L.A. Songstress Jessica Childress Talks The Voice, Songwriting, & Debut Album
You may remember her stellar voice and lovely curls as a season 4 contestant on NBC’s The Voice. The RnB soulstress is back with more music, a new album, and as an opening act on tour with Allen Stone.
Her debut album is due this summer with her first single “Far Away” already released and available on iTunes.
Check out our interview below.
RnB: When did music begin for you?
Jessica: I think I’ve always had music inside me. I’ve always been a musical person but the drive to make music my whole life and career started in 2012. That was when I made my “leap of faith” quit my job and pursued music with my whole heart and attention.
RnB: Who are some of your musical inspirations/ artists you grew up listening to?
Jessica: I grew up in a very religious household so I wasn’t really exposed to much music until college. I grew up listening to classical and sacred music – Mahler, Debussy, and hymns. I was, and am, so inspired by how that music -with or without lyrics — is so evocative. The music itself creates tension and drama and elation. You can feel prayerful or tense or elated all from chords changing a certain way. THAT is so inspiring to me. The music I listen to and am inspired by today is like that too. It makes you feel something. Otherwise, what’s the point right?
RnB: Was music your first love or did you have other passions as well?
Jessica: I think it’s always been my greatest, biggest love. I did other things that I was passionate about but no other endeavor is like music. It’s like being home.
RnB: Let’s talk about The Voice. You were a season 4 contestant. What was that experience like? Can you tell us more about the audition process and performing in front of musical greats such as Usher?
Jessica: It was exhilarating. I’d never done anything like that – I don’t even think I’d had a proper audition before then. It was all uncharted territory for me. I was asked to come and sing for the producers of the show and the next thing you know I was packing my bags and moving into a hotel and picking songs for my blind audition. It happened so fast. Honestly, so much is going on that it’s hard to take it in in the moment. It wasn’t until after I was on the show that I really appreciated what a big moment it was for me.
RnB: What has The Voice taught you as an artist and woman? What’s one thing you’ve taken from your experience on season 4?
Jessica: The biggest thing is “Know thyself”. In this industry it’s easy to merge who you are into a version of what you think you need to be. That’s the easiest way to be overlooked, to lose yourself and your joy. You have to fight for YOU every day all day.
RnB: After The Voice you released your EP “Don’t Forget My Name.” Can you tell us about that project and what it means to you as an artist?
Jessica: That was such an amazing moment for me. These were songs that I’d written over the past decade of my life that had never seen the light of day and suddenly I’m recording them for the world to hear. It was a big step for me to have music out in the world that I’d written on my little piano in my mom’s house.
RnB: Not only are you a singer, but a songwriter as well. What is your creative process and how important, or not, do you think it is for an artist to write their own music?
Jessica: My process is very organic — too organic maybe. I am a slave to the inspiration. When it comes to me, I follow it. But when it doesn’t, I find it really challenging to make it come out. But I’m learning little ways to coax it out when I need it. I think it’s very important for an artist to create. Whatever that is for them. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have to write all the music and lyrics and produce and make beats and be completely self-contained. But I think it’s very difficult for your unique vision to be realized without your words and your ideas in the mix somewhere.
RnB: What was it like sharing the stage with Richie Sambora, Charles Kelley from Lady Antebellum and OAR?
Jessica: So much fun! They’re all so amazing and have these huge careers so getting to sing with them and in the case of OAR become their friends, it’s such a blessing!
RnB: “Far Away” is your first single from your debut album. What is the concept behind this single and what can we expect from your album?
Jessica: I think we are all bombarded with information all day every day. We’re on social media, you can be reached any time of day or night by a device that’s literally on your person most of the time. So little time is spent in stillness. For me, that still time in stillness and even solitude is critical. Far Away is an invitation to get away from all the noise and hecticness of life and find peace.
The album is a snapshot of me as a woman and an artist. It’s kind of a journey through my mind as expressed in R&B/Soul subgenres. It’s R&B, a little disco but in a stripped down and raw, which I think describes my personality perfectly!!
RnB: Anything else you would like to share with fans and for those who aren’t acquainted with “Jessica Childress” yet?
Jessica: I just wanna make you feel something.
Interviewed By: Simone Grant