Rediscovery through local acoustic sets

Larshell Green

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Local sociology graduate student Jenn Rees, otherwise known by her stage name OAKES, returned to two local stages following an eight-month hiatus that resulted in self-reflection and personal growth.
Larshell Green/The Lion’s Roar

Sociology graduate student Jenn Rees managed to pave a path for herself in the world of acoustic music outside of the classroom.

Rees, known by her stage name OAKES, recently returned to the stage after an eight-month hiatus. She is known for performing sets of original songs and covers in a variety of genres at local bars, restaurants, private parties and festivals. 

Her first performance following the hiatus was at Tacos & Beer in New Orleans on Thursday, July 20. Rees returned to Hammond’s Tacos & Beer on Saturday, July 22 to perform. 

Rees admits that she has dedicated the past year to personal reflection and growth. 

“I had to take some time to rediscover and work on myself as an artist,” said Rees. “Performances require a lot of energy and emotion, and I had to take some time to ground myself and explore my emotional side in full.”

The decision to return to performing at Tacos & Beer was due to her history with the two establishments. 

“The Tacos & Beer performances in NOLA are always a good time,” said Rees. “The staff there is so incredibly welcoming, and that always makes for a good gig.”

Rees admitted that following her return she has only had positive reactions to her performances. She shares what she appreciates about performing in Hammond. 

“The biggest difference in performing for crowds in Hammond is how laid-back the overall energy is,” said Rees. “I love seeing familiar faces, and it’s humbling to have people who look forward to coming out and showing support.”

Rees was introduced to music when her mother confiscated her video gaming system as a child.

“My mom took away our Nintendo the summer before my 9th birthday and filled the house with instruments,” said Rees. “I picked up a guitar and 16 years later, voilà.”

Rees explains that although most songs that she performs are covers, she always finds a way to make performances her own.

“As far as songs go, it’s either requests, random or just a song that I hear in passing and really enjoy,” said Rees. “I always try to put my own spin on things though.”

Some performers prefer to use the stage as an opportunity to transmit creativity to audiences, but Rees finds performing to be therapeutic.

“The best thing about returning to the stage was the feeling of letting it all out vocally,” said Rees. “Performing really pushes me mentally, emotionally and physically.”

Although Rees has not confirmed plans about her future ventures in the art and music world, she has her sights on a simple gift that she can give the world: kindness.

“I haven’t really given much thought to leaving a legacy,” said Rees. “I just try to live in a way that inspires people to be the best they can be. Life is short. Kindness is a superpower. We all have the power to make the world brighter.”

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