About 8 weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Jessie Key and doing a really fun, music and writing-inspired shoot in one of my favorite places, the 12 South District of Nashville.
It’s obvious that this girl is gorgeous, but when the inside matches the outside, it’s a really beautiful thing. This girl has it all. Talent, an incredible voice, a humble heart, a passion for laughter, and a heart for Jesus. Oh… and have I mentioned? Curls. for. dayyyyyyyys. I felt an instant kinship to her and her easy-going spirit. We had the best time, shared some laughs, fun conversation over our almond milk lattes, and she even played her banjo for me. I didn’t want that part to end!
1.) A little intro about you.
Alright! I’m from a beautiful town called Glendale, which is about an hour south of Louisville, Kentucky. It’s one of those towns that literally begins with a railroad track and ends with a white church. It has about 1,000 people, half as many antique shops, two restaurants (if you don’t count McDonald’s) and a man that gives carriage rides. More than that, however, I technically hail from a farm within that small town, and that’s a big reason that I do this. It’s my favorite place to go sing, and I used to bring my guitar down to the river and try to write until the mosquitoes would inevitably drive me away.
2.) What or who has your biggest inspiration been when writing songs?
It’s very rare that I’m able to sit down and think “I’m going to write a song today.” It’s usually a kind of pressure or rock that builds up in my chest, like I can feel something manifesting inside of me. And as crazy as it sounds, I pray for inspiration, and most of the time I end up getting one idea or melody or lyric line and sprint to record it or write it down. Then I spend the next hour or day or week or month building around that nugget of inspiration to write a song that I can only hope does it justice.
My more direct inspirations are life events and stories. You would listen to these songs and think that all of these things happened directly to me and in a deep and painful way, but usually they’re started by a smaller event or even something that I witnessed and took to heart and accidentally internally explored. I also, however, adore the genius of musicians like Ray Charles, John Prine, Etta James, and Brandi Carlile. I have a hard time narrowing it down because so much makes my heart burst when I hear it, although it may only be for a short period of time. By the time I get this email back to you I’ll have gone off and back onto about 5 different artists that I should have sent but couldn’t think of!
3.) Favorite place to travel and why?
This may sound almost lame, but I’ve been to Italy and Puerto Rico and Ecuador and multiple other places, but if I could go anywhere today it would be the river behind the house I grew up in. Something about it is magical, and I can be so involved. Meaning I can’t properly explore the Coliseum or the ruins of Quito, but I can swim in the river and climb on every log and yodel at the top of my lungs or just sit on the banks and listen to music with my dog. That’s somewhere where I can be as wild or lame as I want to be and nobody will tell me “you shouldn’t climb on that.” 😉
4.) Favorite things to do when you’re not working on music?
When I’m not working on music I try to be as mentally present as possible- meaning it makes me nervous to do things like watch television to fill my time. I want to experience as much as possible while I’m alive. That doesn’t mean I have to spend my time climbing Kilimanjaro, but it does mean that I love to read books and paint (clumsily) and go running with or without my dog, Rosalita. Although I may or may not be technically working, I’m always singing. I also rarely miss an opportunity to go Square Dancing.
5.) Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
In the end, in the next five years I see myself staying in Nashville, singing songs that I can pour my soul into, and writing music that I can believe in. There’s no way to know absolutely where that will take me, I just need it to be a place where I can do those two last things and spend plenty of time with God to keep myself whole and centered.
I’ve been unbelievably blessed to be able to hook up with the people that I have so far in Nashville. They say when God wants something to happen it does almost in spite of you. I want to take what’s coming my way and handle and navigate it to the best of my abilities. That’s why I love music so much. It’s one place where I can give absolutely all of me with no time restrictions or bars held (besides avoiding my neighbor stomping at me to quit playing the banjo, of course).
You can follow Jessie on her Facebook page to find out where and when she’s playing and singing in Nashville. I cannot wait to catch a show this summer.
I think one of the best parts about getting to know Jessie was realizing that underneath a whole lot of talent, she also has a whole lot of faith. She believes in her dreams and is working hard to achieve them, but also knows that her next steps are already guided and laid out in front of her, which is inspiring in itself. There is a calm confidence about her in addition to her fun, free-spirited side. Overall, I just think she’s pretty darn awesome. Be sure to follow her Facebook page… this girl is going places, so now’s the time.
Thank you, Jessie for a super-fun shoot and interview! Until next time…