GET TO KNOW….: Jeanne Jolly
by Keya Maeesha
Genre bending artists like Jeanne Jolly get my ears tingling and my heart jumping. She’s one of those people that you love to love and love to hear sing and just SPEAK. Her accent?? BOMB. Her personality?? BOMB. Her music? BOMB. Like…I couldn’t ask for a better new friend (Yes..she is a new friend. She and I established that we are forever stuck together as long as she sings to me on record. LOL). The Raleigh, North Caroline native is more than just a pretty face. She is the everything and then some. With a strong team behind her, a new member of the Foreign Exchange Music Group, the spirit of her mother, and the love of her growing fan base, Jeanne is quickly becoming the shining star in a what may seem a clouded industry.
I had the opportunity to chat with the southern belle as she prepared for her tour. She is actually hitting the East Coast and I hope you guys get a chance to see her before she leaves. Check it out!!
Couch Sessions: It is such a pleasure to finally hear your voice!!! Thank you so much for taking the time out to chat, ladybug!
Jeanne Jolly: Aww thank you! You are so sweet! It is nice to finally talk to you too. Thanks for sitting with me.
CS: Absolutely! How is the tour prep going? You are all over the place, lady?
JJ: It is going amazing so far. We’ve been hitting a lot of small venues. The shows are really intimate and energizing. The show is all strings so it is really different. I’m enjoying it so far.
CS: Doing tours in intimate venues, do you find it is easier to engage with the audience as opposed to large stages or do you find yourself more nervous because it is so close and people can actually see your face?
JJ: Actually, it is a different kind of a show. I’m always a little nervous no matter WHERE I’m performing. I think that when you stop being nervous, you should just stop performing. If you aren’t a little bit nervous, then something might a little wrong with you (haha!). But I enjoy both settings. I think with this tour and the band, we are able to pull off both. Going through all of the cities, it is a new setting for all of us. The whole point of the tour is to meet new people and share with people. I like the intimate setting, though. I like to see faces. I can feel the exchange and the love, even through the darkness (haha!).
CS: Well that is good. Because honestly, there is no reason not to love you. You are kind of everything. And if anyone doesn’t agree, you can tell them that they can come and find me.
JJ: You know what, Keya? I will do that. You can keep them in line.
CS: I will just yell out “YOU AREN’T A JEANNE JOLLY FAN?? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU??” (Haha!)
CS: I do love intimate settings. It reminds me of the first time I actually got to see you. Although I haven’t had a chance to see you live, I do have the FE Dear Friends Live DVD. And when I saw you and heard you sing the “Laughing At Your Plans” with Phonte, I was like “her voice is so amazing”. I feel like that kind of setting made me appreciate you even more, especially as a person who wasn’t familiar with your music prior.
JJ: You know, I like the intimate settings as I said before. You are talking to folks like they are in your living room. I think in today’s time, people enjoy coming to the intimate settings. And especially with Dear Friends, it was my first time ever performing with the Foreign Exchange. It was actually really last minute (haha). Phonte asked me if I could come and sing “Laughing At Your Plans” and maybe the James Taylor tune with them. It just happened to be live (Haha!). I hopped on a plane from Memphis around 6am after being at a folk festival, showered up, drank a 5hr energy drink and was wondering to myself how I was going to do this. It did nothing. The drink did not work for the record (haha).
CS: I was going to ask if you if it really helped you.
JJ: I think it just made me jittery, to be honest. But what got me through it was the crowd. I believe that is what actually lead to them asking me to be a part of the group…that audience for Dear Friends. It was hands down an easy answer because my first entrance into their whole world was the live DVD taping. It was something I’ve never experienced before.
CS: So now that you are a part of the Foreign Exchange Music Group, how has it been working with them?
JJ: It is fantastic! You know, they are a wonderful group of people. We are on the road and everyone looks out for each other as family. Everyone is hilarious. All we do is laugh. When we are on the road, the two vans make fun of each other. Phonte and Nicolay are so supportive. We love doing what we do. And obviously what I do is completely different from what is known of FE. To them, good music is good music. So releasing Angels on their label came as a unique and unexpected blessing that we look at as a gift. We get to reach out to all of these fans who would probably never have heard of us. The response has been amazing so far.
