Jennifer Shieh admits she's a people person. Her day job as an independent financial analyst and consultant allows her to work closely with people to help plan their futures. But the Ventnor resident's life is certainly not all about stocks and bonds; it's also about chords and charts. Her first love is music, mostly because she loves performing in front of crowds.
Born in Taiwan, Shieh was classically trained in piano since 3 years old, influenced by her mother, Rita, a retired New York fashion designer who was also a musician. Shieh, who also sings and plays violin, moved to the United States with her family when she was 8. By 12, Shieh was performing in acclaimed summer music programs, eventually studying music - among other majors - in college.
But even before that, music was in her blood. Her first big job was as a keyboardist and singer at the once-acclaimed Le Palais restaurant at Resorts International ... at age 16.
She eventually became a full-time entertainer, working small showrooms and lounges, including a 10-year stint at Showboat Casino Hotel, where she served as the casino's in-house entertainer.
Shieh continues to be a lounge lizard, performing regularly at casinos, mostly offering fun '70s and '80s retro dance tunes while occasionally blowing patrons' minds by ripping into some classical riffs.
The musician, who also makes "bling" Swarovski-crystal accessories named Crystal Creations by Jen, also likes to give back to the community, often donating her skills for charity functions.
"The most rewarding thing to me right now is to give back and pass on my knowledge as a musician and artist," said Shieh, who also teaches piano at Music Central in Egg Harbor Township. "When people see me perform, their faces light up and they are genuinely happy."
Some St. Augustine Prep charity projects see students sending aid abroad and raising awareness about global issues. Smithville's Alex Piratzky saw need closer to home. The 17-year-old donated 1,637 books, 130 school supply-stuffed sport bags and $750 to Wildwood's Lunch with Lynch Program for his Caritas Project. Piratzy collected donations over the summer. Lunch with Lynch benefits Wildwood's Glenwood Avenue Elementary School. ... Cape May's Kimmy Leathers placed first among women at the recent Cape May Beachfront Run with a time of 33:31. Megan O'Leary, also of Cape May, finished second with a time of 38:08. The Beachfront Run spanned Beach Avenue and was sponsored by local businesses and organizations.
Everyone Has a Story appears Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. To share your story, call Scott Cronick at 609-272-7017 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.