Jeanne puts the ‘Jolly’ into singing

Jeanne Jolly will be performing with the Catamount Singers and Electric Soul of the WCU Friends of the Arts annual fundraiser, April 24, 2015.

Jeanne Jolly will be performing with the Catamount Singers and Electric Soul of the WCU Friends of the Arts annual fundraiser, April 24, 2015.
Photo courtesy of WCU Office of Public Relations.

Western Carolina University Friends of the Arts will hold its annual fundraiser on Friday, April 24 in the John W. Bardo Arts Center with a special performance by the singer-songwriter and WCU alumna, Jeanne Jolly.

The show “All Night Long,” features Jolly who will be joined by WCU’s Catamount Singers and Electric Soul, a 12-member student instrumental group, starts at 8 p.m.

The performance will be preceded by the Friends’ silent auction that begins at 4:30 p.m., and the evening also will include an announcement of the winner of a raffle for a free trip for two to explore North Carolina. The funds raised will go for scholarships and arts programming for students in WCU’s College of Fine and Performing Arts.

Patrons will be able to use mobile bidding, a new feature this year for the auction where they can use text messaging to bid.

“This is an opportunity for the community to show its support by purchasing items at the silent auction and attending a fabulous show. The evening will be fun, entertaining, and not to be missed,” said Dianne Lynch, the co-chair of the event.

A Raleigh native, Jolly enrolled at WCU as a music major in 1997 and joined the Catamount Singers when the group was organized a year later by Bruce Frazier. After her graduation in 2001, Jolly earned her master’s degree in vocal performance at the New England Conservatory in Boston, and moved to Los Angeles to pursue her music career.

Over the years, critics have raved about Jolly’s soulful blend of pop and folk stylings that refuses to be pigeon-holed in one genre of music. A reviewer for the Atlanta Music Guide said, “Imagine Joni Mitchell with Billy Holiday’s stylings.” The Boston Globe said Jolly is “one of contemporary music’s best-kept secrets.”

Jolly came back to Cullowhee in 2007 to accept the WCU Alumni Association’s Young Alumnus Award and sing the National Anthem at the Homecoming football game, and she returned again in 2009 to help celebrate the life and career of Robert Holquist upon the WCU professor of music’s retirement. Holquist recruited Jolly to become a student in WCU’s School of Music, and he became her voice instructor, mentor and friend.

Jolly said the year 2009 also brought about big changes in her life, including her move from Los Angeles back to Raleigh and, a few months later, the passing of her mother.

“Three weeks after my mom died, I started taking guitar lessons. Songwriting quickly became my release, my therapy, and now, it has become one of my true joys,” she said in a story for WCU Office of Public Relations.

Jolly sat down with Becca Roberts and Darren Blackwell to talk about her experiences including her time at WCU.

Tickets for “All Night Long” are $15 for adults, $10 for WCU faculty and staff, and $5 for students. To get your ticket, you can call 828-227-2479 or visit the website

Michael Williams helped in the shooting of this story.