By Ward Hughey
A few years ago I was working as a volunteer with a non-profit in St. Augustine called The Foundry. Through a relationship between The Foundry and Jacksonville’s Murray Hill Theater I was introduced to the young and soulful singer-songwriter Pamela Affronti. Since then Pamela released an EP, got married, finished school and began a career as a nationally certified sign language interpreter. Over the last several months I have also noticed that she has her hands in multiple projects within the Jacksonville music community. I decided it was time to catch up and learn what all Pamela Bernkrant, known as Pamela Elaine by her fans, has been up to.
Pamela started playing guitar in middle school. She credits her musician father as having a role in this. What began as making up songs that she performed for her sister and learning Green Day covers turned into more as she started writing about anxiety, depression and her faith. Like most musicians as she grew she started playing out. With the support of venues like Murray Hill Theater she began honing her skills. Over the years she has not only become a talented musician, but an important part of the local scene.
While feeding her desire to learn more in music Pamela has had her share of obstacles. Obstacles that she says include “facing the frustration of being a female musician in a sea of men.” With a determination to not be held back she decided not only would she find resources to grow, but she would share these with others. Pamela teamed up with friend Morgan Burden to create Songbook Jax, a network of female songwriters working together to grow and expand as artists. They do this by hosting Nashville Round style showcases of diverse female songwriters. Along with showcases they have dinners and workshops teaching the ins and outs of promotion, developing ones art and much more. All of this is done while creating a supportive community of female artists. In this they are erasing what Pamela says is “the biggest lie told to women in music that they have to be against each other.” She may be too humble to say it, but this is one example of how I believe she is a leader in Jacksonville, FL.
Another project Pamela is involved in is helping musicians develop their fanbase in Jacksonville. While both she and her husband Joel are musicians they are also true fans of music. They began to notice how hard it can be for local and out of town musicians to grow a following. They decided to help by hosting artists in their home. As they saw this become a positive experience they learned of others doing the same. So they joined forces and created the Bold City Circuit. “We just want to create community and love others through house shows. We think it’s the best way to experience music in all honesty,” Pamela says, as she explains these events are an intimate music experience away from the loud bar scene. “Sometimes it’s nice to strip it all down” for what she describes as “very much a listening room style.”
With all this work in local community and having a full time job one may find it hard to create their own art, but Pamela has. During a time while her husband was away for work and she was between job commitments she found herself with a bit of free time on her hands. What came out of this was a collection of songs. This past December she released the single “Carry This” which is a very honest and personal song about working through feelings of “the inadequacy of not doing enough” in art and other aspects of life. Another single is the upbeat “Flinch” about how we all risk becoming desensitized by the constant influx of bad news in our world. These along with other tracks make up her upcoming EP “As You Go” which is planned for release this April.
I encourage everyone to look up and follow Pamela Elaine on all the usual streaming sites as well as Facebook, Instagram and www.pamelaelaine.com. You do not want to miss her release show for the upcoming EP. You can also find out more about Songbook Jax and Bold City Circuit through a quick search online. I for one will continue to keep my eyes and ears tuned in to what the future holds for this amazing artist and humble community leader.