JessLee is a strong, inspirational woman and a singer who spreads positivity and changes the world one song at a time. You know her from “The Voice” Season 14 where she stole the hearts of celebrity judges Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson. Having signed both a publishing deal and a development deal with MMG in early 2019, JessLee found herself in the studio with two-time Grammy nominated producer Brad Hill working on her label debut single “Over Him.” Her single and music video will be releasing in early summer 2019.
Cultured Focus Magazine did an EXCLUSIVE interview with JessLee to learn more about her upcoming single, her music career and her program S.T.R.O.N.G. She started the program in early 2018, where she visits schools and talks to children about self-love.
CF: Tell me about S.T.R.O.N.G. What inspired you to start the program and how has it been going so far?
JL: I talk to kids about being strong mentally, physically and spiritually. Overall, the program is teaching students at a young age how to love themselves. Talking about my story allows them to be vulnerable. We laugh and cry and share stories. I call it a movement. I go in and sing songs and use my talents and what I love most and talk to the students and how they can find their passions. So far it has been as young as second grade and as high as senior year in high school. The goal is to open it to adults as well. To know that I am able to do what I love and inspire others is what this is all about. Life without a purpose is stale and meaningless.
CF: What inspired you to become a singer?
JL: It runs in my family. My grandfather was a classical violinist and my two sisters are also musicians. It is in my blood. I was pulled away from it for a while. I was taking the safe route. For the longest time, I went to school and did music as a hobby. I was unhappy. I wanted to be onstage again. My sister and I decided to go to Disney one day and they were doing the American Idol experience. I ended up winning it. I was in my early twenties and crying. Little actions lead to bigger opportunities. My first show with my own music sold out. I put the music video “Burn Out” and the video went viral. “The Voice” found the video and it all went from there. Music has always been there but got lost for a little while and it lead me back to my purpose. Now I am willing to put the work and do it.
CF: Tell me about your new single “Over Him.” What inspired you to write the song?
JL: It ties with the women empowerment message. It is about a girl telling another girl to get over him. It is from my point of view talking to a friend or a sister. I am looking from the outside and it is not healthy and you need to get over him. It is a super fun song and a total country pop song. It is something that is super relatable and you will feel totally good about it and empowered. It will be coming out in early summer around June.
CF: Is there a new album coming out soon and a tour?
JL: Future album - it is currently recorded and will come out by the end of this year. The tour will be sometime between June to September.
CF: Do your songs reflect the different stages of life you and if so what are they?
JL: My songs are a representation of my life experiences and who I am. As I grow the topics do change and evolve as I evolve. One of the biggest things that evolve is trying to be vocal about loving yourself. I am all about women empowerment.
CF: Tell me about the relationship you had with your father as a key in your women empowerment movement.
JL: It is the reason of who I am today and a huge part in what inspired the S.T.R.O.N.G program. My father was physically and mentally abusive. He was respected by so many in his branch but when he came home he had his demons and he took them out on me and my mom. I went through a dark time. It was the reason why I had a bad relationship with food and self-esteem issues, being put down physically and mentally by my father. In my early teens my mom decided to find a way out of this relationship. It was out of fear. It inspired me to be the person I am today and where the woman empowerment comes from. I am a strong independent woman now but I went through a rebellious path. I experimented with drinking and partying at a young age and I made mistakes. You have to wake up and you can't judge who you are based on your past. One day I realized, I am not my past and I am not my father. If I can't love myself properly, I can't attract the right person. I was alone for a while and I chose to work on myself. Once I started changing what was inside of me, the physical parts started changing, and I started attracting better people because I was treating myself with respect. We are here to grow and it is a journey.
CF: Tell me about your experience on The Voice. What did you learn and how did it help
change your life?
JL: I didn't expect the show to come to me. They called me and I skipped so much of the initial round of the show. I didn't have time to come up with expectations. As soon as I got on the plane to LA it all happened so fast. I got to make great connections and I gained another sense of self-confidence. I was already doing a lot before the show and I had to cancel a lot of my stuff to do the show. I tried to utilize all the momentum as much as possible.
CF: Why did you choose Blake as your coach?
JL: I thought Blake will know and understand who I am. I had two people turn for me and both of the people were with the most country experience. Blake said to me you are a country rock artist and he already knew who I wanted to be. He is a great person and a great coach.
CF: Why did you choose country music?
JL: They compare me to Avril Lavigne but I like to country music because it has been something I grew up on and I always loved the story telling of it and the lyrics.
CF: Who are your musical influences?
JL: I love Christina Aguilera. I would have picked her if she was in that season of “The Voice.” I also love Celine Dion. These are the people who inspire me. In country music, I love Eric Church and Brett Keisel.
CF: You also love fitness. Fitness and music seem like a very unique and yet such a natural combination. How do you combine both?
JL: They go hand in hand. My life is very intertwined. In 2015, I was competing in fitness competitions. I developed a mindset to train hard. I don't see myself competing again. It was my boot camp in life. I got to 8 percent body fat but after time this is so detrimental to the body. I promote health now. Your physical health ties to your mental and spiritual health. If you don't look good you don't feel good. I use it as my meditative practice and to work on myself and invest in myself.
CF: You are also passionate about guns and helping veterans. Why is that?
JL: I love the vets. I really believe without them we wouldn't have our freedom. I always try to give back to them. My father was a veteran and a major in the army. I grew up comfortable around guns. I have been shooting as a little girl. I am a big believer that guns are just a tool something to have and own. What matters is the people who are holding them. With the current school shootings, I truly believe the people who are doing this crime are doing it because of a lack of love. It's not what you are holding - you can hurt someone with a knife - it is your intention. I love to shoot and I go to the range and I do not hurt anybody. I am a country girl and I love shooting guns.
CF: Self-love is an often talked about topic but it is not easy to achieve. How do you practice and apply self-love?
JL: My message is just be you. The biggest thing is to be cognizance of comparison. What looks like a perfect life is not real. Focus on you. Every second you look back you are taking time away. You start to care less what people think when you focus on what makes you happy. I got into fitness because I used to be over 200 pounds. I was doing everything wrong. I really believe that although sometimes you treat yourself with food and live a carefree lifestyle, you live a glutinous lifestyle. It is much more fun when you are not doing it all of the time. I started having more balance in my life. It's all about changing little things. It was a 3-4 year process to where I am now and how I feel about myself now. I still have days where I feel I am not enough. If you are not growing you will not feel fulfilled.
CF: Tell me about your new Boots and Hoes fashion brand?
JL: It is totally inspired by the film “Step Brothers.” My boyfriend and I were watching it one day and I thought to myself if we can create this logo brand with cowboy boots and a sexy girl; then we created this brand for farmers and the country crowd. It is our take on chill everyday casual lifestyle brand. I started it five months ago so there is more coming.