31 Days of Women: Jesslee

Credit: Dieter Spears

Editor’s Note: In celebration of Women’s History Month, You Sing I Write is highlighting female country artists and songwriters throughout March.

During a year of much uncertainty, Jesslee turned to music. Her 21 Jump Start EP, out today, has the Florida native covering uplifting songs by Miley Cyrus (“The Climb”), Rachel Platten (“Fight Song”) and Katy Perry (“Rise)” as a way to give hope to listeners.

“Although making music is an outlet for me as a human being, this record is not about me,” she says. “It is about YOU, it is about anyone that needs a little kick in the pants to know that no matter what we face as human beings we have the power to rise and overcome. We are stronger than we think and sometimes just need a little motivation and love to see exactly how strong we are.”

21 Jump Start has Jesslee showcasing her vocal prowess, further demonstrating why Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson both turned their chairs for the singer when she competed on Season 14 of “The Voice.” While the project has Jesslee reinventing several pop hits, she manages to put a unique spin on each while her vocal runs impress.

In addition to three cover songs, Jesslee offers a powerful original with opening track “Strong.” On “Strong,” Jesslee urges listeners not to compete with others and instead to embrace their uniqueness. “You know you don’t need their approval to be who you want to be,” she sings.

The track embodies the message of her 501C, The S.T.R.O.N.G. Program, which teaches children throughout their teens to be confident in mind, body and spirit. An anthem for women everywhere, especially during Women’s History Month, “Strong” has Jesslee sharing her light with others.

Listen to 21 Jump Start on Spotify below. 21 Jump Start is available on all streaming platforms here.

Concert Reviews

Luke Bryan Brings the Party to Mexico with Crash My Playa 2017

A photo posted by Annie Reuter (@yousingiwrite) on

It’s hard to believe exactly one week ago I was soaking up the sun and on a beach covering a music festival in Mexico! I was lucky enough to be asked back to cover Luke Bryan’s third annual Crash My Playa festival in Mexico this past weekend for Sounds Like Nashville. For four days, nearly 60,000 country music fans flew to Mexico to witness country music in a picturesque setting. Hosted by Bryan, each day included poolside concerts and nightly performances on the beach at the Barceló resort in Riviera Maya.

While each night boasted a new headliner — Little Big Town, Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton — Saturday night was the most memorable evening as Shelton had an hour-long encore where many of his famous friends made a surprise appearance.

“It’s 11:06. I think that’s time to rock,” Shelton said after performing “Footloose,” his first song during the encore. Moments later girlfriend Gwen Stefani ran onto the stage for a high intensity one-song set of No Doubt’s “Hella Good” where she had everyone jumping on her command.

“Holy! That’s Gwen Stefani for real,” Shelton said after Stefani left, blowing him a kiss. “That’s gonna cost Luke. We are in overtime so we can do whatever the hell we want. I’m tired of my own songs. I want to play other people’s songs. Let’s see what happens.”

Shelton’s band then became the karaoke bar band for the remainder of the evening. As the familiar opening riff from George Strait’s “All My Ex’s Live In Texas” was played Bryan entered the stage to join in on the fun. Several minutes later Little Big Town made their appearance to assist on Restless Heart’s “The Bluest Eyes in Texas” where they stayed for the remainder of the night.

Drinks in hand for each singer, the country stars and friends then performed covers of Rhett Akins’ “That Ain’t My Truck,” Billy Joel’s “My Life,” Mel McDaniel’s “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On,” Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon,” The Bellamy Brothers’ “If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body,” Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Pina Colada Song),” Hank Jr.‘s “Family Tradition,” Dwight Yoakam’s “Guitars, Cadillacs” and Garth Brooks’ “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old).” It was an epic end to Shelton’s previous 90-minute set.

Throughout the weekend I had the pleasure of chatting with Dustin Lynch, Old Dominion, Brothers Osborne, Brooke Eden and Adam Craig. Stay tuned for my interviews and to read each nightly recap, visit Sounds Like Nashville.

Concert Reviews

Blake Shelton Shuts Down Music Row

Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton has come a long way since 1994. In the ’90s, the then-mullet-wearing singer would drive past Music Row in hopes that one day he’d have a record deal. Wednesday, (Sept. 23) thousands of fans flocked to that very same spot to catch a free concert by the singer—a fact that was not lost on him.

“I have been coming back and forth to this town since 1994,” he told the crowd on a stage set up outside of Warner Music Nashville’s offices for the label’s final Pickin’ on the Patio performance of the season. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d see this street blocked off and watch this many people sing along to my songs.”

For nearly an hour, Blake and his band performed for the crowd. While the show didn’t start until after 6 p.m., fans had been lining up for hours, some fainting in the hot Nashville sun as they waited for the singer to take the stage.

“Well, holy hell. I am shocked and honored that this many people came out to see me today,” he said two songs into his set. “Look at all these people. There are country music freaks out here!”

Before he began to perform “Mine Would Be You,” he informed the crowd that many of the songwriters behind his hits were in the audience. He added, “Welcome to Nashville. This is country music.”

For my complete review, visit Nash Country Weekly.


Tony Lucca On Blake Shelton: “He’s The Most Hands On”

(credit: Mike Mojica‎)

Two years ago I went to City Winery to see one of my favorite singer-songwriters Tyrone Wells. A soulful and comical artist named Tony Lucca opened the show and a year later I learned he was competing on The Voice. That experience just goes to show that you never know who you’ll see at a live show or where their career will take them. And if you’re anything like me, that’s the best part. To catch an artist in the early stages and a few years later be able to say, “I saw them when…”

Just last month I interviewed Tony for CBS Local and he filled me in on what happened behind-the-scenes on The Voice and what we can expect from his upcoming album due out next year. He also revealed that he sometimes wonders what it would have been like if Blake Shelton was his coach instead of Adam Levine.

“If Adam hadn’t turned around I was hoping that maybe Blake would have,” Tony confessed. “Certainly in hindsight, knowing how he is with his team, not to blow anyone’s cover but he’s the most hands on with his team. He’s very giving. He’s into the camaraderie. He loves the gig. He loves being a coach and being involved in these young artists’ lives.”

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For my complete article, visit CBS Local.