Jessica McNear is the first country artist we've interviewed here on the TFC blog! Jessica talks about her song "Leavin' Home", her Pennsylvania roots and more.
The Fan Connection (TFC): Hi Jessica! Thank you for taking some time out for an interview with us today!
Jessica McNear: You are welcome! Thanks for having me!
TFC: Tell us a little about yourself and your music. You're a country solo artist, right?
Jessica: Yes, but I like to describe my music as being a little mixture of everything because I like many styles of music. My influences come from a wide range from southern rock to classic rock and classic country all the way up to 90s and current pop music.
TFC: About what age did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career?
Jessica: I was always influenced from a young age, but I was in high school when I decided that I really wanted to pursue this not only as a huge dream but as a career path for myself. I was about 16 years old and had the lead roll in my high school musical. Once I graduated I was ready to go full force!
TFC: It's amazing how many people find their talents in high school orchestra and musicals. Do you write your own songs?
Jessica: Yes I do! I also like to co-write and see what songs are out there that are already published because sometimes you are wanting to get a certain point across, and it's hard sometimes to put it in your own words. I have and still do write some of my songs though.
TFC: Can you remember the first full song you wrote and at what age?
Jessica: I started writing poetry when I was about 12 years old, and then starting forming that into songwriting, but I've written so much over the years that I honestly don't remember the first full song that I wrote.
TFC: Describe your writing process...lyrics first or melody?
Jessica: I am usually a lyrics-first writer because when I get something in my head I have to write it down. But sometimes a melody pops into my head and I go with it first.
"It is very very, very competitive there but that has molded me to work harder as an artist and as a person in general."
TFC: You're originally from Freedom, PA. What's the music scene like in your hometown and in what way did it help to mold you into the artist you are now?
Jessica: Yes...a small town just north of Pittsburgh, PA. The music scene is very much rock and southern rock based, but the country genre has grown there over the years. It is very very, very competitive there but that has molded me to work harder as an artist and as a person in general. I have had some great influences and teachers that came from that area, two being my vocal coach and my drama coach/band leader in school.
TFC: There's always a ton of competition when a small town DOES have a good music scene, but like you said, it's a good thing when you have to work harder to compete. It only makes you better! When did you decide to make the big move to Music City and how have you changed or grown as a musician since moving here?
Jessica: I was 20 years old when I said to myself, "I just need to get out of this small town and see what else is out there. I need to grow and I can't do it here." Since the move I have learned so much about the industry, and when I moved the industry was changing with social media and decreasing number of records sales so it was an eye opener! But as it continues to change, I am always growing and shaping myself into the best artist I can be!
TFC: We definitely understand that! I think all of us have had to grow and mold a little with the changing music scene. It's opened up a whole new world of possibilities for sure, and then there is of course the changes that have made it tougher just the same. Tell us a little about your songs "Leavin' Home" and "Just Believe (John's Song)".
Jessica: The song "Leavin' Home" came from a place in my heart kind of like Miranda Lambert's song "The House that Built Me". It was the first time ever living or being far from home, and I wanted to touch on all those relatable points that listeners could refer to, because we have all left home at some point or another to pursue a dream or career. Everything in that song is true and were actual events. I can still picture me pulling out of the driveway with a car and moving truck with everything I ever knew behind me in the rear view mirror.
"Just Believe (John's Song)" came from a very personal place as well. It was written for a high school classmate of mine who was diagnosed with cancer when he was just 17 years old. I watched him and his family go through struggles that some of us can't even imagine, but his words of truth to remember was COURAGE + BELIEVE = LIFE. He was so strong even through the weakest moments, and myself and my classmates got to watch him graduate with us and then just a few months later, he passed away in August of 2008. His family started an organization to help other families with children that have cancer and other diseases called the Courage for Life Foundation. All the proceeds from the sales of the single went toward that organization. The point of the song was to remember him, his courage, and things that he did and said through his short life here on earth.
TFC: You've just submitted to the TOADLICK Music Festival for June 2016. Is this a voting process to get on the bill, or should we just wait to hear a possible announcement?!
Jessica: As far as I know right now, I am just waiting for the announcement if I am chosen to perform.
TFC: We're definitely sending you positive vibes for that! Fans are an integral part of the journey in the music industry for sure. If there was one thing you could ask of your fans to help push you further this year, what would it be?
Jessica: Just to make sure to follow me on all social media and please comment, like and share as much as possible! That let's me know that you are excited and interested in what I am doing, and it is a way for them to let me know what they may want to see or hear from me, make song requests, get info on upcoming shows and events, etc. Some of the shows I play through certain organizations involve a voting process and ticket sales which is very important when it comes time to show how large your fan base is. Just be involved! I love to see and hear what my fans have to say because that lets me know whether I am doing my job or not and how well I am doing it.
TFC: As you know, The Fan Connection is a social media e-commerce site geared specifically towards artists and fans. 2016 is promising some really great feature roll-outs, like a new music player with radio-like formatting, professionally run Fan Clubs, merchandise stores and live video streaming. Of the few mentioned above, which do you think will be the most helpful for you as an artist and why?
Jessica: I would say the Fan Clubs and the merch store. I don't have an official "fan club" per se, and that would be a great way to get people involved! The merch store is always helpful because not only can someone buy something at a show, but they also have access to those items online. Even if they can't make it to an event, they can still purchase and support! Plus it's also a great advertising campaign and gets people talking.
TFC: Thank you for hanging out with us today. We look forward to seeing you more on TFC!
Jessica: I loved hanging out with you as well and I look forward to seeing all my fans on this awesome site!
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