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A Lot of More Background about SENA


Jeanette Mühlmann is the name my Parents gave me.

Born, raised and educated in Munich Germany.

One Half-Brother ten years older – same Father, different mother

Parents happily married until my father passed on

Living with parents and grandparents as the only child – already then I was the Minority and made my observations

Father Lawyer, Mother Dancer, Grandfather Inventor and Engineer, Grandmother Singer


Jeanette Mühlmann was  my name as an actress in Europe; I was playing main parts in classical and modern plays on Stages all over Germany, Switzerland and Austria. A founding member of the highly recognized theater group “Magic Flute” I co-directed and acted, and translated all the English and American plays I acted in. I transformed existing stage plays by modernizing the language of old fashioned and sometimes even wrong translations. I inspired authors to re-write roles for me. After the successful theater group split up, after some more stage appearances and tours and after my private life changed drastically, I took refugee in writing.

My writing skills by the way go back to my early childhood where I re-wrote, invented and directed theatre plays for the children in the neighborhood, and the habit of writing stayed with me. Some people socialize, party, take drugs or drink to relax, I go into solitude and write; it’s my way to heal, my way to find out what’s really going on inside of me: serious conversations with my self…  hey! don’t assume that I hate to party or that I never did drugs …I just did all of that at a very early age and “been there done that” it started to bore me …

The Book

An unrequited Love made me start writing poetry, which I had not done since I was eighteen. I was in such a misery that the poems poured out of me, effortless”. I gave these poems to the man for whom I had fallen, who turned out to become my muse: all he said was: “Excellent. You should make a book with  it”. This was not the reaction I was hoping for. It took me a while to listen, and it took 4 more years until the book materialized.

First I started out by reading these very personal poems to complete strangers. The experience was overwhelming: Orderly conventional men loosened their ties and sobbed , I will never forget one banker who laid down on the floor,crying out “if I only would have a woman who talks to me like you”. Some more encouragements from strangers and I gathered with my close friend, the poet and painter Rosana della Porta, for our first spoken word performances, 3 nights in a row. The performance turned into a theatrical event: Stage Builders from the theater world had built an amphitheater inside the “Loft” in Munich, a well known live music and performing arts club. We performed barefoot, walking through the sand filled arena in a long Arab inspired thousand-and-one-night gown. The performance turned into a theater play, with music and special effects. My part had the title: ”Slowly but highly dangerous I open your heart”, which also was the title of my book project. The 3 evenings were sold out, it was clearly a success. Still the publishers we contacted were reluctant to print the book, they thought the project too risqué, too different from what they were used to print:

Meanwhile I  had translated my poetry into English (“one night I had a vision and translated all of them like in a trance”). I had convinced her Italian photographer -who was a head shot photographer for actors- to take a step into a new world: Roberto Ferrantini took the pictures I invented for my poetry.

The reaction of the Professionals? Oh it was a drag! The German publishers told me: “You cannot do 2 genres in one, either make a poetry book or a photo book”, but I knew exactly how I wanted the book to look like and had no interest in compromising my vision, and no pressure in getting it done, I knew, there will come a time when there will appear the right person to help me …”)

The right person turned out to be a Fan in the audience in Switzerland, where I was playing (in my own translation) Maggie in Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a hot Tin Roof” at the Atelier Theater in Bern. Mr … (holy moly I forgot his name) owned a beautiful antique furniture store I sometimes visited and he always hopped outside to talk to me when I came from rehearsal. He just left his customers to their own devices and came outside to chat. This wonderful man introduced me to his friend who was the Owner of a book store, not just any store but the biggest book store in town. This Gentleman loved my book project and introduced me to the Owner of a printing company, the wonderful Urs Schenker, who also was inspired and wanted to help. Only few weeks later I found myself standing in the early mornings at this old manual printing machine, supervising the black & white prints, and the printer and all people in the company loved it, they never before had such an entertaining job.

The Moment the bookbinder had finished his work, the Bookstore Owner plastered ALL his Store front windows with my poetry book, a corner storefront in the main street of Bern with 8 windows …He also happened to own a wonderful performing space with groin vault and wanted me to read my poetry there . I always considered readings boring and  took the opportunity to incorporate a live musician into my project: Landy, a very unconventional guitar player.”

