“As a NY musician who wanted to do country music, I’ve always had a lot of nay-sayers,” said Jessica Lynn, Westchester native, and independent country music superstar. Jessica and her band, which includes her husband and both parents, just got back from a European summer tour and are taking a brief sojourn before their busy holiday schedule. Jessica Lynn’s A Very Merry Country Christmas has become a local staple, and has often been named at the top of must-see holiday events in the Hudson valley.
“The first few years I was thousands of dollars in debt,” said Jessica, who got the idea for financing her own show after opening for a John Denver tribute band Christmas show years ago. She bought snow machines and created props for the stage, aiming to create an experience that would rival something an audience would see at Radio City. The Christmas show puts a colorful spin on classic Christmas hits, with Jessica’s trademark country impresario sound and showmanship. “Now we’re almost sold-out for the Paramount Theater this year,” said Jessica.
Thinking Outside the Box
“I’ve always looked for ways to think outside the box, and to bring art and music to people in a way that’s not expected. The Christmas show has been an amazing way to work with different creative people in each city, and to use my imagination in a way that I couldn’t in a regular show.”
Jessica started her first band at 13. “We weren’t country, we were more like No Doubt meets Bowling for Soup,” joked Jessica. But country music was always on in the house when she was growing up and attending Lakeland High School in Yorktown Heights. “It was New York, so I could never tell my friends what I was listening to!”
Jessica and her band played venues all over New York City like The Bitter End, and came close to a record deal when she was 16, but at the end of the day, she was the only member of the band who wanted to commit full time to a music career and the band fell apart. She tried for years to bring them back together or to find new musicians, but, “I was never able to recapture the magic. Those were my childhood best friends,” Jessica said.
Keeping the Faith
Jessica ended up going to college for math and special education, where she met her husband (and later lead guitar player). Something clicked in Jessica, who until this point had never written country music, and she began to write a full album of country songs after meeting him. “Do what you do, always have faith, always keep pushing forward, and the right people will find you,” said Jessica.
In that spirit, having little success playing by the rules in Nashville, Jessica maxed out every credit card she had to self-produce a television special that wound up playing nationwide on PBS. Jessica and the band recorded the tumultuous low-budget show in 2012, spent two years editing the sound, which was riddled with recording problems, then eventually sent it out to television stations in 2014, with little expectations other than to use it as Jessica’s video resume.
“Wyoming picked it up, Montana picked it up, Texas picked it up, and before you know it we were covering 90% of the markets,” said Jessica on the moment she created that effectively launched her career. Her band is even the same as it was on that difficult show back in 2012–save for her original guitarist who had been with her since her teen days, who ironically moved to Nashville for business and not music, and was replaced by Jessica’s husband.
“You know when you try to take a picture of a sunset but it never looks the same? That’s how I would describe having my family there with me for these huge moments. I don’t have to show them a picture,” said Jessica. She described an opening for country legend Richard Marx, who is her father’s favorite musician and the first concert act she ever saw at age five. Jessica, the youngest audience member there by far, even waved to Marx at the concert, and he noticed her and waved back.
A Career Takes Off
Flash forward and Jessica, her parents, her husband, and her drummer of over 10 years are opening for Marx, and Jessica spots him watching in the wings, giving her a thumbs up. “It was just so weird and emotional to be standing there with my parents who had listened to this guy for my whole life and took me to my very first concert to see him, and now there we were performing with him,” said Jessica.
Moments like these make Jessica’s entire career flash before her eyes. “When I walked out of a record exec’s office after I said no to a big contract, I wondered if it was the biggest mistake I’d ever make,” she said. “But you always need confidence in who you are as a unique individual. There’s literally only one you.”
Jessica Lynn and her band are touring the tri-state area with shows at the Jefferson Valley Mall in Yorktown and the Paramount Theater in Peekskill. Her single, Not Your Woman – The Sweetwater Sessions, which was recorded live upon invitation from the renowned musical instruments and audio company, and the accompanying music video are out now. Visit jessicalynnmusic.org