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Friday, August 4, 2017

Exclusive Interview: Jeanette Jurado of Exposé Grateful to Share the Stage with Her 'Sisters' Thirty Years After 'Exposure'

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(Photo: Robert Valesco)

There are very few albums in my life that I've liked from start to finish Exposure, the debut effort from legendary girl group Exposé is still near the very top of my short list of favorites. 1987 was a year of firsts for me- first job slinging fish in a fast food restaurant. First summer of freedom thanks to turning sixteen and having a bestie with a car. First taste of heartbreak courtesy of a boy that I didn't honestly even like.Exposé was there with me every step of the way. Whether they were blaring from a boombox while my friends and I laid in the sun covered in baby oil or were whispering through my Walkman headphones about seasons changing while tears rolled down my cheeks at 2am, they were there. And I was grateful.

Perhaps the best thing about the 80's being so hot right now is hearing my kids walk around the house singing the exact same songs that I was singing at their age. Why? Because the music is fun and it holds up and that's precisely the reason why you can catch acts like Exposé (Jeanette Jurado, Gioia Bruno and Ann Curless) still lighting up the stage. Over the last few years I've had a few opportunities to catch the ladies live and to connect with both Gioia and Ann, both of whom I adore.

Jeanette has been a bit more elusive. I'd liken it to catching a unicorn, you just know that if somehow you can make it happen it'll be totally worth the time and effort. This week I was finally able to chat with her one-on-one and was not disappointed. She is deeply devoted to her family, including her Exposé sisters, and has a sense of humor and sarcastic streak that I really appreciate. Most of all, Jeanette was totally present in this interview and really dug deeper than even I expected. Check it out below. Click the links and if you have an opportunity, go and see Exposé live. I promise you'll love every minute!



Cate Meighan: It has been more than thirty years since you, Gioia Bruno and Ann Curless broke onto the music scene as Exposé, What is it that keeps you still out there performing in 2017?

Jeanette Jurado: First of all, I'm not at peace with myself or comfortable with myself unless I'm singing somewhere. If I go too long without singing my boys are like “Mom!!!” because I'm singing around the house or I'm singing in the shower full blast (laughing). I have to have some way to be able to get that out of me, it's like this built up energy and if I can't go out and sing then I'm not a happy individual. The second reason is actually getting together with Gioia and Ann. I keep joking with them about how you hear of maybe once a year girl's getting together with their friends and planning a girls weekend. I get to see them all the time and get paid (laughing)! What's there to complain about? We go and stay at a nice hotel, enjoy dinner and catch up on what's going on in each others' lives. The third thing is the audience, of course. That moment when you first go out on stage and you just feel the audience and the energy of that room. It really is, quite addicting. It's really all of those things that keeps me out there performing regularly.

(Photo: Robert Valesco)

CM: Onstage I know that you refer to each other as “sisters”. Does it really feel like a sisterhood to you?

JJ: It's absolutely true. I have two real-life sisters, no brothers. I'm the middle of the three. There's nobody that I argue with and love more. In some ways you can kind of get away with stuff because you love them so much that you know you're going to come back and work it out. Ya know, you're sisters so you kind of have to. That's the same way that it is with Gioia and Ann and I'm glad that we feel comfortable enough to be horrible with each other sometimes (laughing). I think it's a healthy thing and whenever there is conflict between us I do think, “Okay, they're my sisters and I know we're going to get past this just give it a little time.” and in the end, we always do.

  

CM: The group really skyrocketed quickly (seven back-to-back top ten Billboard hits) and you found yourselves on the road with your sisters. Did you enjoy that part back in the early days of Exposé?

JJ: That's a hard one. There was a time when we were in Europe together, I think we were in Scotland and I was just so young and homesick. Growing up I was never one of those kids that wanted to travel the world, I was not even interested (laughing). I thought I was going to get married and have children and stay in East LA for the rest of my life so, surprise (laughing)! I was very young and I was literally having a hard time getting out of bed. I just wanted to stay in the hotel, order room service and watch CNN because it connected me to the United States. Had it not been for Annie, who had to literally at one point go and get a key to my room and force me to come out- and she yanked me out (laughing) and made me leave. She said I'd never get this opportunity again and that I had to get out of bed because she had made reservations to go see this and that. I think I was literally crying and she would often push me to go and see things that I thought I had no interest in. Had it not been for her I probably wouldn't have enjoyed half of the places that we traveled to.