Then I introduced my “Softly but Highly Dangerous” book at the Frankfurt Book Fair and Mr. Miller took me to the Geneva Book Fair where he had a booth. (“ A very interesting crowd bought the book … some of the same publishers who did not want to print it, bought it for their spouses as a present…”)

More music performances and co-incidents:

“The next Musician whom I invited to join was a virtuoso percussion player from Cuba , and he would have been perfect, but the guy got mad crazy during one performance, in the intermission, backstage,  when we were alone and the enineer and guitarplayer were already on stage doing the intro – man! the guy opened his pants and wanted me to do it to him , he obviously misunderstood my friendliness and openness for something else, my high energy had turned him on but frankly, I  was not interested in sex with him, he was the wrong guy at the wrong time and so I told him: “ zip your deedee and put your pants back up and go on stage for heaven’s sake !” That evening I hardly could remember my lines he really threw me off and caught me off gueardand after he had lost his face he didn’t come to rehearsals in time so I fired him 3 days before a huge performance in Munich, with my Posters over town, but  I said to myself: ”so what! let’s do the performance only with guitar, Landy will do all his crazy loops and solo over it and it will work”; then another wonder happened: 2 days before the show, walking out of a coffee shop, the draft made a flyer sail from the postcard shelf down to the floor, right in front of my feet: an announcement for a dance workshop:  two percussion players out of Paris – I had known them for years through studying African Dance with Koffi Koko from Benin – happened to arrive in Munich the night before my performance: Dousty dos Santos (Brazil) and Arsene de Souza (Benin). We took them straight from the train-station to the rehearsal room, worked the whole night and this wild performance was seen by Jake Smith, CEO of Zahmbee Records in Detroit, who one year later invited me to perform in Detroit at the Dalley in the Alley Festival”

After the second performance I also got my first invitation to the Munich poetry slam, and won the very first night I performed.

And it was not even poetry – it was a short story called “What is ssseexxx”

Wassup with the name Sena

– while visiting Arsene in West Africa, who turned out to be an initiated voodoo drummer from an old tribe in Ouidah, Arsenes mother gave me the name Sena. Asking what the true meaning of Sena was, I was told :”bringing Heaven on Earth”

It still took some more twists and turns before Jeanette transformed and merged into Sena

First recordings in New York City

An invitation for a marriage ceremony brought me to New York. I had that secret dream to move to New York since many years, just waiting for the right moment.

I stayed 3 months. Barnes and Noble took my book “Softly but highly dangerous I open your heart ” online.

I was invited to the Nuyorican Poets Café as a guest, and tested the English version of her poems.

Man, in the beginning the people stared at me as if I was from another planet, they were used to  hardcore “gangsta” rap and here I was, reciting deep love poems with my German accent … poets kept in touch with me, remembered my poetry and MC’s invited me all over the place

Back in Munich I wrote the lyrics and rhythms to my first German Rap “Freiwillig”. With the help of musician and composer/arranger Roykey Creo this piece turned into my first recording session.

With the English version of “Freiwillig” in my suitcase I flew again to NYC, and Jake Smith introduced me to the producer/arranger and musician Brian Hardgroove. I decided to record with him “Freiwillig” in English: “There is a reason why we are here” The cooperation went well and I decided to pull out some more lyrics and create songs on the spot: Brian gave me a new professional insight into songwriting, which is a different construction than writing poetry, you need repetitions of hook lines and a chorus and the piece cannot be longer than 5 minutes to get airplay and the words  must be simple … it was not easy for me to write within all these restrictions, my spirit has a problem with rules and regulations …  I am closer to Zappa than to Doris Day…

New Poetry

After creating my first songs I started writing poetry immediately in English and tested them in performances all over NYC, (from the Nuyorican Poets Café in the East Village to the Sugar Shack in Harlem to the Blue Moon in Brooklyn, name them I was there;  I got invitations to festivals in Detroit and the Yale University in New Haven CT (Poetry Slam-Peabody Museum), where I was reading “Tribute to Martin Luther King” – when I finished, the audience was silent, you could’ve heared a needle drop, later some of the poets and an Afro American woman embraced me, saying: “you have courage, we need more people like you”.

