|American singer-songwriter Jenn Bostic has been building a fanbase and a lot of critical acclaim since the release of her first single Jealous of the Angels at the end of 2012.
The track garnered support from BBC Breakfast, Smooth Radio and Radio 2 and now Jenn is releasing the follow-up Not Yet, and her debut album Jealous. She will also be in the UK from next week for a live tour.
We caught up with Jenn to talk about her success, find out more about her musical beginnings and discuss the impact Jealous of the Angels has had on her career.
Hi Jenn, welcome back to the UK! How are you?
I’m am doing great, thank you! I feel incredibly grateful for all the support the music has been receiving over the past six months, and am anxious to see what 2013 holds.
Can you tell us about how you started your journey with music? Where did it all begin for you?
I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. I come from a musical family and my fondest childhood memories are those around a piano or guitar. After losing my dad in a car accident at age ten, music seemed to be the only way I could still connect to him. Songwriting became a form of therapy, and the only way I could truly express myself. My mom is so supportive and has sacrificed so much for my brother and I to be able to follow our dreams of pursuing music. I always remember her telling me that there were so many things my dad wanted to do when he retired but never got the chance to do.
I threw myself into every musical, choir, theatre and dance program I could and fell in love with every aspect of it, however it was the passion I had for my competitive high school showchoir that led me to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
I had the opportunity to study music education at Berklee, while performing in many of the school’s big shows, and singing in a cover band on the weekends. A few college guided spring break trips to Nashville helped me fall in love with the city I now call home. The first few years down here were tough. I was developing my songwriting skills, recording my first record “Keep Lookin’ For Love,” and meeting as many people as I could. It wasn’t until a few doors were slammed in my face that my lyrics became deeper and my songs started naturally steering themselves into a more Adult Contemporary pop direction.
Over the past year it has been amazing to see my song, “Jealous of the Angels,” which is a tribute song written for my father, embraced by so many people. I have received so many emails from those who have lost loved ones and managed to find comfort and healing through it. I feel so blessed to not only honor my dad with this song, but also to have the opportunity to help others with it.
At what point did you think ‘this is how I want to make my living, through music’?
After my dad passed away I couldn’t see myself pursuing any other career. My mom was so encouraging, constantly telling me I could be “Anything I want to be.”
As someone who has also lost a parent, do you now feel that you make the most of each day/week?
I do my best to make the most of each day. I try to make sure the people around me know how much I care about them and how appreciated they are. I have a long list of dreams that I’d like to see come to fruition in this life and I believe with hard work, faith and determination you can do anything.
When we read about Madonna losing her mother at an early age, she said that she felt fearless and that nothing would get in her way of her musical ambitions and that she channelled all of her energy into her loves – thus being her music and dance. By doing so, she was able to move forward and to stay focused on something positive in her life, whilst her peers perhaps lacked that drive and determination to succeed. Is this something that you feel, too?
I absolutely try to channel all of my energy into the things I love, performing and writing music. I think there is an element of drive that I would not have had if I hadn’t gone through the loss of my dad. I constantly find myself hoping he is proud of me, and wondering what advice he would give me today. I have been blessed with some amazingly talented and driven friends who also often push me to strive for more.
Do you feel that with your father’s passing, you are able to connect with people at a more emotional level, as this is an experience that you have gone through and you are able to best express this through music?
I believe that “Jealous of the Angels” is my testimony. I think that I can relate and connect with people who have gone through loss and truly empathize with them. It continues to overwhelm me when I think about the fact that the worst day of my life brought forth a song that has helped to comfort people around the world.
How did you feel when you won the five 2012 Independent Country Music Association Awards, including Overall Winner, Best Female Country Artist, Best Musician, Best Songwriter and Country Music Song of the Year for Jealous of the Angels?
Completely humbled. I am so honoured to have received those awards. I am grateful to all the fans who voted, and for the support shown from the organization.
How do you feel about the impact that the song Jealous of the Angels has caused and how it brought you to the attention of the music world?
Blessed. When I wrote the song, I had no idea that it would resonate with people the way it has. It was such a personal topic that I had thought it would be more of a song of therapy for myself than anything. It has been absolutely incredible to see how God is moving through the song and how people are being healed through music. I’m thrilled to be able to honour my dad with this song.
Who are your musical idols? Who gives you goose bumps when you hear their song on the radio?
I absolutely love Bonnie Raitt! She is my all time favourite and I had the opportunity to see her live at the Ryman Auditorium just one month before I sang on that same stage. It was a dream come true! I love hearing Sara Bareilles and Ed Sheeran on the radio as well, those two are amazing!
How does it now feel to now have girls looking up to you as an artist?
It is so humbling. I have received a bunch of letters from teenage girls about how my songs have helped them process through things in their own life and how they feel encouraged by the lyrics and my heart couldn’t be happier. I understand that this is a responsibility as well and strive to set a good example for today’s youth.
Having previously supported Christian Kane on tour in the UK, that must have given you some great experience of performing in front of the European crowd. What was it like touring with him?
The UK tour with Christian Kane was unforgettable! He was such an encouraging artist, and he has amazing fans that embraced me with open arms! I cannot wait to go back in February and hopefully someday I’ll have the opportunity to tour with Christian again in the future.
Do the crowds differ much here, in comparison to the crowds back home?
I think that depends on the venue and the audience on a particular night. I am so grateful for listeners all over the world, I have some amazing support in the US, however it seems that people in the UK are connecting with the music on a larger scale.
What can we expect from your own forthcoming tour?
I am so excited to be heading across the pond again! I will be playing songs off the “Jealous” album, as well as a few brand new ones! My brother, Jeff Bostic, will be touring with me as well playing bass guitar and singing background vocals!
Tell us who you would like to collaborate with on future projects?
I would love to collaborate with Bonnie Raitt if the opportunity ever presented itself! As I’ve mentioned she’s my favourite. However, it would also be a dream to work with Ed Sheeran, Sara Bareilles, Missy Higgins, Sarah McLachlan or Marc Broussard.
What are you hoping to achieve this year?
I pray that this year people will continue to be comforted, encouraged and inspired my the music both new and already released. I hope to spread the songs to an even larger group of people, and to play shows in new parts of the world. I am anxious to see what 2013 holds!
Jenn’s new album Jealous is released on March 25th and her new single Not Yet follows on April 1st. She will be touring the UK from 19th February.