Article by: Quinn Erwin | Photos courtesy of Jessica Campbell | Posted: 05/03/2012
“I knew I wanted to do music, but I didn’t know what it looked like...” singer/songwriter Jessica Campbell muses, as she talks about her journey to become an artist.
Campbell grew up in a small town in North Carolina where civic events were the source of entertainment, and country music artists like Randy Travis and Don Williams were the soundtrack for life. She was drawn to the stage early on, frequently singing in her church, at baseball games, and in theater productions. Talent competitions and even beauty pageants were ample opportunities for musical exploration.
“I was all about it,” she states with candor.
In high school, Campbell was accepted to governor’s school, affording her the opportunity to study music in a college environment. This fueled her desire to be a musician, and after leaving, she decided to pursue a career in music.
She visited Middle Tennessee State University and promptly enrolled in the music business program. Within those six years at MTSU, she worked at WSM, sang on demos for producers, and did whatever else she could to immerse herself in the music scene. She says she, “still had a lot to learn about it,” though.
“I was always a singer, and I really didn’t learn to play guitar until I was out of college,” she states. “I had written some...I just always wanted to sing...”
Eventually, she moved to Nashville, holed herself up in the writing rooms at SESAC, figured out how to play guitar, and started learning how to write the songs she knew she wanted to sing.
She then dove into the world of co-writing and touring, honing her craft and building relationships. After a short time, she was introduced to Cason Cooley, who became her friend and longtime producer. Her relationship with Cooley sparked the production of several projects, including the record she is writing for currently. Cooley, she says, has been a great coach as she solidifies her identity as an artist.
“We spent a lot of time together, so when I send him songs...he’ll have input on whether or not he thinks that’s a good representation of me,” she explains. “His input matters because he knows my goals and knows what I’m trying to do...”
Past records have been upbeat and bubbly, showcasing Campbell’s tender, sweet voice. Her odes to love and life are filled with a sense of wonder, reverence, and the happiness that comes with first kisses. Her songs move to and fro, much like the porch swings she must have grown up sitting on in her small town. The nostalgia she generates as she sings about simple joys easily puts smiles on other’s faces too.
Her theater background also manages to sneak in her songs as well. While discussing her influences for the full-length she released last fall, she mentions, “Cason and I were inspired by Bye Bye Birdy.”
Campbell is looking to the future, however.
“I think my writing has grown a lot from my EP and from the record...there will be some more depth on this next record.”
When asked if her new songs are more personal, she muses, “I’m not going to write a song that isn’t me or isn’t representative of my life and my story.”
Overtime, Campbell has amassed a steady following as she has toured relentlessly and gained some great exposure. Most recently, she was featured in a series of Stetson music videos, and was a featured songwriter at The Tin Pan South songwriter’s festival in Nashville, TN, alongside Daniel Ellsworth, Brad Paisley, and Jared Blake.
With a publishing deal, a tour, and a new record on the horizon, this is only the beginning of a bright future for Jessica Campbell.
Jessica Campbell - "Falling Falling"