Jill Pavel: Thriving in the Music Industry

Photo by Bonnie Dymond

As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 18 Winter 2021

Jill Pavel is a self-made female entrepreneur hailing from South Plainfield, New Jersey. Pavel started her journey in the music industry in 2013 with her best foot forward and never looked back. She has found phenomenal success in artist development and management, public relations, A&R, and record label services, all while holding her own and being the CEO and founder of two major independent companies—Publicity Nation PR and Heart Songs Records (soon to be Heart Songs Music Group). 

Pavel manages The Highway Women (consisting of Alyssa Scott, Jenane, and Gabrielle Vaughn), as well as viral Tik Tok sensation, actor, musician, and autism awareness advocate Cory Singer. Pavel’s companies also focus on female empowerment and are predominately female-led and operated. She prides herself on this aspect of her career and always intends to give back to females in entertainment. 

Pavel is a true renaissance woman and a “jack of all trades”–her work ethic and drive inspire many others, and her attitude, passion, and hustle are admirable.

How did you get your start in the music industry? Tell us about your journey. 

I call myself an accidental tourist. In 2013, my son auditioned for a television singing competition on BRAVO. He went on to win, and there we were six months later, receiving music industry contractual offers. I knew nothing about the music industry. My son was a musical theater kid growing up, doing community and professional theater. I hired an attorney to review the contracts and found myself absolutely lost. He suggested that I take an internship in the music industry, and that is where I got my start. 

I was working for a digital distribution company based outside of Philadelphia. I immediately jumped in with both feet, and they asked me to start doing A&R in the country music genre. At the same time, I started an indie label dedicated to giving the distribution sales royalties to Veteran Organizations. I was immediately drawn into the music industry. I enjoyed working with the artists in the promotional and development realm. 

I started my second label, Heart Songs Records, and shortly thereafter, I partnered with a music magazine and ultimately took ownership of the magazine Music Update Central. We cater to all genres of music with a heavy influence in country, pop, rock, and Americana/roots music. I grew with the knowledge and experience I gained—Rome was not built in a day. I eventually started my public relations firm, Publicity Nation, in 2019 and am managing two artists exclusively, The Highway Women and Cory Singer. 

What is it like to be a woman and the sole owner of major independent companies, the founder and CEO of a female empowerment collaborative, and managing an up-and-coming all-female group? (Heart Songs Records, Publicity Nation, and The Highway Women) 

It is not for the faint-hearted! I am a busy lady, but I thrive in this industry. I think it is important to remain humble, be open to learn from your own mistakes, and most importantly, be a boss. I have a team of professionals that shine right beside me daily. I love the different aspects of this industry, so I always had the mindset to work toward all my passions. I really do not look back other than to reflect on how far I have come and how far I want to continue growing my businesses. 

Tell me about the Highway Women. What has that process been like for you as a manager? There has been a continuing turnover in the roster, and yet you have continued to keep it moving forward.  

Managing and developing one artist is a 36 hour a day job. Managing and developing a group–well, that is at least a 48 hour a day job. Many people do not understand the process of development. For me, I was willing to invest in the process of redevelopment since 2017 when I bought the label from the former owner, who passed away this year. When Jimmy sold me the label, I was honored that he would entrust his vision to me. For that reason alone, I am very determined to keep this passion project of mine alive and moving forward. In a few months, the world will meet the music of the all-new Highway Women. I am literally leaving their country roots behind and taking them into cross genres of music. They are that talented. Some things in life cannot be rushed. I have always trusted myself in the process of developing this group. Greatness is worth the wait and the hard work. 

Who has been your biggest inspiration throughout your career? 

Jimmy Parman. He believed in me. He trusted me. He respected me. I will always honor his memory by celebrating success on the heels of hard work. 

What is the best advice anyone in the music industry has ever given you?

Smile. Trust yourself. Don’t worry about what others think about you. You do you because you are more than enough. That is the same advice I give to the artists and employees that I am blessed to work with daily.

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Gabbi Calvert is a writer, publicist, and artist from Findlay, Ohio who now resides in Nashville, TN. Gabbi is incredibly passionate about all things pop culture, but her forever love is music. Following her passion for entertainment and music, she graduated from Belmont University in April of 2021 with a B.S. in Creative and Entertainment Industries with a minor in music business. Her academic endeavors led her to find a home working in music public relations and she is now a senior publicist at Publicity Nation PR. Not only does Gabbi work and thrive in the music industry, she is also a musical artist herself. She began singing and playing gigs at the age of 12 in her hometown and has an extensive background in performance. Under her stage name Gabrielle Vaughn, she has released two singles. Gabbi is also a member of the all-female cross-genre supergroup The Highway Women. In her free time, Gabbi loves spending time with friends and family, attending drag shows, and bonding with her two guinea pigs Queenie and Peach, and her cat Mitzi.