Underground Interview With Jessica Carter
Jessica Carter is a singer-songwriter from Columbia, MO. Jessica began her love for music at age three, while repeatedly beating and singing on coffee cans. Her influences range from many genres of music including:
Johnny Cash, George Strait, Dolly Parton, Miranda Lambert, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Joan Jett, Queen, Eagles and many more. After years of being involved in music through school, she began trying her hand at songwriting. She would then pursue a degree to further her knowledge and skills in music. Jessica graduated from Central Methodist University in 2014 with a bachelors in Music Education. From there she would go on to teach elementary music in Mid-MO for the next 5 years. Through teaching she learned how to be a better musician, by helping her students to be confident in their work. As she continued to push her students to follow their dreams, at whatever talent they exceeded in, Jessica decided to take her own advice. In the fall of 2019, she is trading her midwest roots and teaching degree, for the music scene. She will finally pursue her dreams of being a singer-songwriter!
Websites or Social Media Pages:
Facebook & Instagram: @jessicacartermusic
What Musical Genre Do You Feel Best Describes Your Music And How Would You Describe Your Sound?:
Country and Rock and Roll. I love all genres, music to me is a universal language. Every artists is talented and every artists has a beautiful story to tell. My story starts with, music being my only drug. It has always been my escape and safe haven. My sound comes from that. I put my heart and soul into everything, because I was put down for so long. With abuse, abandonment, depression and PTSD in my life by the time I was 9, I had to find something to lean on. I would lock myself in my room and sing and listen to music all night. My sound is something for me, but also to share with others. My sound is raw, emotional and personal in many different ways. My music can channel a happy-go-lucky time, to on the verge of tears, all the way to wanting to break things. My sound is something unique to me, but maybe a blessing to someone else. My goal of telling my story is to help others through what I’ve been through. I want others to know they are not alone. I want my sound to give them a safe haven as well.
How Did You Get Your Name? Is There A Story?
My name is my birth name. Not a cool story or anything, I would love to be able to say I’m related to June Carter or something, but really my name is the last thing connecting me to my father.
What Are or Have Been Your Musical Influences?
I grew up listening to everything, literally everything! Honestly, my music of the day depends on my mood. My biggest influences that I credit my music to, range from many genres including: Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Joan Jett, Queen, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, George Strait, Eagles, Elvis Presley, Eric Church, Justin Timberlake, Chris Stapleton and many more!
What Are You Working On Now? Any Future Collaborations We Can Look Forward To?
Covid-19 has unfortunately slowed this down, but I am in the process of finishing my debut album. I put my first single out in September. It was my acoustic version of “What We Did”. What you have to look forward to, is a debut album featuring a remastered version of “What We Did”. Covid-19, may have slowed my album down, but my goal is to have it out by the end of 2020. It will not stop me!
What Is Your Ultimate Goal In The Music Industry? What Is Your Plan Of Action?
My life plan would be to make a living only on my music. I would love nothing more than to fully focus on music, instead I balance 2-3 other jobs. I would love more time with my music, but I also have to pay my bills. Of course, it would be a dream to be famous, however being famous isn’t as important as changing someone’s life with my music. My main goal is for my music to be a safe haven, escape or something positive for others in need. I want my music to change someone’s life for the better, that to me is everything.
What Is Your Favorite Track To Perform Live and Why?
My originals I love to perform “What We Did” or “Light Up My Flame Tonight”. Both of these are so personal to me and I really get into them. What We Did- is about loving everyone and being kind even to those with mental illnesses. I myself have struggled with depression and PTSD since I was 9 years old. Only God has the power to judge and even then, God loves everyone, just as we should. So be kind to one another, or keep your damn mouth shut.
Light Up My Flame Tonight- is a dedication to my grandfather, who was my only father. He taught me two important things: 1- Johnny Cash is the best and 2-how a man should treat a woman. God rest his soul, I learned the hard way with men, and now I’m grateful for my grandfathers advice. I understand his advice more now than ever. That’s exactly what my song is about.
Covers- right now my favorite is “Shallow” by: Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper. I love when I hit those high notes and the crowd starts to cheer, that just revs me up more and more. This song not only has that beautiful melodic line, but also has a wonderful meaning that I connect well with.
What Has Been The Biggest Challenge In Your Career Thus Far?
My biggest challenge is getting over my fear of what people think of me and not being good enough. Growing up I was always put down, at school I was bullied on being fat and ugly, at home I was abandoned and abused. I was always told I was worthless and not good enough. I still to this day struggle with all of it. It’s hard for me to even accept compliments. When someone tells me I’m beautiful, I don’t believe it. When someone says I have a good voice, I still get don’t believe it fully. However, I believe it more today than I did yesterday, all because of one person making a difference. That one person, talked me up and told me not to give a shit about what others may think. That one person told me that I had an amazing voice and the world needed to hear it. I may still struggle with my confidence, but every show that I have people cheering me on, is such a reassurance that my past was completely wrong. It is such a beautiful blessing from God and I will never forget it! One thing I love to live by is making sure I am the worst person in the room. The reason being, it will always challenge me to be better than the person or musician I was yesterday. I challenge myself to be better for only myself, never for anyone else. Not anymore!
