Hey! I'm Jessica. This is my little story in a nutshell! Read on if you're interested!
I started this whole thing after graduating high school in 2008 with the dream of being the next big pop star. I had grown up in awe of young stars like Avril, The Spice Girls, Britney and Hilary Duff and was instantly in love with the idea of getting to perform for a living. I was perhaps the slightest bit delusional about my future considering I basically had no real experience performing. I had always known I wanted to be a singer but I never felt very lucky when it came to opportunities...or maybe I was just too young and blind to see them when they did come my way and though my dear mom tried to get me involved in things...she probably had this exact thought: "I love you, little artist Jess...but I seriously don't know what to do with you."
No amazing stories of a 14 year old prodigy singing in karaoke bars or leading church worship here...sorry!
By the year 2010 with little to no guidance or direction, I became quite discouraged. Youtube seemed to be where everyone was starting to "get discovered" but any content I put on the internet was poor quality due to my lack of knowledge and cheap recording gear...also, I wasn't very good. My minimum wage job at Staples wasn't affording me anything fancy and performing exclusively at open mic nights around town didn't pay anything either. I remember being so gutted that I was ageing and hadn't gotten anywhere with music. Everyone I had ever looked up to had been signed to a record label by the age of 16...Here I was, 20 years old, selling office supplies rather than selling out huge stadium tours. HOW COULD THIS BE?? WHAT ABOUT MY DREAM? MY DESTINY???
Fast forward to 2013. I had a full time job teaching art (a job I actually enjoyed) and a couple of regular music gigs from which I made a bit of money. I had become a better singer, I went from being a pretty terrible guitarist to a mediocre one, and was essentially just grinding away, doing my thing, trying to figure out who I was, secretly hating myself for not being a pop star. Normal 23 year old stuff. Out of nowhere, I met Hugh Barbour, an incredibly talented musician from The U.K.. It was so refreshing to meet someone with my level of ambition who was also just as directionless and lost as me. A musical partnership formed and we began performing together more and more. With Hugh beside me, I was able to focus more on what I was really good at: singing! Suddenly, my name was being written on sandwich boards! That was really exciting for me! Some validation! Some encouragement! This is when things actually started to happen.
Over the course of the next 4 years, I started to attract a small following from around the world. After we finally recorded a full length album, people started responding to my original songs. Something I had almost lost hope on. Hugh and I were gigging regularly and actually started making some money. We even booked ourselves a 2 month tour around Europe in 2016 where we visited 9 countries and sold over 500 copies of the album. The tour was completely funded by music. This was around the time when I decided that I couldn't go back to working for anyone else. I felt like I had the support, the proper tools, an amazing partner and a better grasp on who I was as an artist to take on the challenge of being a full time performer. This is not to say that it has been smooth sailing since then; there have definitely been struggles but they're the struggles I signed up for and I love them.
I am well aware that this isn't a great story. Other than the romantic aspect of me falling in love with my band mate (love you, Hugh!), it doesn't include a ground-breaking talent show win, a viral youtube video or really anything of great significance in that realm. It's basically just the story of the grind and how it was essential that I took responsibility of my own life and career. 10 years ago, I was waiting for the world to discover me and in the end I had to (*sigh*...yes, I'm gonna say it) discover the world. Not to say that I am this wise, old artist...like, I'm only 27 and I'm still just getting started, but I know now that everything is up to me. If I want something, I need to work at it and that was the truth all along.
Today, I am a full time musician and performer. I am proud to say that I'm the best singer I can be and my guitar skills are actually not too bad! I work alongside wonderful musicians and am lucky enough to have many friends and mentors in the business. It feels so good to be living back in my home town of Langley, B.C. and I know the next chapter of my life is gonna be rad.
Lucky, blessed, grateful...all that stuff. I feel it.
Thanks for reading,