Jennifer Ackerman had to go to New York.

The 28-year-old song stylist and actress had done what she could in Portland, where she lived for four years in the late '90s. 'I was always singing in something,' she says. 'I thought to myself, 'Here I am consistently working in Portland. I've sort of done what there is to do here.' '

Now, after nearly three years in the Big Apple, she's back to perform in two shows at Wilf's Restaurant and Piano Bar.

'This is bringing some of my life in New York back home to Portland,' she says. 'My adventures there and how it comes out for me.'

She'll employ the cabaret style that she's honed in New York at Don't Tell Mama's and off-off-Broadway. The Portland shows will feature the work of contemporary composers as well as older standards. 'Some people will know every song on the list,' she says.

'It's the only venue in performing when you are in complete control,' she says of the cabaret setting. 'I'm a little bit of a control freak.'

Despite struggling alongside other artists in New York, Ackerman is feeling at home there.

'I love it,' she says. 'I'm still finding myself. You just keep going until you find the whole package that you want.'

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