Savoring the Moment: Rising star Jenn Bostic shares lessons learned thus far in her music career
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with singer/songwriter Jenn Bostic. Her passion for music has taken her from small town Minnesota, across the pond to the UK, and now back to the Music City, Nashville Tennessee. Jenn is getting ready to release her fourth album, Revival. Earlier this week, I was able to sit down with Jenn and hear about her experiences in the music industry.
What is your backstory?
Born in Philadelphia, raised in the small town of Waconia, Minnesota, I was constantly surrounded by music. My dad was a hobby musician who always put an instrument in the hands of my brother and me. I still remember singing along to the strum of his guitar as a family. Unfortunately, we lost my dad too soon, and songwriting was the therapy that got me through that traumatic experience. I studied Music Education at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and upon graduation moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue my dreams of being a singer. I recorded my first pop/country album in 2009, and was told by many music industry executives that I was “too pop for country and too country for pop.” This led to the writing and recording of my sophomore album “Jealous,” which includes a track called “Jealous of the Angels,” written for my late father. A fan in the UK found the music video for this song and sent it to a radio station. People immediately started connecting with the song, and before I knew it I was invited to perform it on BBC Breakfast Television, as well as The Grand Ole Opry, and in December of 2012 the song went #1 on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart in the UK. Through this success, my heart was opened to the powerful healing that can take place through music. “Jealous of the Angels,” opened the door to connecting with listeners in an incredible way. In 2015, I released my third album Faithful, which led to a performance on BBC’s Songs of Praise. In 2017, I was named “International Touring Artist of the Year” by the British Country Music Association, and I have a new album set to release May 4, entitled Revival.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that has happened to you thus far in your music career?
During my first full band tour of the UK, I had an incredible band made up primarily of UK Musicians, and keyboard player Alex Wright from Nashville. We performed about 13 shows over three weeks, and our final show was at Norwich Arts Centre in Norwich, England. There were a lot of laughs throughout the tour, and to my surprise, when we performed my song Gay or Taken by request that night, Alex jumped off the stage with a kazoo and ran through the audience in a Santa hat. I laughed so hard I could barely finish the song. It’s moments like this, and friends like Alex, that remind me not to take myself too seriously.
What are some of the most exciting projects you’re currently working on?
I just finished recording my fourth album Revival, and it is my favorite project I’ve ever been a part of. For the first time, I boldly stepped into the studio and knew exactly what I wanted to record. I didn’t listen to opinions on what might be “radio-friendly” or “marketable,” I made the music my soul was longing to make, with some of my favorite people in the world. I’m incredibly proud of the music we captured and I cannot wait to get it into the world.
Who are the most famous people you’ve interacted with? What was that like?
Christian Kane is a rockstar. I am incredibly grateful to have played several shows with Christian in England, including an amazing festival called One More Shot that raises funds for breast cancer. I will never forget the first time I supported Christian, he came out on stage before I went on and personally introduced me to all of his fans. I have learned a lot from him.
Who inspires you? (Can be musical or just general historic figure)
The music of Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi inspires me more than any other. Their vocal delivery is powerful, emotional and raw. I’ve seen both artists perform live on several occasions and each time I’m in the audience, it’s a masterclass. Fingers crossed that maybe someday I can support one or both of them.
Who do you aspire to be like?
I aspire to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be. If I’ve learned anything over the last decade of being in the music industry it is that we don’t need a copy of what already exists. The more authentic and genuine I am as a person and an artist, the better music I’m creating. I aspire to touch people’s hearts through the music I write, and to love people right where they are.
How have you used your success to bring goodness into the world?
My song “Jealous of the Angels,” written for my late father, is a song that my soul needed to write. I’m incredibly grateful to Jimmy Fortune and Zach Runquist who wrote this song with me. It was an emotional day, but I believe through the writing and performing of this song, my heart has been healed. I’m grateful to my co-writers for pushing me to write the honest, vulnerable truth. I believe that is why the song has connected with so many around the world. It truly has changed my life. I am both humbled and overwhelmed to hear the song being called a “classic” in Northern Ireland, and have received countless messages about how the song has touched the hearts of hurting people around the world. The song is so much bigger than Jimmy, Zach or I could take credit for, and I’m so grateful God gave it to us. As I continue writing and releasing music into the world, I pray that it encourages and empowers people to believe they can overcome the obstacles in their own lives.
What are 5 things you wish someone had told you when you first started, and why?
- Don’t worry so much about what other people think. Moving to Nashville with big dreams, I allowed myself to get caught up in what others would think. Whether it was music industry executives, radio programmers or friends and family, I allowed myself to worry about their opinions during the creative process instead of writing straight from my heart. I am so grateful to have learned that lesson early on in my career.
- Never give up. There have been so many times that I’ve felt like throwing in the towel and pursuing a different profession because doors weren’t opening the way I thought they should. However, it was in those moments of desperation and disappointment that I would have to trust God that He has a plan for my life. Without fail, something amazing would happen about a week after I felt like giving up. I believe things come to pass when they’re meant to, and though I’m still working on the art of patience, I try to live my life believing something good is always about to happen.
- Receive. I don’t like to inconvenience anyone, so when people offered me a free place to stay, a hot meal, gas money, etc, I used to have a hard time receiving it, thinking I was putting them out. I didn’t see my art as something I was giving in exchange, until it was explained to me by my great friend and artist Tiffany Thompson. When you view your art as a mission, bringing good into the world, it’s okay to let people help you, and often times they enjoy being a part of the journey. I’m incredibly grateful to each and every person who has generously been a part of this walk, whether through words of encouragement, hospitality or financial support.
- Savor the moments. I have made the mistake of reaching a goal and instead of stopping to celebrate the achievement, I’d start reaching for the next one. Now, I try to make an effort to celebrate accomplishments and the journey it took to get there. Paul Salveson, the producer for my new album Revival, was really intentional about capturing moments in the studio and reflecting on them. I’m incredibly grateful for all he taught me through the process and actively try to be better about this.
- Gratitude. I am incredibly grateful to create and perform music for a living. When I was in college that was the goal I declared and to see it come to fruition is such a gift. However, there are times when I see the desires of my heart just out of reach, or happening for someone else, and that can be disappointing or frustrating. However, when I stop, start remembering all that I have to be thankful for, and remind myself that there is a special, unique plan for my life, my soul finds peace again.
Who would you want to share a meal with? Why?
Honestly, I’d love to have a meal with my dad again. While my heart has had a lot of time to heal, I think it would be such a beautiful, powerful experience to sit down with him now, 22 years after his passing, and have a conversation about life, music and faith. He was the first person to encourage me to play music, and now I make my living creating and performing it.