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Interview | Jo Cleary

The 100 Day Challenge. We’ve seen versions of this before on blogs and across social media. The difference with Jo Cleary’s version: she’s a force of nature.

Her mission is to learn and play a new song on her violin every day for a hundred days. Here’s an atypical day (hopefully): Wake up at 4:00am. Fly from Nashville to Detroit. Photoshoot all day. Dinner. Fly back to Nashville. And during the few remaining hours before midnight…learn and perform a new song on violin. Post results on Instagram. A force of nature.

Which brings us to why Jo is the perfect actor, singer, songwriter, and musician to play the part of The Lead Crank in Null Paradox. And yes, this character has a name but that secret is only known to her trusted advisors, of which there’s only a few.

The Lead Crank is in the midst of fighting the revolution between The Ministry and The Cranks. While we learned in the first Null Paradox book (Gertrude & Grace) that The Cranks are led by #E and #F (yes, in the book Gertrude & Grace, we name their names.) they both recognize that they’ve been fighting the war for a long time and they need some help. Which is why they recruited The Lead Crank.

She’s a force of nature.

And the character is also a little crazy. You’d have to be to lead a rebellion. Benjamin Franklin’s quote “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately,” is something that resonates with The Lead Crank.

In retrospect, this won’t be a surprise: we were introduced to Jo by Zach Ferrin (The Bully).  They’re part of the team in Nashville that is Fable Cry.  He highly endorsed Jo and it quickly became obvious that Jo and The Lead Crank have some things in common. Plus, there’s her whole actor/singer/songwriter/musician thing. Oh, and she’s a force of nature.

If you’re a little confused where Jo morphs into The Lead Crank? Then you’re on the right track.

We’re fortunate to have met Jo. Please welcome her to the role of The Lead Crank!

Interview with Jo Cleary

The Lead Crank Jo Cleary Concept & photography~Tom Libertiny Costume~AJ Martina Key HMUA~Charlee HM Assistant hair and makeup~Tracy Noe, Lexi Barrow, Michelle Stojkovski

The Lead Crank
Jo Cleary
Concept & photography~Tom Libertiny
Costume~AJ Martina
Key HMUA~Charlee HM
Assistant hair and makeup~Tracy Noe, Lexi Barrow, Michelle Stojkovski

Question~What personality traits would you say you share with The Lead Crank?

Jo~

I found myself reading the character synopsis for The Lead Crank and became uncomfortably self-aware. The Lead Crank is unable to understand someone who is unable to commit to something with their whole selves. She is stubborn and passionate. When these two sides coexist in harmony, she excels beyond expectations. When she’s off-balance, the results can be terrifying. When I decide I am going to do something, nothing tears my focus. Oftentimes to a degree which others may find strange or extreme. While I recognize my stubbornness as a weakness at times, I also see it as my greatest strength.

The Lead Crank Jo Cleary Concept & photography~Tom Libertiny Costume~AJ Martina Key HMUA~Charlee HM Assistant hair and makeup~Tracy Noe, Lexi Barrow, Michelle Stojkovski

The Lead Crank
Jo Cleary
Concept & photography~Tom Libertiny
Costume~AJ Martina
Key HMUA~Charlee HM
Assistant hair and makeup~Tracy Noe, Lexi Barrow, Michelle Stojkovski

Is there a particular style of singing and music that you’re drawn to?

Jo~

Growing up in musical theater, I developed a deep respect for vocal control and the theatrics required of a good performer. While attending Berklee College of Music I fell in love with traditional old-time jazz. I started a collection of vinyl from Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, and Fats Waller. There is a regal yet subtle power to these recordings. These performers knew the purpose of music in a turbulent time. It gave me the motivation to see if my voice could take people to a new place as they had done.

With your background in live music performance, movies, and live acting; do you have a preference?

Jo~

My performance career started at age 10 with stage acting. While I embrace all avenues of performance, live music performance is where I feel at my prime. I’ve truly found myself over the past few years touring with different bands throughout the country singing and playing the violin.

Is there a character and musical that grabbed your attention when you first saw the production?

Jo~

When I was in my teens, I saw a production of Pippin. The plot revolves around the adolescent Pippin trying to find his purpose in life. The character, Leading Player, maliciously leads Pippin into less than ideal situations under the guise of being a playful leader. The audience slowly realizes what the charismatic Leading Player is truly leading Pippin towards, and it isn’t pleasant. With his thespian troupe of riff raffs, Leading Player sees how far he can push the young boy with circus acts and high energy performances. A few years later I was cast as Leading Player in a production of Pippin. The role remains one of my absolute favorites.

Question~Where did you train for voice and violin?

Jo~

I completed my B.M. Professional Music Degree at Berklee College of Music. I spent two years studying voice and two years studying violin. With both instruments, I was lucky enough to study with teachers specializing in pop, classical, jazz, bluegrass and musical theater.

 

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