Jesse Witney was one of those young kids you see on groovy parents shoulders at festivals. His family has a strong musical pedigree, with both his parents being musicians, as well as festival producers of the Imbil Folk festival for over 15 years. His older brother Matty Witney, who he performed with in the Brothers Witney, is currently a Chicago resident musician.
Jesse started singing at an early age, with an obvious talent. At 13 years he picked up a bass guitar and helped form the punk band, ‘Better than Britney’, by 16 years old he was winning music competitions, including the “George Hoya Tribute Award’, and getting a name for himself in the surf-music scene. He moved to Lismore to study guitar performance at Southern Cross University with Jim Kelly.
One day Doug de Vries, the leading exponent of Brazilian guitar in Australia, gave a lecture about Brazilian guitar music and “a light came on” for him and he began to study Brazilian music with a passion. By 20 years old he had learnt the language. And by 21 years years old was in Brazil, gigging as much as possible across the country as a whole, and recording with a plethora of Brazilian talents, including Producer – Marcelo Müller.
His deep appreciation and immersion into the Brazilian tradition has been a constant in his musical journey, and infuses his music with a spicy edge. He also performs under the moniker ‘My Bossa Nova Baby’ performing the traditional samba-folk of Brazil. His debut album of originals, Animal Cities is out now.