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Indie arts scene finds its voice

Local lover of the arts hosts radio show, edits The Indie Times
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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The independent arts scene in Roseville is burgeoning, thanks in part to local residents whose life - and professional - passion involves shining a spotlight on this community.

One of those promoters is Rocklin resident Michele Jennae who, along with former Roseville resident Bill Walker, launched The Indie Times in January to cover news and events of indie artists throughout Placer County and the greater Sacramento area, and offer tips on how to succeed in the industry.

Walker recently got married and moved to Washington. But Jennae, 39, is keeping the online publication alive as editor in chief. The website features articles and interviews related to music, film, fashion, dance, books, theater and more.

"We open up a platform for people who have a voice in indie arts," Jennae said.

She also hosts a twice-weekly Internet radio program on HotMix106.com, playing mostly independent tunes. Through the process of sourcing songs for the program, which launched in May, she has been exposed to all sorts of artists and styles not heard on FM radio. She is especially fond of the blues, world music and reggae.

"I love being exposed to music and then getting to meet the people behind the music," Jennae said.

The radio show is also shedding light on artists who struggle to get heard and seen.

"Michele is giving exposure to those who weren't getting it and who should be getting it," said Curtis Hildebrand, aka the Flyin' Cowboy, who runs Sunny Dragon Studios in Roseville.

Hildebrand, a musician and producer, sometimes co-hosts Jennae's radio program.

"I support her very much," he said. "Indie arts are on the rise right now. The industry is changing."

He attributes this change in part to how the Internet has leveled the playing field for artists. Plus, major publishing houses and record labels have shrunk. As a result, the independent scene is growing - even locally.

"Roseville, this place used to be an armpit," Hildebrand said. "There was nothing going on here. I went away to the military and came back and the place had completely exploded."

Jennae comes from the corporate world with experience in sales, marketing, business management and recruiting. But she'd always had a passion for the arts - and she's often participated as an actor, writer and singer.

Several years ago, she lived in Puerto Vallarta and sang in beach bars and bistros. But her involvement in the arts scene ended following an attack in her house when she was almost strangled to death. Her life changed and she denied the artistic part of herself and dedicated her time to work and family.

But, eventually, she re-embraced her artistic side and exited the corporate world.

"I don't want corporate America to tell me I have to have a symmetrical haircut," she said, smiling.

Then, a chance encounter in a parking lot - Jennae was having car troubles - led to her meeting Walker and the birth of The Indie Times. The online publication now averages about 1,300 hits a month and keeps growing. They have eight regular contributors, who work for free.

"Placer County is hot," she said. "There are some awesome things going on."

As for Jennae, The Indie Times is a labor of love and one she hopes to share.

"I think I was meant to be in journalism and radio, but not in the traditional way," she said. "If I had done it when I was younger, I don't think I would have been as excited."

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.

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Tune in: Listen to the Michele Jennae Show at 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays on HotMix106.com.

Read all about it: To check out The Indie Times, visit www.theindietimes.com.