and beatiful. How you chose these songs?

”I can't make you love me” was one of the solo number's I did in the Wild Women Blues Show. And the other songs are songs that I love. I love some many different songs, and styles of music it's always hard to pick what to do. I just got my own studio and I will be writing and recording originals right from my own studio, I put you on my list as one of the first to receive what I come up with. Only if you promise to help promote it, no matter how it sounds.(chuckle)2 just kidding. I will sound great.

Wow, my God!!! I will!!! In fact, recorded at InnerSound Studios, this album project was produced and arranged by genius composer, producer and musician, John Barnes. Price: $15.00. Recomendable of course, a must to have album!!

Finally, would you want to add some observation or suggestion, or something you want to say to the eltonites?

It's all about the love, respect and appreciation , I have only love, gratitude, and thankfulness in my Heart.

Thanks!!! You have a great website. That’s We could read your biography; we could purchase the 3 CD’s you have recorded, even have a test listen set up; we could buy your meditation CD’s; we could see an extensive photo gallery (yes, with a picture with Elton, fans); and we could read an interesting section called “Let’s Talk”: that’s a series of questions and answers about the spirit of and in all things. In what we have to believe, Mortonette?

Yes ! Please, I will be updating the Let's talk section with a new book I just finished writing , Let me know if any of you are interested ? It's the completed Let's Talk series in book form. So many of my friends and fans asked for it so I finally did it. It' will be available for sell soon. Maybe by April, 2009.

Good new, really!!! Thank you. Fans outhere!! We should take a look to her website and we should buy her records, some of them self-produced. They are very enjoyable!! Let’s recommend you to read the dialog sequence between the physicist Mr. Goofy and the mathematician Homey Brother on the website’s section called “EXTREME THOUGHT” . They conceive the complex force of Universal Gravitational Flux as the real physical Creator in all existence of the universe, including matter from atomic particle to galactic, all biological activities from cellular to organic species of plants and animals, and all natural and man-made chemical activities occurring in all time. They perceive their debates as meriting the nomination for a Nobel Prize. Very very interesting!!

Well, that’s the end. You have been very kind to us, you should know how much eltonites we love you and remember you. You are a sweet and lovely person, Mortonette. We’ll never forget you. God Bless You and good luck in your projects!! Oh, before you go, I would like to surprise you and I will try to make you smile... I thought about inviting some people you love, to give me their quotes on you, if you don't mind...

Kudisan Kai (formerly Natalie Jackson), singer: If I were to make a statement about Mortonette that would sum up my feelings about our time with Elton, I would say that she was the spiritual glue that held us all together. She is amazing. She comes to the world with a wealth of experience and is open, loving, and graciously willing to share. Our time together was fun, a learning experience, and most of all, a healing experience. I will always treasure that time spent with her. I don't get to see or speak with her as much as I would like. But she knows that she always holds a special place in my heart".

Paul Buckmaster, arranger and composer: "It is one of the sweet and beautiful blessings in my life to have met, and gotten to know Mortonette Jenkins, not only as a supremely talented, experienced, and professionally competent vocalist, who has been endowed by heaven with a most richly beautiful singing voice, but also as one of my dearest and special friends. Mortonette has also been somewhat of a spiritual guide for me, a friendly help, who, because of her commitment to truth, beauty, and intelligence, has and continues to be one of those friends who helps us on life's path, to a deeper understanding and experience of freedom and precious liberty. There's a line from one of Sting's songs with which I cannot but agree: "If you love someone, set them free ..." But then, on the other hand, what sweeter bonds can there be than true friendship, or true love ... Or better still, that transcending devotion to the cultivation of a redeeming good will, for all mankind? Is this not a sublime paradox: the bonds of true friendship and true love, especially transcendent good-will for all mankind, which are in essence the liberating expression of freedom? In short, I love Mortonette!"

Marlena Jeter, singer: "In reference to Mortonette, she is one of the most incredible people I have ever known! Not only is she a gifted singer, she is one of the most powerful Beings on the planet! She has a way of touching a person's life and making it better in the process. The best way to sum it up would be to say that she really is one of those Rare and Special people few of us have an opportunity to know up close and personal."

Thank you Kudisan, Paul and Marlena!!! Eltonites... there will be another surprise this week....

(sources from Mortonette's official website).

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