CS: I am actually one of those people who you are talking about. And I’m telling you, I heard Angels and lost it. It was just that awesome. I was trying to figure out what genre I could put your voice in and I realize I couldn’t. So it goes in the genre called great because that is what it is. Just damn great. Just like I can’t put FE into a particular genre because they destroy that box with how versatile their music is, I would definitely say the same for you. I feel like your voice is just that magnificent.
JJ: Aww thank you! You never know how a song or a project is going to be received until it is out there. I was actually like “Can we get this out already?” because I wasn’t sleeping. Phonte called me two hours before it went on iTunes and was like “How ya feel?!”. I told him I felt like I could either run ten miles or pass out (haha!). It felt good to release it. But the responses have been great so far! I’m so blessed.
CS: I know that you started out as a background singer in the jazz arena before you moved into doing your own music. Did you find it difficult to transition from “background” to now being in the front and writing your own songs?
JJ: I find that I am more vulnerable. But the payback is ten fold. I would much rather be doing what I’m doing now. I appreciate where I started though because those gigs helped to provide a foundation for my music and where it is now. It provided me the opportunity to perform at venues that I would dream of as a little girl. So while they helped to develop me as an artist, I have always have this yearning and wanderlust to create my own music and my own lane. So when my mother got sick, it kind of propelled me to step out on my own. You know they say out of tragedy comes many blessings. If that had not happened, I don’t know where I would be today. I will say that it is more difficult being a band leader because it is all on you and you have to make sure that everyone is okay. From the fans to the band, you have a lot of people depending on you. I want to take really good care of my band. They deserve so much. My goal is to grow it. When I hear people clap or see someone singing the lyrics to a song I wrote, it is so much larger than I’ve ever imagined. I still can’t get over that feeling.
CS: I think that is what makes you so likeable and so loveable. You got the courage to actually make that step and it comes from your heart. You put yourself out there and people fall in love with you. It makes you an artist in my eyes as opposed to person who just sings.
JJ: Aww thank you! I should just carry you around with me because you are just so sweet.
CS: I try (haha!). I have one last question for you. And it is a loaded question and I ask it in every interview. You ready?
JJ: Yep! Shoot.
CS: Do you feel like as a singer/songwriter, you are able to tell when someone is being genuine in their music?
JJ: Oh yea! Mhmm! Absolutely!
JJ: I’ve always been able to tell that. Even when I was preforming other music. I can tell right away when an artist is putting up a wall between themselves and the audience. And the audience can tell when you aren’t singing from your heart. There are a lot of amazingly talented musicians out there in every genre. I can guarantee you that there are hundreds of artists that you probably will never hear and be able to experience because there is so much clutter to cut through. It is unfortunate that artists who want to share their hearts will might never be heard because they aren’t “packaged”. The packaging sometimes has less to do with the content and getting a lot of all the other stuff. I made a conscious decision to never be that person. And I do cover tunes. And I like to tip my hat to them. But I wouldn’t perform anything that I don’t feel or relate to. I just don’t have it in me. The other stuff wears me out. Haha.
CS: That is one of the most carefully crafted answers. I love that! I ask that because we, as fans, see it all the time. And it makes us feel different kinds of ways. It is refreshing to see artists who share themselves, like yourself, and are free to be genuine with their audience.
JJ: I wouldn’t have it any other way. I work on my songwriting every day. It comes from my heart. I have something new to learn everyday.
CS: Well, if you feel that way, then you are off to a very good start. I’m not really sure how much higher you can go because you are the bomb dot com to me, ma’am. Thank you so much sitting with me. It means a lot of me that you took the time out to chat. You don’t know me from a can of paint or a bundle of collard greens, so I’m really excited. I can’t wait to see you in NYC.
JJ: Thanks, lady!! I can’t wait to meet you too. And thank you to Couch Sessions for the opportunity.
Isn’t she dope? Say yes, because she is. I’m really excited for everything Jeanne has going on and we here at The Couch support her 110%. You should make sure you look out for her in a city near you. Also, make sure grab her music so you can become familiar with this angel. She is definitely one you should get to know.
Here are a few ways to keep in touch with Jeanne: