Janet Hammer has had a life full of music. Her very first vocal performance was at Knott's Berry Farm at the age of 5. It consisted of her exclaiming to the man with the hand organ and the monkey that she knew the song he was playing. She then proceeded to jump on stage and give a spontaneous performance of "You are My Sunshine." Music was clearly in her blood!
She grew up in a musical household. Many evenings she sat at the piano with her mother, singing the great jazz standards, the ones her mother dearly loved. From these evenings Janet learned much of the repertoire she sings today.
During her teen years, wonderful female singers like Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and Phoebe Snow, influenced her music. Other influences were the jazz vocal groups, Manhattan Transfer, Singers Unlimited, and Rare Silk. Under the encouragement of her high school music director, Bud Roberds, she started arranging vocal music. Several of her arrangements were performed. She studied piano as well as voice throughout those years.
At the first opportunity to travel and perform, she joined the Continental Singers, missing her high school commencement. For three months they traveled throughout the United States, Scandinavia and Russia. She had the performing bug and joined the group again the following summer for another three months. This time they traveled throughout South America and Barbados, performing almost nightly.
Soon after, she received an Associate of Arts degree in music from Palomar Community College, then a Bachelors Degree and secondary teaching credential from San Diego State University. During this period, she sang professionally with several small groups and big bands. She still performs with a number of the same people today.
Janet has been singing with the a cappella Renaissance group called Pacific Camerata for nearly 25 years under the direction of Dan Ratelle. Just after college, she also joined the San Diego Master Chorale for eight years, displaying an array of ability and interests.
Due to her versatile voice and adept sight reading ability, she has been hired to sing radio jingles, premieres for musicals, and songs used for children's educational materials. She has performed in five musical productions, acting as well as singing. She has opened for The Pointer Sisters, The Drifters, The Platters, and Johnny Cash and has worked with musicians from groups such as, The Righteous Brothers, Little Anthony, Maynard Ferguson, Natalie Cole, The Cheiftans, and The Guess Who.
Her love of performance led her to start a caroling group, "The Full Measure Carolers". This group started as an a cappella quartet dressed in the traditional Charles Dickens style. Eighteen years later it consists of over a dozen quartets, including a hand-bell quartet, a children's performing group called "The Little Dickens", and "The Rockin' Cranberries". During the holiday season, Janet books the "Full Measure Carolers" an average of 250 performances. She is affectionately known as the "Caroling Chieftess" of Southern California.
Music has always been a source of spiritual enrichment and healing for Janet. She has always been inspired to sing where the music can touch people on a deeper level. Janet has sung at many different churches, eventually leading her to singing at The Unity Center of San Diego. In 1998 she became the choir director of a 75-voice choir there and in October, 2001 she became the music director, leading two services every Sunday morning as well as many special services. She feels blessed to have so many expressions of spirit and music in her life.
From 2000 to 2004, Janet had the pleasure of directing a youth choir in the National City School District. This was a "before school program" for fourth through sixth graders. She, along with her accompanist, Bruce Worthy, changed this choir into a show choir using dialog and choreography.
Janet found that she really enjoyed teaching and with her patient and energetic personality seemed to have a natural aptitude for it. She soon began teaching private vocal lessons for children and adults out of her home studio and at the Scripps Performing Arts Centre. In 2004 she began teaching several vocal classes and private students at Palomar College. Ironically, the very first class she taught, Popular Vocal Techniques, was the very first class she attended when she was a student there. In the Fall of 2006 she started the Vocal Jazz Ensemble called Spectrum Singers. A performing group of this genre has not been in existence at Palomar College for many years.
In 2006, Janet was asked to start a youth choir at the Braille Institute of which she happily said yes. She has since enjoyed teaching these extraordinary kids, ages 13 to 20, the joys of singing together in an ensemble. As with all her teaching experiences, she finds that her learning never ceases.
Janet's love of performance has never wavered. Her abilities, enthusiasm, and professionalism have led her to become one of San Diego’s busiest singers. As well as leading several bands and ensembles of her own in clubs and private events, she has played with many local bands. Some of the many bands she has performed with (and still do) are The Ira Liss Big Band Jazz Machine, The Players, The Heroes, Nova, Coco Beach, Mirage, Left for Dead, Coronado Big Band, Chicago 6, Blue Rocket, Kicks, Legacy Big Band, Swing Shift, Pacific Brass & Electric, Ultratones, Studio 848, Jezaz, Common Ground, and Emergency Exit.
Recordings of Janet include "The Full Measure Carolers", a wonderful CD collection of carols sung a cappella, in styles ranging from classic to modern. Her first holiday CD, "Holiday Potpourri", recorded with her musical partner, accompanist, and arranger of many years, Gregg Akkerman, includes carolers, hand-bells, instrumentals, and vocal solos in many styles. Gregg and Janet also recorded a CD entitled "From the Soul", which features inspirational songs. Janet is heard as a lead vocalist on the CD called "Life Stories". This CD is an original jazz project of guitarist/songwriter, Jim Storey, and features 4 vocalists. Janet's jazz CD, "Never Let Me Go", is a collection of her most loved jazz standards and features some of the finest musicians in Southern California. This CD is a wonderful collaboration, with Janet's smooth, full-bodied vocals, Gregg Akkerman's arrangements and piano work, Chris Conner on bass, Tim McMahon on drums, Tripp Sprague on sax and flute, and Peter Sprague on guitar. Her most recent recording project with the The Unity Center's musicians is called "One God, Many Voices". It is designed to encourage, inspire, and uplift the spirit. Janet wears the caps of vocalist, director, and executive producer.