Country Music’s New Star: Jessica Lynn
Country Music’s new star and the New York girl being hailed as Shania’s successor, Jessica Lynn is on the way to becoming a household name this year. In 2014 / 2015, singer/songwriter Jessica has seen her first two full length television specials, “This Much Fun – Live from the Winery at St. George,” and “Jessica Lynn – Takin’ Over – Live from The Paramount Theater” go nationwide on PBS, sang the National Anthem twice in New York’s famed Madison Square Garden by special invite, signed a major publishing deal with Round Hill Music that has her in Nashville writing with today’s top hit writers, and wrapped up two national summer tours which had her performing at some of the country’s largest music festivals alongside Country Music icons such as Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, The Band Perry, Thompson Square, Sammy Kershaw, Clint Black, Montgomery Gentry, and Phil Vassar. She is now in the studio finishing her first studio EP and just released her first official music video and single “Not Your Woman.”
You’ve been labelled as Shania’s successor. What are your thoughts on that?
I grew up as a huge Shania Twain fan, so to me that is the ultimate compliment. When people started saying that, it really blew my mind and made me feel very thankful. She was always an artist I inspired to be like. Her show was always larger than life, she always had so much energy and her songs and personality were always so relatable to me. It has been a cool journey so far.
You’ve accomplished so much so far – including your TV specials and opening for some huge names in music. What is the best part of it all?
I think the best part of everything we have managed to accomplish so far, though it sounds really cheesy and cliche, is to be able to really impact people and touch people through music. I have had people come up to me after concerts and say they had the worst week ever and just smiling and dancing along just totally took them out of that bad place. Or, people that really felt a deep connection with one of my more emotional songs and songwriting. It is amazing to see the power of music and how much it can do for people. I think that is one of the reasons I love it so much.
You’re working on your first studio EP. What have been the biggest challenges you have faced approaching it?
I think the biggest challenge so far has been time. Being that I am an independent artist, we have a very small team that works around the clock to accomplish everything we do, from bookings to recording, to PR, graphics, social media outlets. I think it has been really difficult to balance touring and all that stuff. It just takes up so much time and it is constantly “go-go-go” and you want to get better, move forward and progress and it is hard finding time for everything. The other challenge has been to stay true to myself while also trying to fit into country radio. Country music has changed so much within the last few years. I am a traditional country fan , a cross over artist, but country today is not country as a lot of us know it. It has been difficult to stay true to country, my roots and be modern.
How do you feel the reaction has been to your first official music video and single “Not Your Woman” ?
I have been so excited about the reaction. It has really been amazing. We worked so hard on it and I was really proud of the product we were putting out. There was six full says of filming and months of planning before that. It was a lot of work. I didn’t realize it would be welcomed with such open arms. It has been really cool to read all the different write-ups about it and all the comparisons to Shania Twain, as you mentioned. It has been a dream come true for me through all the blood, sweat and tears. Both the music as the songwriter, the artist singing it and a production standpoint on the video itself.
When you look back on the creation process for the EP what immediate thoughts come to mind?
I think it is just special knowing I wrote every song that is cut on the EP: music, lyric, arrangements, everything. We have been touring a lot and playing the songs a lot and it is totally different hearing them come together. In the studio there’s different parts in there that we don’t necessarily re-create live and it brings a whole other dimension to the music. It is exciting to see the whole other aspect to the song.
How important is it to you that people realize that you are that involved and there isn’t just someone coming in and handing you a song?
I think there is a difference when an artist sings a song that really means something to them. My televisions special and first live album I put out are the story of my life, they are things that really happened to me, things that are important to me that I really feel. I think it gives people a different appreciation when they listen to it, knowing it is something that really, truly comes from your heart. I think they can relate to you better in that way too, knowing that it is something that you really felt.
What is the hardest part of creating music?
I would say the hardest part can be self doubt. It is hard to take a step back sometimes and not be the writer, not be the singer, to listen to it for what it is and ask if it is really the best I can do. Not everyone will like what you do and everyone is going to have an opinion about it. I think that is something that can be crippling to some artists sometimes, to worry too much about what other people think and not just going with your gut.
