Jemma Griffiths aka Jem was born on June 18, 1975 in Penarth, Wales. Wales borders England and is nicknamed 'the land of song.' You could rightfully nickname Jem the 'girl of song' as she has a very eclectic style of music, drawing from many musical influences and genres. Jem lists her inspirations as a "strange mix of soul, hip hop, reggae, dance music, film soundtracks, classical music and cheesy love songs", from Stevie Wonder to the soundtrack of Braveheart. Some songs are more like rock ballads but others veer into electronica and even hip-hop. Jem has been compared to Imogen Heap, Beth Orton and Dido. She has a mellow, haunting voice that stays with you; it is throaty like Dido's but it's always smooth and never breaks or cracks like Dido's (which some find endearing).
Even though she had been singing and writing songs since the young age of 13, when she reached college age she decided to attend Sussex University to procure a law degree. But while in Brighton her interest in music intensified but it shifted to behind-the-scenes aspects like promotions for clubs and festivals and even club DJing. Jem also helped set-up and run the specialist breaks label Marine Parade.
Keeping up her budding music career and going to college proved to be difficult. She only went to classes often enough to keep herself from being kicked out. In November 1999 she quit, went back to Wales, and set up a mobile recording studio. There she worked on singing, songwriting, and production.
Jem produced some effective demos and this lead to her move to London where she began collaborating with other writers and producers. While working with Guy Sigsworth, acclaimed producer of Björk, the song 'Nothing Fails' was created. Madonna came into the mix and subsequently the song appeared on track 6 of her 'American Life' album.
In 2002 she moved to Brooklyn, New York to work with Ge-Ology (Mos Def, Talib Kweli) and met her future co-producer Yoad Nevo. Nevo helped her fuse all of her influences and refine her unique sound: a dreamy combination of bright melodies, soulful lyrics, and diverse rhythms.
The song 'Finally Woken' got airplay on an LA music station, KCRW. A flood of phone calls came in from pleased fans of the song and she became one of the top five requested artists on the station - and all this before she even had a label.
Bruce Flohr was one of the pleased listeners and hooked her up with Dave Matthews' ATO record label. The EP It All Starts Here was released by ATO in the Fall of 2003 and that was followed-up by her full-length debut CD Finally Woken in March of 2004.
Superstardom hasn't hit her yet but her music is ubiquitous, popping up in a lot of places. Even though you might not have heard her name until now chance are you've heard her music. The single "24" was used in trailers for the 2006 movie Ultraviolet and was featured in NBC's television series Las Vegas. "Come on Closer" was used in trailers for the 2005 movie Closer and "Wish I" was featured as the title music for the UK reality series Celebrity Love Island.
Jem was even featured on a television show, Fox's The O.C., along with her song "Just A Ride" (probably her most well-known song, which is a tribute to Bill Hicks). That song, along with "Maybe I'm Amazed" (a Paul McCartney cover) was featured on the CD soundtrack to the show Music from the OC: Mix 2. "Amazing Life" was featured on a soundtrack as well - HBO's Six Feet Under. The song was also featured in a Lexus commercial in 2006. The single "They" was featured in the pilot episode of ABC's hit medical drama Grey's Anatomy and is mistakenly believed by some to be the show's main title theme (which is actually is a snippet of "Cosy in the Rocket", by British artists Psapp). "Flying High" was also used in an episode later in the series.
Aside from just being in trailers, her music has actually been featured in a few motion pictures; "Just a Ride" is on the soundtrack to 2005's "Monster-in-Law" and 2004's "The Prince and Me".
Jem's second album Down to Earth was released on September 16, 2008.
- Finally Woken (2004)
- Down to Earth (2008)
- "24" (2003)
- "Maybe I'm Amazed" (2004)
- "They" (2005)
- "Just a Ride" (2005)
- "Wish I" (2005)
- "Come on Closer" (TBC)
- "It All Starts Here" (2003)
- Music from the OC: Mix 1 (2004 · Warner Bros./Wea)
- Six Feet Under, Vol. 2: Everything Ends (2005 · Astralwerks / Emd)