Artist Spotlight: Jeneen Terrana leaves her Buffalo home for the Big Apple

A long way from home


After graduating from Kenmore West Senior High School, Jeneen Terrana could follow her passion for music or for baking. But instead of choosing, she used one to fund the other.

“I don’t think I could ever give up music for baking, even though I love to do it,” Terrana said.

She baked and sold cakes to make money to afford studio time to produce her first album, Just Me.

Terrana is a singer-songwriter with a pop-folk sound who now lives in New York City. She infuses hints of rock and blues throughout her albums, including her latest See the Light. Her sound is a cross between Ingrid Michaelson and Lana Del Ray.

But her success didn’t come straight out of high school.

She decided to spend a year at UB, studying classical music and opera. But she soon realized education wouldn’t further her career the way moving to New York City would.

“I heard a lot of horror stories about New York before I went,” Terrana said. “My parents were worried about me moving there, but I knew I had to if I wanted a chance at making it big.”

It took two years for Terrana to fully adjust to New York City, where her biggest concern was her safety. She had to learn to walk with a purpose and stay safe in the big city, she said. But she was in a city bursting with opportunity, which she used to create her first album. There were a ton of venues, theaters and open mics for her to perform at and dance classes she could take.

She moved thousands of miles from her home and family to pursue a career in an unpredictable field.

Terrana’s music is her method of self-expression, where she discusses her emotions. At first, some of her lyrics were fictional and had nothing to do with her experiences. It wasn’t until she dealt with breakups that she learned tochannel her emotions and the stories in her songs became more realistic.

With a few years of musical experience behind her, Terrana said she’s accomplished more than she would have if she had remained in Buffalo.

The artist has toured Europe with her friend who plays piano, performing at small venues throughout various countries. She’s played in countless listening rooms, always looking for new places to demonstrate her ability and have her sound heard.

But Terrana is still a Buffalo girl. Despite her success in the city and the opportunities the Big Apple has afforded her, she comes back to Buffalo each year to perform and visit her family.

“I come back and play three or four shows in Tonawanda, Cheektowaga and Amherst,” Terrana said. “Buffalo will always be my home – it’s where I grew up and found my love for the music I play now.”

Tori Roseman is the senior arts editor and can be reached at