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Vanessa's Test

How a former substitute teacher muscled her way to the CD rack at Best Buy.

November 26, 2008|By Michael Miller

The singer-songwriter, who grew up in Riverside and recently moved to Huntington Beach, recorded her first album, 2001’s “Give Me a Stage,” with a friend who ran a makeshift recording studio in the backroom of a sewing shop (The album’s liner notes thank the two women who ran the business.) Three years later, she followed it with “Wanderlust,” most of which was recorded in the back of a warehouse.

Both times, Jourdan and her producer, Paul Antony, played nearly all the instruments themselves — in part because they were proficient, and in part to save money on backing musicians. Jourdan overdubs most of her own harmonies on the records, sometimes laying her voice down three or more times.

During the two years she worked on “Eternal Things,” Jourdan didn’t have a full-time job, barely eking out a living as a restaurant hostess and high school substitute teacher. She finished the album early in 2007, but didn’t have enough money to have it duplicated. Eventually, she scored a job at the Kids Institute for Development & Advancement and mailed copies of the CD to those who had pre-ordered them, attaching a note with each one thanking her fans for their patience.

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Since then, Jourdan said, some of her most fulfilling moments have come from looking her albums up online and seeing where they’ve landed. Many downloading websites are affiliated with others, and Jourdan’s songs have ended up on CD Universe, Music is Here, MusicStack and other sites she didn’t even know existed.

Best of all, that wide distribution can turn into sales — even if some of the sites keep a large amount of the proceeds for each track.

“Some of the numbers I’ve seen are just a fraction of a number,” Jourdan said about her payments. “But it means people are listening to it.”

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