That still really sticks out in my mind. I'm so grateful and I always thank her because without Ann I wouldn't have done half the things that I did. I'm much different now, but I think then I was just so young and naive that I didn't realize the golden opportunity that was right in front of my eyes that I fell into. I just didn't get it. I just thought, oh this happens to everybody that wants to be a singer (laughing). I think back now and it's comical, I thought it would always be there and I'd always be traveling- you know, who doesn't get a tour bus (laughing)? Because when you grow up and this is what you wish for this is what happens, right? No. Now I look back and realize the amazing blessings I had. Just the record company and having Gioia and Ann and being able to travel. It was all a little miracle in itself. Now I know! You're young and you think you're just invincible until you grow a little more and realize you're not.

 


CM: Once Exposé started to conquer the charts several other girl groups like Sweet Sensation and The Cover Girls also started to break out. Did you keep your eye on the competition?


JJ: I'd have to say I was pretty secure (laughing) only because we were so busy that I probably wasn't even paying attention. The three of us discuss that quiet often, how we were so busy and just spinning in everything going on within us and around us. Everything was so new to us so to tell you the truth I was not paying attention. I was secure in a very naive way (laughing). I had enough to worry about within Exposé to waste a minute worrying about anything outside of Exposé. We were absolutely in our own bubble and I don't remember having conversations about what anyone else was doing.


CM: When the group disbanded back in 1996, were you ready to move on?

JJ: I was def ready. We were all just so miserable in that contract. I didn't think that at the time I was saying goodbye to Kelly (Moneymaker, who replaced Gioia Bruno in the early 90's) and Ann. I knew that it wouldn't be goodbye for the three of us so I was good with that. I knew that wasn't gonna go away. But we were all just so tired of waiting to be told what we could or couldn't do. We were also not as young as when we had first started and so there were other things that had become important to us. Our freedom being one of them(laughing). I was definitely ready to not be in that position any more.

 

CM: So then you fast forward a decade and you girls decided to reunite. Was that an easy transition or did it take some pushing?

JJ: It took a little pushing in the beginning. It was weird talking to the girls about coming back. I think so much of it for me was wondering if we would still have an audience, because I didn't know for sure. I had met a friend that suggested we get back out there and I called a few booking agents thinking that interest really wouldn't be there. But once I had conversations with various people that were still anxious to work with us, then I thought that maybe we were just missing out on an opportunity to still be doing this. I think some pushing came between the three of us, actually putting ourselves in that zone after we had been on our own for so long. We are three very headstrong women and getting together and making decisions can be tough. Sometimes what's great for Ann and I may not be the best thing for Gioia or vice versa and so it's always a compromise. Just like in any marriage, it's a constant compromise and so it takes a lot of putting your ego aside. Luckily, we were all ready to do that and so, here we are. Ann and I still have kids at home to worry about. The good thing is that Gioia is also a mom (her daughter is 29) so she really understands those feelings and that love and how important it is to be present. Somehow it all balances itself out. She knows that this is the real gig, here at home (laughing).

CM: I'm generally a B-side girl when it comes to music. What are some of your favorite Exposé songs that maybe weren't released as singles or haven't gotten the mainstream accolades as say, “Point Of No Return”?

JJ: A favorite of mine that didn't get as much attention. Funny enough, “In Walked Love” I love doing and I love the adult contemporary genre of our songs. I love being able to sing background (laughing). I love sitting behind Gioia or Ann and supporting them because I don't get to do it all the time. I get to sit back and really hear their voices and work on blending backgrounds and those are some of my favorite moments and songs. We rate our own performances on whether or not it was a great blend or the volume of the band. Those are all of the things I'm actually thinking of (laughing) and we need to have the full band with us to really figure out how to tweak our performances in general. We all discuss the technical part when we get off stage.