After 9/11 I started writing and performing more and more “political” poems, which gave me the idea to print a T-shirt, incorporating lines of my poem ”Peace is active, Peace is a Decision”

Back then in 2001, still traveling in and out of the country as a tourist, I was trying to figure out how to get an artist visa, as an actress or musician pretty much impossible unless having signed a contract with a major company that sponsors you. I wanted a Visa without depending on the goodwill of strangers or so-called sponsors who want you to sign awful contracts where you get trapped and waist your precious time by doing things you do not want to do – I was hearing all these terrible stories on how difficult it was to get a visa …and how long it takes to get the paperwork done, and how expensive it is to get a good lawyer ….and how crocked some people got their visas…some lawyers suggested me to marry an American, but that’s not my personality, marriage for me is a serious commitment and not a joke…,besides, I don’t like prisons and I cannot change my mentality, my roots are in Germany, I watch America through European eyes”

The Fashion

The solution for how to get a  Visa came again from a direction I could not control nor expect:

In NYC I had discovered Mud Cloth, a hand woven and hand printed linen fabric from Mali, Africa. I started to design pants for myself. Wearing these pants, I had this sensational respond, all kind of people ran behind me and wanted the pants, it was hilarious, when finally an old Chinese woman in china town followed me to ask me where she can buy my pants, I suddenly got the message and the solution for getting an American visa: I would start a business in creating fashion… The Polish seamstress I hired introduced me to a Polish pattern maker and soon I had my first fashion show at Madiba in Brooklyn NY. People liked it. At that time I did not even have a store. My collection needed a label. ”I do not even remember who had the idea to give my designs my African name SENA, we all brainstormed and whoever came up with it, it made perfectly sense, I worked with all these African fabrics, with my poetry, my music and my fashion I want to build a bridge between black and white and poor and rich, and yes, the educational and monetary differences are humongous and scary and I want to make a change, I want to create Heaven on Earth, yes, that’s my ultimate goal…”

Fashion shows in Dubai in the Middle East and Kingston Jamaica followed, accompanied by the still unreleased Music, and People started to call me “Sena”

and while creating the CD artwork to finally release the CD, it was clear:

Jeanette is Sena is Jeanette is Sena

Natural High, the Debut Album of Sena.

what it sounds like? Imagine a band with Sly Stone and the Wailers mixing Smooth Jazz, old school reggae and funk with a rock guitar, and a lead singer that sounds like a mixture of Marilyn Monroe, Grace Jones and Sade and Lyrics from a European daughter of Gil Scott Heron … YOU listen, and tell me what it does to you. For me It sounds like a little funk, a little reggae, the German rap is Afro-German- Creo because of the people involved in the music, the English version is influenced by the USA because of Hardgroove,  some tunes sound a little like in the 70ies because that’s my roots, my voice, my lyrics and my melodies give the CD the unity, man, I am influenced by so many different people and places, I was raised in Europe, was living in Jamaica in the hills, was many months in India and Asia, much too short in Africa and now I am in NYC, I listen to all kind of music from all over the planet , I create the lyrics, the melodies and the rhythms. I studied many years belcanto in Munich Germany with Bennie Gillette, an African American opera singer who taught me everything I needed to know in order to start.

My lyrics and melodies come from within, I do not follow trends, but I am definitely inspired by listening to …man… you really want me to name them all ….? Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Miles Davis, Sly Stone, Marilyn Monroe, Eartha Kitt, Gil Scott Heron, I love John Lennon’s lyrics, Bob Marley and the Wailers naturally, Prince , its imposible to even try to name them all, there are so many , Ella, Grace Jones, they are all so different and so amazing, Stevie Wonder, Markus Miller and his fabulous drummer Poogie Bell, who is just incredible, Sade, Indie Arie, Erykah Badu, Laureen Hill, they are all wonderful, the Indian Music, so refined, I had some Indian singing lessons, I LOVE the African drums, without serious African drums my body does not want to move ,  all my love to those countless musicians who build the carpet on which a singer can walk, who are the net in which a singer can fall, the bath of notes in which  I can dive and soak my soul ….

Man, I love them all, they are all so special and there are so many more that need to be heard…

And not to forget the spoken word poets, the last poets, the first hip hop artists and some of the new rappers that are soulful and educate the people, because that’s what needs to be done. Educate the People so they do not fall into the mass manipulation and weapons of mass deception ….

About myself

I was never fully satisfied in singing other people’s songs, as I never was completely satisfied in speaking other poets words, as I was never really comfortable in wearing other peoples designs, give me some time and it will all come together, the spoken word, the music and the fashion, cuz my work is a work in progress, as everybody else’s, that’s all I can say at this point.

All I know is that I am responsible for my daily life, for every step of my well being and my career. Nobody else but me is responsible. And I do have all the time, all my life long the time to create Heaven on Earth. For the benefit of everybody involved. But beware: there is one rule, one simple law: be honest to me and share your thoughts, otherwise I can get very aggressive …

And yes,

Only music can change my mood, only music, baby, and rhythms, ancient rhythms from the cradle of the world