Seminole’s Savannah Radcliffe, also known as Savannah Jaine, is about ready to record her first album.
SEMINOLE – When she was in first grade at Seminole’s Blessed Sacrament Catholic School, little 6-year-old Savannah Radcliffe wanted to join the choir. Now she’s 23, calls herself Savannah Jaine, and is about to record her first album.
It may be a long way from Seminole to her current residence in Oklahoma City, and from the choir room to a recording studio, but it is a journey that seemed pre-determined for a little girl who could play the piano when she was 4 years old and who now has released a single “Maybe Love,” a song she wrote herself.
Vanessa Radcliffe, Savannah’s mom, recalls her daughter was into music practically from the day she was born.
“When she was in the first grade she wanted to join the children’s choir at Blessed Sacrament Church,” she said. “She was younger than the other kids but she stuck to it and even after she left to go to Seminole High came back to sing in the church.”
The choir director at Blessed Sacrament, Fred Eschenfelder, remembers Jaine very well.
“She was always very bubbly and full of life and wanted to do something with music, she was always the first one there,” he said. “I knew she would take her music skills with her as she moved on to high school.”
Jaine’s mother calls herself her daughter’s biggest fan.
“I’ve always been her biggest cheerleader,” she said. “I’m very proud that she has tried to make her talent better.”
“My mother was always supportive of what I wanted to do,” Savannah said. “When I was just 3 or 4 she’d put me on the piano stool and I’d sound out the notes from commercials or songs I heard on TV. She heard that and got me into piano lessons. When I was 11 and I wanted to record a CD of my own songs and she didn’t discourage me. She said OK and she is responsible for where I am today. She never yelled at me when I was up in my room all day singing, she never once told me to shut up.”
She says her dad was always there when she was younger too.
“He was always smiling and was always supportive,” Savannah said. “He never said much but he was always ready to go where we had to go.”
Often those places weren’t just around the corner. Back when she was 14 she went to California to compete in the “America’s Most Talented Kids” contest. She came in second.
She also remembers the contribution of her first choir director, Eschenfelder.
“He’s awesome,” she said. “Every time I go back he lets me sing. He taught me a lot of musical things that he might not even know he taught me.”
Jaine is in Oklahoma City because that is where she went to college and finished a Theater Arts degree from Oklahoma City University. After that she spent time living in Nashville but returned to Oklahoma City because of the extensive arts community in the area.
It will be the site of what she hopes will be a breakthrough in her career as she cuts her first album.
“I’m excited about this. The album will be called ‘Unbreakable’ and it will consist entirely of songs I wrote myself,” she said. “It will be a 5- or 6-song album and will be available online to download or in music stores. We’re going to record it at an independent studio here in Oklahoma City.”
The fact that Jaine writes her own material sometimes led to confusion.
“I used to call myself a singer-songwriter but now I say I’m a recording artist. It is less confusing that way,” she said. “I haven’t ever written any songs for others, but some people have expressed an interest so it might be something that I’ll try in the future.”
“I did do a little pop and I suppose you could call this folk-pop,” she said. “But I prefer just folk.”
Jaine has not signed on with an agent and that’s the way she wants it.
“I’m a control freak and I want control over my life,” she said. “Agents always seem to want to change you, change the lyrics, change your hair style, and change your performance.”
She hopes soon to go on another mini-tour to promote her new album and it will be a tour she organizes herself. “I used to work for a booking agent so I know what to do. I’ll book everything myself and get a starter campaign and radio promotion and all of that,” she said.
As for the future, Jaine has a wish.
“I hope that in four years I’m able to make enough money to be able to thrive, to be able to say I’m a success,” she said. “I don’t have any interest in being another Carrie Underwood or Katy Perry. So that will make it a little bit easier.”
For now, she’s looking forward to coming home after Christmas.
“I miss Florida a lot, especially during the holiday season,” she said. “I love where I am right now, but I am coming home the week after Christmas.”
She’ll be performing at the Sacred Grounds Coffee House on Busch Boulevard in Tampa on Dec. 29 then back to Oklahoma City before another gig in Dallas in February.
The last word here should probably go to Eschenfelder, Jaine’s first choir director who has no end of praise for the young artist.
“You knew there was something special there even back in the first grade,” he said. “We used to tease her all the time, we’d say, Savannah some day we’re going to be able to say, we knew you when.”