Janelle Arthur (@JanelleOArthur) is perhaps best known, at this time, as a contestant from Season 12 of American Idol. A true beauty, inside and out, the Tennessean country singer and guitarist left her life behind and embarked on the journey that so many hope to experience, but a mere few ever will. After placing fifth in a season of the most epic singing competition to ever land on American television, Janelle has been hard at work launching her solo career. We were fortunate to catch up with the incredibly sweet, personable, and inspiring artist to discuss her childhood, Idol journey, and what her bright musical future holds.
Janelle was born in Oliver Springs, Tennessee and began singing certain words before she could even speak them. Immediately it became clear that music was going to be a huge part of Janelle’s life. From that point forward, Janelle began performing around her hometown and in school, which led to a gig that most country-loving kids would be beyond honored to land. At eight-years-old, Janelle was cast as a young Dolly Parton at the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Janelle’s mom was instrumental in her landing the part, as, after seeing an advertisement for the show in Country Weekly, she called Dollywood and inquired as to whether a child performer was needed. The phone call took place at just the right time, as production was looking for a little girl Janelle’s age to portray Dolly. Janelle’s mom asked if she could bring her to the audition, and thereafter, without hesitation, Janelle was immediately cast in the role.
During her time at Dollywood, Janelle felt as though she was telling her own life story and always pictured herself writing and singing, as Dolly did. She also envisioned that she would relocate to Nashville eventually to pursue her career. Janelle remained in Pigeon Forge for twelve years before she followed her dreams to Music City. Janelle admitted that moving to Nashville was a big step for her, but it was a catalyst for her taking other big steps in her life, especially in an effort to move closer to her dreams of pursuing music. Janelle explained that once she got the nerve to make the move, she believed she could do anything. And with that newfound feeling of independence, Janelle saw American Idol as a feat she was ready to conquer after several years of her family insisting she audition.
Heading into Idol and anticipating that it could be a difficult process, Janelle channeled the message her mother instilled in her throughout her life – “it’s about having fun … it’s about the journey.” And though Janelle experienced her fair share of disappointments during the Idol audition process (she went through the process three times before she was selected for the Top 10), she remained positive and extracted the good aspects of what she had experienced. “I’ve made friends every time I’ve gone back. And I’ve made really great friends that I still to this day talk to; I met even the first season. For me, I can’t give up on a dream. I just had always felt I was supposed to do something bigger than what I was doing. I just kind of always thought there were positive things and they kind of outweigh the bad or the negative and the hurt that comes with being rejected.” Lucky for Janelle and lucky for all of us, she followed her heart and decided that she didn’t want to look back and regret not taking the chance.
Throughout her time on Idol, Janelle not only made lifelong friends, but she made lifelong memories. While Janelle told us that she loved all of her opportunities to perform on the show, especially her performance of You Keep Me Hangin’ On [The Supremes] (due to her memories of singing the song as a child), the absolute highlight was her performance on finale night with The Band Perry. “That was such a highlight for me. They were such kind people. They flew me out to Texas. They said in American Idol history that they never had one of the finale acts fly the person out with them and take time to rehearse with them and get to know them before the actual show. With this, they flew me out, I went to Texas and I stayed on the bus with them, and hung out, we rehearsed, and I went to their show … I just was kind of thinking I never would have been able to do something like this a year ago and here I am on The Band Perry’s bus.”
Fast forward to just a short time later and Janelle was on her own bus, touring the same cities the hottest artists tour, performing music to equally large crowds. Janelle described touring as “the greatest experience” because she was unable to realize when she was on the show the magnitude of the response she would receive from the public. When she was out on tour, Janelle was humbled to see just how many people supported her and voted for her.
Because of the continued support of those people, Janelle has been able to continue moving forward in her career, has already performed at the Grand Ole Opry and is eagerly awaiting news on her next date in the historic Nashville venue. Aside from the Opry, Janelle has been spending significant time writing with several others and is simply inspired by her own deep thinking, whether her thinking stems from her own experiences or experiences she has only heard about from others. Janelle explained that the writing she is currently doing is for a potential album, as she was fortunate enough to be signed with 19 Management following her stint on Idol (which is not a guarantee to any of the contestants on the show).
What can you expect to come from Janelle through the writing process? A variety of music that combines her softer side and her “rootsy” side, puts listeners in good moods, and provides her fans with new angles and hooks that are unique. While Janelle could tell us she has been writing for a potential album, she teased that she also has some exciting and secret projects in the works, and we cannot wait to find out what this artist (who is often compared to Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, and Jewel) has in store.
With information being at our fingertips due to today’s technology and social media, we were, of course, able to learn a little about Janelle through research and following her journey on Idol. However, because we were privileged to speak with this incredibly positive and focused up and comer, we were able to learn some extremely valuable lessons that cannot be found through an Internet search or on a two-hour television program. During our conversation, Janelle instilled in us that it is important to never give up on your dreams or “let other people’s opinions take you down.” Instead, Janelle encouraged us to “keep going” and that “things will happen if they’re meant to because you have to have that belief in yourself even if people don’t believe in you. Even if you have your heart set on one door, that may not be the door you’re supposed to go through, and if you keep yourself open, then the right door will open for you. You’ll find it along the way.”
We are so happy that Janelle found the right door for her and we cannot wait to see what she accomplishes along her fated path!