About Jane Gillman

Originally a Marylander, I was raised by a writer mother and classical pianist father. I grew up with one ear glued to the pop stations on my transistor radio, the other tuned into the musical traditions in the DC community. Every summer I rode the bus downtown to soak up the musical treasures the Smithsonian brought to the steamy lawns that stretched between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial – the Cajun Balfa Brothers; harmonica hero Sonny Terry with Brownie McGhee, Jean Ritchie, Bill and Charlie Monroe – a real-life encyclopedia of American roots. I got my first guitar at 12 and the first of many harmonicas at 14.

In high school I began performing solo at the Red Fox Inn, a club a mile from home. Then at 17, I moved to Austin to study Folklore and Anthropology at the University of Texas. There I began to perform in bands, write songs, and tour, releasing 7 albums of original music along the way (Philo; Green Linnet/Compass; Rounder Records).

My favorite tour stops include folk festivals – Philadelphia, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Kerrville; clubs in big cities with no parking spots; smoky bars in Italy, and small-town venues assembled by local volunteer communities all for the love of music.

In 1990 I entered the world of musical theatre and appeared as a multi-instrumentalist in productions at Ford’s Theater, the Goodspeed Opera House, Vienna’s English Theatre, and with Missouri Rep’s National Tour of Woody Guthrie’s American Song; I served as Musical Director for Austin’s State Theater’s production of Dark of the Moon.

In 1999, I became one of just a few women harmonica players endorsed by Hohner.

No matter what creative path I take, collaboration is my joy.

Some of my favorite collaborative projects include –

Conceiving, co-creating, and scoring an impromptu short film in San Miguel de Allende Mexico, with a houseful of artist residents from different countries, including a painter, a seamstress, and a local cinematographer. Our film, Fire Animals/Fieras Vivaces, was selected for the Austin Under the Stars Film Festival in 2023, and won an award of Excellence from the Nature Without Borders Film Festival

Creating production music for European TV/film with creative, inventive (late) collaborator Gene Elders, whom I miss immensely.

Producing and co-writing the musical curriculum for Kindercare’s nationwide network of preschools. For two years, I corralled Austin artists of all genres, from blues to bluegrass, hip hop to hurdy gurdy, into Cris Burns’ Austin studio to create a musical education for children.

Creating the PrettySing Collective with Austin songwriter Barbara Wilson Clay, and producing a children’s album and songbook, Bad Dino. The PrettySing Collective was a group of Austin-based artists –painters, graphic artists, studio engineers, and 25 not-necessarily-famous musicians from the varied neighborhoods of Austin.

Just recently I’ve been performing on harmonica and octave mandolin with Up Around the Sun – musical and visual artist Tim Kerr and banjo master Jerry Hagins. Hope to see you around town at a live show.