“Letters from Papa” is inspired by the plight of Terry Jenoure’s paternal grandfather in the 1930s. Some twenty years after migrating to Harlem in 1919, Maurice, affectionately called Papa, travels to Canada one summer for a brief visit with extended family. But upon return, lacking sufficient documentation, he is detained at the border. Although Jenoure had heard this family account about Papa many times over the years, in 2021, soon before her father died, he shared two letters that Jenoure’s grandfather had written to her grandmother that summer in the late 1930s while anxiously waiting to get home.
Using the letters verbatim for her vocals, Jenoure’s path to building this work is rooted in her love for family stories and her attraction to the mysticism of blood memory. Blending the worlds of narrative and abstraction, Terry Jenoure and The Portal translate the tense and sublime letters to channel Papa’s physical and emotional journey and hopes for safe return. Through the creation and performance of her grandfather’s letters, Jenoure has found new and increasingly profound understandings about her family. She has embarked on paths to explore how shame and pain are buried in the body through generations of silence.
Terry Jenoure – violin, vocals
Angelica Sanchez – piano
Wayne Smith – cello
Avery Sharpe – bass
Joe Fonda – bass
Reggie Nicholson – drums
“Touches of chamber jazz, lively gypsy dances and earthy call-and-response…sung expressively by violinist Terry Jenoure.” –The Washington Post
“Jenoure is a force to be reckoned with” –Springfield Inquirer, Massachusetts
“Jenoure demands attention….It is a voice of muscular lows and piercing cries, an agile, wiry survivor of a voice. It is the voice of faith in the apocalyptic urban wilderness” –Milwaukee Journal
A livestream will be available free of charge at 8pm on the day of the performance and archived for future viewing.