Explore the transformative journey of Jennifer De Leon, known as Jennun, from her small-town roots to the vibrant SXSW stage. 


By Isabel Neumann, Photos by @bellevuepictures

Among the myriad talent that calls Austin home, Jennifer De Leon, known by her stage name Jennun (pronounced “genuine”), has emerged as a rising star with a unique blend of Latin, pop, rap and house music. “My name in itself is a statement and a mantra,” says De Leon. “When I introduce myself, I’m saying I am genuine.” Jennun consists of six members. Lead singer De Leon, drummer Dominic Rodriguez, guitarist Carol Gonzalez, saxophonist Ananto Maitra, bassist Jacob Rodriguez and keyboardist Ryan Dupre.   

Originally hailing from the town of Brenham, Texas, De Leon’s journey to Austin was fueled by a passion for music and a desire for artistic expression. Her early musical experiences were grounded in traditional settings, from college choirs to singing in a Lutheran church. Her first time in a recording studio became the canvas for her creativity, allowing her to break free from the constraints of predefined roles and create music from her own imagination. 


With a background in choir, drama and band, her musical style is a rich tapestry. Her Latin roots, Lady Gaga and Rihanna stand as pillars in shaping her eclectic sound. Embracing rap initially due to its accessibility, she has since evolved into a genre-blending artist, refusing confinement to a single label. “I love to dance, I love upbeat music. So if I can’t dance to a song, it’s not mine,” says De Leon. 

SXSW Bound!

SXSW holds a special place in De Leon’s heart. Having driven from Brenham to Austin solely for the festival during her high school and college years, she now finds herself not just attending but performing. This year marks her official debut as a showcasing artist, an achievement she earned after Edward Castillo of Figure It Out Agency invited her. Of the eight artists performing, Jennun is the only band that features a woman.  

De Leon’s music is more than just a blend of genres; it’s a vehicle for empowerment. Having faced challenges and bullying in her past, she now embraces her unique identity and uses her art to inspire others. Through her stage name, she conveys a powerful message, her authenticity and genuine self-expression. “I have used music as a tool to express my aggression and anger in a healthy way, which has done a lot for me personally,” she says. “I get to sing my own words that I stand by, and there’s nothing more powerful than using your voice.” 

The upcoming showcase at SXSW will be the first time De Leon takes the stage with no soundtracks, showcasing her growth as an artist.  As the band prepares for its performance, De Leon reflects on her journey, aspirations and the impact she hopes to have. Her music speaks to the common person, offering a cathartic outlet for emotions. Regardless of background or insecurities, De Leon encourages everyone to embrace their worth and pursue their dreams. “I get to use the things people used against me as ways to empower and create myself as an artist.” 

Jennun will be performing at SXSW on March 15 starting at 7:40 p.m. at Palm Door.  

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