It depends on the audience that we're about to perform for how we pick our songs and how we get to perform them. When we're doing the freestyle shows and it's a bunch of people onstage then we only have a short amount of time and I know the audience is there to hear the hits. So it's like bam- bam-bam, I'll arrange the show that we're about to do to please that audience. When we have a show where we have a live band, then I know it's more relaxed and we have an opportunity to play around with our arrangements and our song choices as well. It's a much more personable audience and so we have to be more personable as well. That gives us a better chance to talk to our audience, maybe tell them a story about the songs and really just play off of each other a little bit. I think the audience expects to see that investment from us at that type of show.

CM: Expose` shows are generally on the weekend and so what does a typical weekday look like for you now?

JJ: Right now my day consists of doing things with the boys because they're out of school. When they're in school it's so much easier (laughing) because when they're here it's like “Mom can we do this, mom can we do that...” so there's a lot of planning around them and cooking three times a day rather than just once. Right now I'm also putting together another band and getting all of the music together , talking to the guys. A lot of scheduling and figuring out who is free for certain dates. There are new arrangements for the live band shows that we're doing. That's my day. I also talk to the booking agents and figure out if we want to do dates or not. So it's a little of family and work. I'm all encompassing of my family but I also get to do a little Exposé stuff  too. It's important to the three of us that we all have a responsibility in the group and so we've sliced it up in three pieces. My piece happens to be the music part of it.



I don't think that I'm any more technical than Gioia or Ann is but I have the advantage of working regularly with the band. Most of the time when we go out on the road I have a closer relationship with them because I work with them from where I live. I rehearse them and choose which band members we're going to use and so by the time we get to the stage there's already a great relationship between me and the guys. Ann and Gioia will sometimes just be working with them for that day or two and then they're off. So I keep up the relationship with phone calls so I'm kind of the link between the three of us and them.

CM: I think that our kids are about the same age. Is it as hard for you to step back and let your boys become more independent? I know I struggle with helicoptering myself.

JJ: I struggle every single second of the day. It is so difficult for me and the fact that my boys are both driving just like, drives me insane. You pray every time they get in the car and it's so difficult to let them fly on their own. I keep myself in check because I don't want to ruin them by being too over protective. It's just hard because there's no way that you can make sure they're safe once they go out the door so I have to tell myself that I've done my best. I've taught them, talked to them and then I shout things to them at least 12 times as they're walking out the door (laughing). These poor kids. It's my hardest struggle of all, letting them go.

CM: You so rarely speak on the record, what would you like to say to all of the fans that still listen toExposé and venture out to the live shows?

JJ: Oh my gosh, it's going to sound so corny but I'm just so grateful to them. I'm grateful that they have a desire to come and see us and that it's important enough to leave their homes and spend their hard earned money- whether it's for the first time or the fourth time. Sharing that time with them means so much to me, now more than ever, so I'm just really grateful. We did a show recently and it was a city-run event. The audience wasn't as big as we're used to, the advertising was a little strange and it was very hot. We performed and then after the show we actually walked around after the show and talked to the audience, which we never ever get to do. It was just the best thing talking to them was so wonderful. It's just like when I go to see a group that I admire or grew up with. When you meet them you tell them the story of why they're so important to you and what their songs remind you of. I love hearing all of that stuff and we so rarely get a chance to really do it!Even if we're signing autographs after a show it's not the same. This time we went out to talk and to connect with as many people as we could as they were leaving. It was so cool and I wish we could do that more often, have those actual
conversations when things aren't so crazy and venues aren't rushing to get people out the door.



The people were introducing us to their kids that they brought along,those Exposé babies
 (laughing)It was just so great and I wish and hope we'll maybe be able to do that more often. It's still weird to think that our songs and our music means as much to people as some of my favorites mean to me. So when we're reminded of our impact, for whatever reason, it makes me more grateful now than I've ever been. How can I not be? It just melts my heart knowing that it touches someone. 


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Check out everything imaginable about Exposé HERE

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Revisit the videos HERE

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Coming in August! Keep your eye on Exposé social media for more details!

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3 comments:

  1. Great interview...thank u

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  2. This was Great to read!! Thank you so much Care!!

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  3. Thank you for this fabulous interview. Not sure I've seen another Jeanette interview before. Loved it!

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