If you've ever listened to Jenn Bostic's music, the immediate thought that comes to mind is that her songs are deeply personal. She explains that her album is basically her "captured in one CD." Having lost her father at only 10 years old, Jenn launched into her music career, determined to share her story with the world.
The singer/songwriter stopped by iHeartRadio HQ in New York City, where she talked about her very personal songs, how Nashville has influenced her music, her album coming over to the U.S. and more. Check it out below:
How did you get into music in the first place?
I have been playing music for as long as I can remember. Back when I was growing up my family always had sing-alongs after dinner and my dad played guitar, piano, he was a song-writer on the side of being a businessman as well. Unfortunately I lost him in a car accident when I was 10 years old, and music kind of just became the one that let me connect with him. Song writing became the therapy for that and now I mean you know 20 years later.
What artist did you listen to growing up?
My dad always had Emmylou Harris on, that was his favorite, and her voice was just so pure. I know my parents were fans of Bonnie Raitt and that like [an] unmistakable voice. Oh my goodness I love her voice she could make you feel any lyrics she sings. And I was a fan of, I was of course in middle school, high school, was like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Spice Girls age which was amazing, right? In my hairbrush singing those songs! But yeah lots of, lots of pop stuff I guess, and also a little bit of Music Theater. I loved doing shows in high school and things like that.
You were in your school's plays?
Yes, I was the princess in "Once Upon A Mattress" when I was a senior.
What artists do you listen to now?
I still love Bonnie Raitt. I got to see her in concert last year for the first time which was unbelievable. I love Sara Bareilles, Sara McLaughlan, Marc Broussard are some of my favorites as well. Ed Sheeran, so lots of different ones. I love hearing different styles too, to kind of influence what I’m doing.
How would you describe your music?
It’s emotive pop singer/songwriter. It’s got a little adult contemporary, pop, with a touch of country. The genres are blending [together] so much nowadays. But I’m writing songs straight from my heart, straight from life experiences or movies I see, stories I’m told, so each song is really emotional. I feel like emotive pop is probably the best way to describe that.
"Jealous Of The Angels" is obviously a personal song, inspired by your father. Was it really difficult to write?
Yes, I actually tried to write a song similar a few times and never quite got there. Where that feeling of weight had just been lifted from my shoulders. But I think it was 2 or 3 years ago now that I sat down and wrote that one, and it was just everything I needed to say. You know, it gave me the time to process through what had happened and get it out there. And then once the song came out, I started playing it live and started to see that reaction. People became so vulnerable in sharing their own stories once they saw how vulnerable I was being on stage. The first few times I played it I didn’t make it through, without crying at the end of it, and I think there was a lot of healing in that for me. But then to see others kind of be comforted by that and open up the opportunity to talk about something that deep. I think has been a really beautiful helpful thing, you know coming out of the worst tragedy of my life.
Is it hard to sing still, now?
It is and I think some days it’s kind of more hopeful cause I’m hoping that somebody will find some comfort in it. But like last month I was on the Grand Ole Opry stage and I was singing it very close to Father’s Day, and of course that was a really emotional experience for me with my family in the audience. But it’s just one of those things that it’s always going to be a little difficult I think to sing.
You performed at the Opry around Father’s Day? Was that especially difficult for you?
It was right near father’s day. It was the fourteenth; I think father’s day was the sixteenth. Actually the first time I was at the Opry I sang it on the anniversary of his passing. So each time it’s been like very significant moments. So it has, those are definitely harder regardless of the fact that [it was] that stage, which is like this magical experience. But being on those dates it was, it was really hard and I also, towards the end, I got more emotional than normal. But it was just the sense of peace as well. A friend of mine had a dream a few years back that she told me about right after I had written the song. Where she said, “You know your dad came to me in this dream and told me that, you know, that he is watching over you, that he’s at every show and he’s so proud of you.” And so in those moments I kind of had that affirmation of like "he’s here, you know like his presence is here, his spirit is here."
Does he ever come to you in your dreams?
No, no not yet. I’m hoping maybe someday. You never know.
The video to that song has been covered in YouTube around 400 times! How does that make you feel to bring people together, especially for something so personal and deep?
It’s so humbling and overwhelming, my goodness! When I started to see those cover videos come in I was like “Oh my goodness.” Like, you know, this is a song that we just created that was so personal. I had no idea that we’d even touch people the way it has. And then to see, especially young girls who are aspiring singers, to pick a song that I had something to do with, create this cover that’s such an honor. And also on the YouTube video, if you go read the comments, it’s people sharing like a lot of information, becoming vulnerable on a YouTube page. And other viewers are responding to that and kind of being like “Hang in there, I know what you’re going through” and like to see that, like fans just doing that on their own, is unbelievable.
You also have your single “Not Yet.” What was the inspiration behind that?
That was a very frustrated moment in the music business. As a indie artist it’s a slow climb in getting where you can visualize yourself being someday. And I felt like I was in such a season of, you know, just knocking on doors that weren’t opening and remained closed no matter what I did. I was just in a moment of opening my heart and talking to my producer about it, and I was like “I’m so frustrated.” And he said “You know we got to write this.” And in that song, and in that moment, it was one of those defining moments in my life where I said "You know what, no matter what I’m not giving up on this. This is what I feel like I was born to do, I feel like this is my path." So even if, you know, I don’t reach XYZ level of success, like this makes me happy singing and performing and writing makes me happy. And I feel like every time I get to sing that song on stage, it’s such an affirmation reminder of like “Yeah!” you know. It’s been really neat to see other people being encouraged by it too.
How has Nashville influenced your music, because you've performed at the Opry and you've been recognized by the country music community. But your music is not necessarily like Blake Shelton or Keith Urban, country music?
Well, I put out a pop-country record in 2009. It was very in the box pop-country. I shopped with some record labels in Nashville, and they told me I was too pop for country and too country for pop. I think that was such a great thing to have happened because I had the opportunity to really like step back and reflect and be like, “Okay, why did I start writing these in the first place?” “Why do I love this so much?” You know, like, what are the topics that like really make my heart beat faster? And I had the opportunity to tap into that and that’s what Jealous is. The deepest moments of my life or the things that I’ve seen in life that just really hit home for me.
Tell us about your album Jealous?
I’ve got so many songs that I’ve written over the years, but I think it’s the collection of the best 11 songs that I’ve ever written. I mean “Jealous of the Angels” obviously hitting really home for the biggest thing in my life, also “Not Yet” being that frustrated season, and then “Change” which is the first track on there. That one I wrote, it was the first song I wrote after those label meetings in Nashville where they told me I was too pop for country and too country for pop, and the hook line is don’t make me change. So those things are fun and then I’ve got a bunch on there about my husband who I’ve been married for two years now. We dated long distance for a long time, so there’s that in there, and some wedding songs and things like that. So it’s a lot of me captured in one CD.
The album has been released in the UK already. How does it feel to bring it over to your home country and share with your fans here?
Awesome. It’s crazy because when we released it there, I had so many fans that were like “Well when is it coming here?” And at that point, with the indie budget, we didn’t really know. It was kind of like “Well, when it makes sense I guess.” And now that it’s finally out it just feels so good to be out there on the road singing some of these songs that I wasn’t necessarily singing before the album came out. And just promoting it, just really sharing, it’s so much fun. It’s just overwhelming and humbling, it’s great.
I’m in the middle of a tour and I’m thinking about a tour in Europe at the end of the year. And then currently writing for the next album. So hopefully that will be out in May of 2014.
Photos by Katherine Tyler for iHeartRadio