What expectations do you have for yourself when you’re creating music?
I set very high expectations. I am a Type-A personality, very driven to a fault at times. I am very hard working and I am a go big or go home. If you’re not going to do it 110%, then don’t do it at all. I work endless hours in the office here and the studio, trying to make everything the best it can be. The music business today is so competitive. If you can’t bring the highest level of quality in everything you do, it is sad, but then you just don’t stand a chance these days. It is not like it used to be. I am a big believer in being proud of everything you put out and I work my hardest to try and try to live up to the high standards I set for myself.
Can you talk a bit about the artistic growth you feel you experienced in the last year?
I think it has been interesting for me in that I am growing up with my music. We have some songs in my set I wrote when I was sixteen. At that time I wasn’t playing country music and it just sat in my book for a long time. It is interesting to see, even just as a person, my emotional growth that has been showcased through the progression of my writing. Cord progressions get more complicated and you just look, or you just look at music a different way sometimes. It is interesting to see. When you listen to my music, you listen to my diary. Taking a step outside, it is interesting to see how the sound has changed, how the instrumentation has changed, how my outlook on life and different parts of it have changed too.
What makes a good song?
I think that is different for everybody. I know when my lead guitarist, Steve, listens to a song, he thinks it is a great song if it has some great lead guitar in it. For me, as a songwriter, I want music to mean something to me. I want it to make me feel something. I am a big lyrics and melody person. Some songs, when you listen to them, they just immediately touch your heart and they do something to you. Music was meant to touch you and mean something special, so that is what I look for in a song.
At this point, what do you value most about your experience in music?
Something that I value the most so far about this experience has been the fact that I have learned that hard work really does pay off. I am a regular girl from New York, which is unusual in the first place to make any sort of dent in country music. It really showed me that when you have a dream, you work for it and you work hard, that you really can do whatever you set out to be. I don’t know if I ever truly believed that until I started having success. Then, you think of all those hours and all those tears you put in and I value learning that about life. On the other hand, I value that I have been able to share this incredible experience with the people that mean the most to me. It is different trying to explain an exciting experience or something that happened on the road, or a sunset you saw driving through Oaklahoma, but I am very lucky. My bass player is my Dad, my background singer is my Mom, the lead guitarist is my fiancé and the band is literally my best friends in the whole world. To get to share this with them is something that I value and know a lot of musicians don’t get to have that same experience. That is something that is really special to me about what we have done so far.
What are you looking forward to most this year?
I am really looking forward to releasing the EP. I have gone the television route so far. The two television specials went nation-wide, which is super exciting, but as a recording artist, to have a studio EP or album, that is what it is all about. I’m excited to have my song hit radio this year and for the video to continue growing. I am also really excited to tour internationally for the first time this spring. I am nervous about it. I have never been to Europe, even just as a tourist. I am excited to see the challenges and exciting things that brings.
Who was the last person, or what was the last thing, to really inspire you?
I would say say that the most recent thing was my parents sent my fiancé and I, for Christmas, to go see the musical Beautiful, the Carole King musical on Broadway. It documented her story from being a young girl, trying to break into the business and the heartbreak that comes with it, the success, the failures. It really hit home for me and made me think of my own life, my path, all the ups and downs I have had so far. We all know who Carole King is and that she made it, but it was really inspiring. It made me want to go home and write a million songs.
Any final thoughts?
I am excited for the things to come. I have an incredible fanbase online and those that come to my concerts. I am just so thankful. There is this meme that has been going around for a while and it says something like “You know your favorite band because someone once gave them a chance and listened to them”. It is true. If it wasn’t for the people who believe in you and give you a shot, try to push you and help you and listen to your songs, that is such a big part of success. I would like to say thank you to everyone that has been with me from the very beginning.
Find out more about Jessica Lynn at http://www.jessicalynnmusic.org.
+ Debbie Fettback