What’s Your Typical Songwriting Process?
Honestly it depends on what pops in my head first. Typically I pick a story line out and make my lyrics, then add music. Every now and then I get a melody in my head first and start there. No matter what, I always make sure to establish my story, then I ask myself these questions- how will this song impact someone’s life? What do you want to say? Is this something everyone can relate to? Is this something worth hearing all over the world?
When I figure all of that out and plan how I want the story to progress, then I add certain words to make it rhyme and fit in a melodic line with chord progressions.
How Has Social Media Influenced Your Career As An Artist?
It has been a great asset. I have met some really good people, they have critiqued me or giving me ideas. I love making connections, especially with other musicians! I have also grown a fan base, and it is really cool seeing those followers at your shows. Just last weekend I had one of my fans come to my Jefferson City, MO show and I was so honored! I am very blessed either way.
What Are Some Tracks and Artists Currently On Your Playlist?
Johnny Cash- God’s Gonna Cut You Down
Dolly Parton- Jolene
Deana Carter- Strawberry Wine
Elvis Presley- Can’t Help Falling in Love
Kelly Clarkson-I Dare You
Miranda Lambert- Bluebird
Soft Cell- Tainted Love
Joan Jett-I Hate Myself For Loving You
Maren Morris-My Church
Journey-Don’t Stop Believin
Grease-Your The One That I Want
Whitney Houston-I Wanna Dance With Somebody
Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper- Shallow
Lauren Daigle-You Say
Blake Shelton- God’s Country
Jennifer Lopez- Limitless
Carrie Underwood ft Ludacris- The Champion
Chris Stapleton- Tennessee Whiskey
Ike and Tina Turner- Proud Mary
Post Malone- Take What You Want
Ozzy Osborne-Crazy Train
What Did You Do Before You Started Making Music?
I taught K-5 elementary music in Mid-MO for 5 years. I spent the last 3 years teaching at McIntire Elementary School in Fulton, MO. I also balanced being a bartender, waitress, and a top seller at Bath and Body Works. I definitely keep busy, but I also have to pay bills and pay for my music.
Any Advice For Young People (Men or Women) That Want To Succeed In The Music World?
Don’t get caught up with the idea that you have to have your dreams and achievements done but a certain age. I used to think I had to have mine done by 25, otherwise I would never achieve anything. Here I am, almost 29, and I have changed careers, and now I am doing what my true calling is. That’s what your 20’s are for, to find out who you are and what your meant to be in this world. Once I figured that out, the rest came easily. Enjoy your youth and don’t rush anything, but more importantly try everything and make mistakes. I do not regret one minute of teaching, it was a part of figuring out who I am. I finally figured out it wasn’t my calling, and that I was pushed toward it more than anything. Lastly, do not let others talk you out of what your passionate and good at. Go for it! You won’t know till you try!!!! Do it for yourself, never do it for anyone else!!!!
What Would You Change In The Music Industry If You Were A Top Music Executive?
If I could change one thing, it would be to have more females and/or people of color in the industry. I feel like there are less and less women and people of color in the music and film industry. More importantly, there are less and less getting recognized for their hard work. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of talented hard working men out there in the industry. Hell, Johnny Cash and Keanu Reeves are my all time favorite musician and actor of all time. However, we need to even it out and bring more into these industries. That starts with bring more women and people of color into those industries.
How Do You Feel About Originality?
I love originality! Don’t get me wrong, songwriters need a job and need people to write for, but originality is something no one else can take from you. Originality is your story you get to share with the world, no one else can tell it but you. It’s raw, and emotional but it’s so worth it.
Is There Anything Else We Should Know About You Or That You Would Like to Add?
In the words of the beautiful Ellen DeGeneres, “be kind to one another”. No matter what race, gender, sexuality, size, political beliefs, religious beliefs, Mental Illnesses, etc. Love one another and take care of each other. We as humans are all we have. We as humans, read that right, we all bleed red, therefore we need to take care of each and every human out there!
I myself have seen hard times, I had both parents abandon my siblings and I, and I was raped and abused-sexually, violently, and mentally. I endured all of this from age 7-17. By age 9, I ended up with severe depression and PTSD. It was not a wonderful life, but I found one thing to pull me through, music. Music will always be my medicine, it doesn’t numb the pain, in fact it heals the pain.
Thank you for having me and I hope you enjoyed my story. ❤️-Jessica Carter