Jane McNealy began playing the piano at the age of three, and was regarded as a musical prodigy before starting her professional career in the 1960s. Exposed to a variety of musical styles from a young age, McNealy established herself as a writer and composer who was able to combine the sensibilities of different movements into cohesive genre-bending fusions of jazz, soul, classical and pop arrangements. She hit her creative stride in 1970s Los
Angeles, drawing from a host of musical kinships with forerunners of the
local and national scene. This affinity for creative alliance is epitomized in her
apprenticeship with Harold Battiste, who found himself “most impressed with her melodic and harmonic sensibilities,” and her ability to write “tunes [that] could morph into jazz or standards.”
With Battiste’s support, McNealy developed a successful career as a songwriter, publishing and recording over 300 songs in the span of five years. Many singers have recorded or performed McNealy’s songs, including Sarah Vaughan, Joyce Dunn, Petula Clark, Tami Lynn, Lydia Marcelle, Mel Carter. McNealy continued to work with Battiste after he and AFO moved back to New Orleans, as well as carving a new path in the fields of writing her own film scores and composing musicals with the playwright Alice Kuhns. While McNealy continues to collaborate with Kuhns, she has recently turned her focus towards releasing archival and contemporary work on the Lo-Flo Records label, which she launched in 2020.