EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Jenn Bostic
There are many words that can be used to describe singer/songwriter/musician, Jenn Bostic: talented; intelligent; humble; gracious; personable; soulful; inspiring … and that is just to name a few. During our extremely chatty telephone conversation, I learned that Jenn is one of the mentally and physically strongest people I have had the pleasure of “meeting” and that this artist gets lost in her craft for the most admirable of reasons. With accolades and awards that are exceedingly impressive and in which any artist would hold a great deal of pride, what Jenn holds dearest is the impact she has made on the lives of those who can relate to her music.
Jenn Bostic was raised in a musical family. When she was younger, her family would sit around after dinner, with her father playing guitar, and he and Jenn would each sing songs. In an extraordinarily unfortunate twist of fate, Jenn’s father’s life was cut short in a tragic car accident when she was ten years of age. “It broke my heart, but trying to find a therapy to express those things was so difficult, so I sat down at the piano again and, for me, he taught me how to play, he taught me how to sing … that was the one connection that remained with him not being around anymore. And, through that, I just enveloped myself in every form of music I could.”
When Jenn graduated high school, she went to Berklee School of Music in Boston. After studying music education for four years, she received her degree and moved to Nashville to pursue singing and performing. At that early point in Jenn’s career, she used songwriting as a personal outlet without considering that it would be something she would ultimately pursue as well. Jenn admits that, at the beginning, her songwriting was more “elementary” and cathartic than a road she ever anticipated traveling in her professional career … until she spent more time in Nashville. After about a year and a half in Music City, Jenn sat down with two of her good friends, Zach Runquist and Jimmy Fortune, and the talented trio incidentally penned “Jealous of the Angels.”
On her way to write with Runquist and Fortune, Jenn felt unprepared for the writing session she was about to experience and decided that she needed to channel her feelings. As such, she pulled into a parking lot and began jotting her thoughts into a notebook to help her “get in that moment.” While the notes were “a jumbled mess,” one line of her notes, particularly, stood out to Runquist and Fortune. “I wrote ‘I’m just jealous of the angels that get to spend time with him,’ and Jimmy had said ‘that’s our song.’ So, we kind of ran with that and that whole writing process was just so intimate. Sometimes it can feel like a pressured situation. You’re writing for a living, trying to touch the world, but it wasn’t like that. It was very intimate, very personal. Let’s just write this song and not worry what anybody else is going to think about it, and, of course, that’s when the best ones come out.”
Jenn could not have predicted the path the song would take, but it was important for her, in her healing process, to get her message out. She began performing “Jealous of the Angels” at a few shows and, lo and behold, it became clear that the song wasn’t only an aid to her in working through her own grief, but it was, likewise, touching fans. People started approaching Jenn, sharing their stories and why they could empathize with the lyrics. “I just thought it was such a beautiful thing, just to see the Lord work in that way. Being able to hear so many personal stories and connect that with people on such an emotional level. I mean, that means more than any award I could ever win.” Jenn was so touched by the stories that she started a blog on her website where she could share fans’ stories with other fans alike.
“Jealous of the Angels” resonated with show-goers so dearly that they took it into their own hands to help Jenn’s message spread. A fan sent the song to a radio DJ in the United Kingdom, and, as they say, the rest is history. Jenn began receiving Twitter messages and Facebook comments about the song, not realizing that a fan had started the proverbial ball rolling. The radio station then reached out to Jenn’s management to schedule an interview, which continued what Jenn refers to as a “beautiful process.” In true whirlwind fashion, Jenn was writing in her Nashville apartment one day and was whisked off to the United Kingdom to promote her hit song the next.
This heartfelt, gut-wrenching, yet soul-soothing song continued to make its rounds and, ultimately, landed in the ears of the Independent Country Music Association and the voting fans. Jenn described receiving five, yes five, Independent Country Music Awards as “humbling.” After tediously trying to write that one hit song, Jenn realized that the formula for success was digging deep into her soul and just writing for herself. “It’s a really special thing to be able to hang a Best Song Award for ‘Jealous of the Angels’ next to my piano. It’s an encouragement that my dad is watching over me … it’s a really beautiful thing.”
While Jenn has been honored by the Independent Country Music Association and has found a home in Nashville and in the hearts of country music fans, Jenn doesn’t necessarily pigeonhole herself as a country purist. “Piano-driven; a lot of my stuff is emotive. And for the next record, I’m really excited about it, as I have grown as an artist and a writer and kind of knowing who I am as far as what I want to do with the music; how I want to touch people. I’m excited to see where that goes. I’ve been working with a lot of people in Los Angeles who are toward the pop side of things, so, professional-wise, it will probably stray a little more from country than it has in the past, but, I think, you just try to create great music.”
Looking forward, Jenn would love to secure an opening spot on a North American tour and have the opportunity to expand her fan base. Jenn’s dream opening slots would be “Bonnie Raitt (Jenn’s ‘absolute favorite’), Joss Stone, Sara Bareilles … someone like that.” Jenn is looking to release her next record in the Spring, which will lead to a tour of the new music in the Spring, Summer, and, possibly Fall.
Though Jenn listed a few places she cannot wait to visit for a performance (which included Napa), her favorite place to perform is the Grand Ole Opry. Jenn recalled an instance when she saw Carrie Underwood perform at the Opry and, as she sat in the audience, tears streamed down her face. “This place is so amazing, and just the desire to be on that stage singing. And I sang there a few times now. There was one particular time, right around Fathers’ Day, when I sang … the video for it is up on YouTube. I could just feel my dad’s presence there and to be able to honor him around Fathers’ Day, and when I was done, there was a standing ovation and they brought the house lights up. It was just one of those moments when your dream came true. You’re sitting there thinking back to that moment when you were watching somebody else do it, thinking I want to do that and that would make me so happy. Then it comes true. It’s crazy. It goes back to that little girl that goes ‘follow your dreams and they can come true,’ and then to actually see it. It’s crazy.”
Aside from music, we found out that Jenn (like this particular Keepin’ It Country staff member) is a runner who is currently in full-fledged training mode. Jenn and her husband are currently training for the London Marathon (a full marathon, that is … 26.2 miles). Jenn is excited to check a goal off her bucket list, while revisiting the area that helped put “Jealous of the Angels” on the map. Jenn and her husband are running for a charity that provides wheelchairs to children whose families are unable to afford same, and it brings Jenn great pleasure to give back to the community that supported her as her career began to unfurl.
In speaking to Jenn Bostic, an incredibly special side of music shone through. Jenn prides herself on remaining as honest and passionate as she can when she is sending a message to her fans. “I just pray that within my catalog there is just one song that somebody can listen to and feel something, and that’s, again, why I love Bonnie Raitt … she does that with ‘Can’t Make You Love Me,’ [which] is my favorite song in the entire world. If I can write a different form of song that somebody can actually feel in their heart and feel in their chest, that’s the ultimate goal for me. I just hope that the people can find something in my catalog they can relate to and find comfort and inspiration.”
Jenn, undoubtedly, offers comfort and inspiration, not only in her music, but also in conversation. It is impossible to hang up from Jenn and not feel as though a uniquely special individual just entered your life. This talented artist is one we will be covering for years on Keepin’ It Country, as it is certain that her young career is only beginning. It was an absolute honor to get a glimpse behind the music that touched my heart, and an immeasurable privilege to learn about the inner-workings of such a beautiful artist and soul. Keep your eye out for Jenn Bostic, music fans of all types. That name is about to become one for the history books!
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