Jenn Bostic: Singing From The Rooftops
Playing on the roof of the flagship Whole Foods store in Austin: surely on the organic bucketlist of many a music artist?
“I was the artist ambassador for a South by Southwest event called Southwest Invasion,” singer-songwriter Jenn Bostic tells me, during some well-earned down time. “It takes place on top of the original Whole Foods in Austin. We had about 15,000 people come to our event, which was great for promoting the Whole Planet Foundation.”
A charity Jenn is closely involved with, the Foundation raises money for thousands of entrepreneurs living in poverty, around the world.
“There’s a beautiful plaza there,” Jenn continues. “They set up a giant mainstage, and also a side stage around the corner. It was a pretty cool event.”
I ask the burning question — did she get any free snacks from Whole Foods?
“Oh yes, the sponsors of the event kept us fed!”
Jenn is no stranger to South by Southwest, having made numerous appearances in recent years. After losing her father to a motoring accident at a young age, she always felt her father’s presence when making music, which left her certain that it had to be her career. Initially, record labels and critics wrote her off as 'too country for pop, too pop for country',(despite a certain Taylor Swift doing exactly that), but she would quickly prove her doubters wrong after winning several awards in the world of country music. She became popular in the UK when her song about her father, Jealous Of The Angels, was picked up by BBC Radio 2 and played by legendary broadcaster, Terry Wogan.
“I think growing up in a really small town in Minnesota, I hadn’t really built up the confidence to believe I could be a performer,” Jenn says. “I had to learn that in college. Growing up in the midwest, you have that family house with the white picket fence and two kids running around always in the back of your mind! The kind of life I have right now, touring all the time, recording new records, I love it so much. But it does leave you wondering how things will fit together, and if I’m doing the right thing.
“It is extremely challenging — one minute you’re on top of the world, the next, it’s not the case! [laughs]. It’s just creating these songs out of nothing, that resonate with people, being honest and authentic with the message you want to put out to the world.”
I’m keen to know how Jenn gets through these moments of artistic crisis. She also identifies as a Christian songwriter, so presumably her faith plays an important role, when her musical faith is ebbing.
“Honestly, sometimes I’m just writing through them,” Jenn says, with a laugh. “I vent through the songwriting. It’s just trying to stay positive, and really taking care of yourself. That means something different for everybody, but for me that means staying active and healthy.
“If your mind and body are healthy, that definitely breeds positivity. It stops you focusing on what chart position your song is in, who’s going to be at the show, all these sorts of things. I just focus on the fact that this is what I was born to do, and I think people are connecting with the music. My job is just to get the music out there, and continue to do it in a way that brings me joy, peace, and happiness. Nothing is guaranteed, you just have to do the best with what you have.”
Faint Of Heart is the second single from Jenn’s upcoming fourth album, Revival. Jenn gives me the lowdown on her latest record:
“It’s just continuing this conversation that I’m creating the music that I feel I’m called to make, and that inspires me personally, rather than what is ‘marketable’. What’s been beautiful about that is people absolutely feel authenticity when you’re performing. They can hear it in the songs, and they can hear it in the performances. That’s what they connect with. For me, it’s been only positive things about this record, as far as my fans are concerned. It’s the music that feels most effortless for my voice to sing.”
Jenn chose to record Revival in Nashville, the city in which she’s chosen to base her musical career.
“I recorded it at House of Blues [in Nashville],” Jenn reveals “The producer is a really great friend of mine; he’s been in the business forever and has about six Grammys under his belt. He listened to what I wanted; he made suggestions, of course, but never once were my ideas or visions overridden.”
When Jenn confirms my suspicion that empowerment and self belief is the overarching theme of the record, I ask what made her want to make this the main theme.
“I think that’s what music has done for me my whole life,” she says, after a brief pause. “It’s empowered me, and encouraged me to keep going. A lot of the time, I write these songs, whether or not they become empowering anthems, purely because I need to hear those words. The fact that other people need to hear them too, has just happened organically.”
Jean descended on the UK in April, where she played shows in Kent, Birmingham, Manchester, Belfast, Newcastle, and the revered Bush Hall in West London. She is now back Stateside, and will play The Fox And Hounds in Studio City, CA tomorrow night (Sunday 29th July), with several shows across Tennessee and Georgia in August. With such a positive head on her shoulders, and a desire to share that positivity with everyone who comes into contact with her music, Headliner fully expects Revival to be a great success, indeed. And it’s good to know that it isn’t all purely for the free snacks from Whole Foods.
Words Adam Protz