B I O G R A P H Y
Jean Synodinos (sin-uh-DEE-nus) has spent her life scratching every creative itch that makes itself known.
“A born actress,” said the family after her first performance at age four in a production of “Lysistrata” at Johns Hopkins University. It paved the way for her first creative career as an actress—first in college, then in regional theater, and finally in New York City where, from 1989-1991, she left her comedic mark as Sister Albert Maria, a guitar-wielding singing nun in the Off-Broadway hit Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding.
She appeared at her first West Village open mic as a singer-songwriter in 1993. Three years later, she won the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Competition in Texas and made the move to Austin. With multiple songwriting awards now under her belt, Jean delivers grit, grace, and acoustic soul with a voice that's been hailed by critics as “big league” and "show-stopping." Her lyrics dig deep, moving from large affirmations to little ironies and giving equal footing to pain, kindness, honesty, and love.
Reviews for her fourth album, Love & Blood, have compared it to Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, Joni Mitchell's Blue, and the poetry of Leonard Cohen. Far more than a collection of songs, the album is a love letter to her late ex-husband and collaborator, guitarist Charles Rieser (The Scabs, Ugly Americans), who died in December 2014. This multimedia album is available to all at www.loveandblood.org.
Jean's third album, Girls, Good & Otherwise, received a 2012 Texas Music Award for Artistic Excellence, and her previous releases, Breathe (2006) and Lucky (2003), also received their share of accolades. Third Coast Music wrote, "There's no mistaking that marvelous voice, but if that alone gives her a decided advantage in the massed ranks of Austin's Girls with Guitars, she piles it on by writing songs that are extraordinarily distinctive... she writes poetry that can be sung." From 2013-2020, Jean was immensely proud to volunteer with Jail Guitar Doors and has taught guitar and songwriting to hundreds of incarcerated men and women at the Travis County Correctional Complex.
In 2013, Jean scratched the itch to paint. A self-taught abstract artist, Jean paints primarily with acrylics, inks, copper, and resin. She is wildly interested in the perfect imperfection of curves implied by nature, as well as the lines imposed upon nature by people. Jean also works in concrete and is best known for her hand-cast, one-of-a-kind concrete bowls that are gracefully utilitarian and ruggedly decorative. Her paintings are now in several private collections across the country, and her concrete bowls can be found in over 100 homes in Austin.
Most recently, Jean has turned her attention to fiction. She was the proud 2021 Writers' League of Texas Bess Whitehead Scott Fellow in Creative Writing. Her stories have been published in Everyday Fiction (July 2021), Los Angeles Review (June 2021), The Normal School (December 2020), and Orca: A Literary Journal (Winter 2020). She is currently working on a novel set 25 years in the future in a permanently-flooded New Orleans where urban rat farming is "not exactly legal, but not exactly not." A graduate of Duke University, Jean lives with her partner and their peckish but beautiful "schnusky" in south Austin.