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Jessica Lynn: Lynn It to Win It

As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 14 – New York-inspired (Dec. 2020)

Meet the fiercely independent Jessica Lynn, a New York-based country chanteuse who proves through hard work and blood, sweat, and tears that a one hundred percent DIY artist can still make waves—and a difference. The affable, family-oriented Lynn (who actually has several family members in her employ) is a proud supporter of the U.S. military and regularly participates in various humanitarian causes. With a strong sound and resemblance to country queen Shania Twain, Lynn has written with some of Nashville’s top writers, and her last single, “Crazy Idea,” even broke the Top 50 on American Country Radio.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Lynn hasn’t succumbed to the pandemic depression that so many have experienced during this tumultuous time. Instead, she’s hosting and performing for her own Christmas special and spearheading her own living room concert special, which airs on Public Television. We caught up with Lynn to talk about her favorite D’Angelico guitars and how she’s shifted her creative energies during the time of COVID.

You’re a multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, piano, harmonica, and drums. When you set out to write a new song, which instrument do you normally start hashing it out on?
I usually grab my guitar because it’s the easiest, or if it’s a big ballad, I might sit down at the piano. I am not the type of person who can sit down and say, “I am going to write a song.” I really need to feel the inspiration hit, and then I just go for whatever is closest, so I don’t miss the spark!

You’ve been a D’Angelico artist for a few years now. Which model do you feel most comfortable playing?
My acoustic is a Brooklyn model, and I’ve had it for so many years. It has been through a lot with me, and I am very attached to it. I have so many memories from around the world playing it, literally from Mexico to Poland, that it is just as much a part of the band as I am. I have such a level of comfort with their instruments. They’re so well-made with such beautiful designs and colors.

New York isn’t necessarily the first place I would think of when I think of country music. Have you found it harder to be a country artist there since it’s (from what I’ve always understood) very Broadway and jazz-oriented, or do you find that it actually gives you an edge in that there isn’t as much competition?
In the beginning, I would say that I had a lot of doors slammed in my face because I was “different,” but as you grow, you realize that being different is your greatest asset. It has set me apart from other artists and made me a stand out within my genre, not just because of where I come from, but because of my mentality and my different vibe and sound that came with it. Country music is now very popular in New York; however, the only time you would not have much competition is if you didn’t plan on leaving New York. I have very big dreams and goals for myself and have been competing on an international stage, far beyond the borders of New York state, which has an immense amount of competition and saturation.

In addition to being an international performer, you’re involved with many different humanitarian causes. In particular, you’ve done a lot of work with the U.S. military. How does it feel when you get a chance to play for all of those who have so bravely fought for our freedom?

I am hugely patriotic and grateful for all the men and women who have sacrificed so that I can live in this incredible country and enjoy the freedoms I have. To give back to them means the world. One of my favorite moments doing this was when we donated our time and played at the U.S. Military base in Wiesbaden, Germany, on the fourth of July last year. It was such a great time and what a way to celebrate.

Several members of your family accompany you each time you play. Your mom sings background vocals, your father plays bass, and your husband plays guitar in your band. What are some of the cool points and (ahem) pain points of playing with people so close to you?
Ha-ha! The best way I can describe this is that we have a very special bond because we get to experience some really amazing things together that truly make us a unique family. To get to travel around the world and not ever feel like we are far away from “home” is something not many families get to experience. We all get to see together someone in the crowd get emotional from a song or the funny person we met at this rest stop, etc. It’s amazing not to have to tell those stories after the fact and never quite relay them in the way it felt actually being there. It’s a feeling I can’t quite describe.

From what I’ve seen, many artists have either gotten really inspired during the pandemic, or they’ve (understandably) experienced a creative “drought” of sorts. You have been plugging away, doing weekly streaming concerts that have charted every week on Pollstar’s Livestream Chart, and you have a new TV special, Jessica Lynn – Live at Dramatic Hall. What has been keeping you going during this time? Have you found it’s been more difficult than before to find inspiration and motivation to continue forging forward?
I am not the type of person that will let something beat me up. It may be the hard-headed New York Italian in me that always wants to fight back! As soon as I lost my world tour, over eighty cities in over twelve different countries, I definitely cried for a few days and let myself feel the sadness of all my loss, but then I dusted my shoulders off, got back up, and decided to make the most of it. We immediately upgraded all our cameras and gear for better live streams, we turned what was supposed to be a six-song EP into my debut thirteen-song album to be released this upcoming year, and I amped up everything on my social media to where I am now reaching over sixteen million people a month. I have actually found it easier to find inspiration and motivation because, for me, that comes from pure and raw emotion, which this time has truly elicited within me.

Photos by Scott Vincent

You’ll be hosting and performing for your very own Christmas special again this year, which has been touted by the press as the “#1 Great Thing to do in The Hudson Valley for The Holidays.” This year’s show, however, will be live-streamed for the first time. How have you adapted it for this kind of viewing?
This show was a very hard loss for me this year. It has become such a tradition for us and so many families, with people even flying from overseas to come and see the show every year, that it was extremely heartbreaking when we found out we could not do it. Although it will not be the same huge spectacular it normally is, I feel very comfortable relying on the pure joy that Christmas music and cheer brings to people regardless. We are going to play all the classics with a great attitude and hopefully bring some happiness to people that truly need it, as well as all the kids we hope to raise money for with Toys for Tots.

 

Alexx Calise

Alexx Calise is an accomplished singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Perhaps best known for her hit song, “Cry,” which became a staple on the show “Dance Moms” and boasts millions of hits on YouTube, Calise’s raw emotion, heart-and soul-lyrics, and unmistakable vibrato have impacted thousands of young girls all over the world. Calise is currently working on new solo material and songs for licensing, and she recently released a new EP with another music project, Batfarm. In addition to her musical pursuits, she also works in public relations and marketing and owns her own party entertainment business. When not playing shows or writing music, she enjoys horror movies, exercising, or taking a well-deserved nap. alexxcalise.net

Alexx Calisehttps://alexxcalise.net
Alexx Calise is an accomplished singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Perhaps best known for her hit song, “Cry,” which became a staple on the show “Dance Moms” and boasts millions of hits on YouTube, Calise’s raw emotion, heart-and soul-lyrics, and unmistakable vibrato have impacted thousands of young girls all over the world. Calise is currently working on new solo material and songs for licensing, and she recently released a new EP with another music project, Batfarm. In addition to her musical pursuits, she also works in public relations and marketing and owns her own party entertainment business. When not playing shows or writing music, she enjoys horror movies, exercising, or taking a well-deserved nap. alexxcalise.net
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