Singer-Songwriter Jaclyn Kenyon Discusses Finding Her Way as a Country Artist

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Singer and songwriter, twenty-year-old Jaclyn Kenyon, hails from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and now calls Nashville, Tennessee home, is known for her impeccable writing. She has written songs with some of the most sought out songwriters, including Liz Rodrigues, Joe Vitale, and Russ Irwin, to name only a few.  

Kenyon has worked with Taylor Swift’s producer Tom Jackson, and vocally with Brett Manning and Mama Jan Smith. In early February of this year, she released her single “Daddy’s Got a Shotgun,” and will release her EP soon. Guitar Girl Magazine chatted with Kenyon about her new single, becoming involved with Canada’s all-female showcase, “Honey Jam,” why she chose to pursue music in the country music genre, and much more.

Your single “Daddy’s Got a Shotgun” is about an overprotective father. Is that based on real-life experiences? 

No, it wasn’t based on a real-life experience, but it was based on me saying to my co-writers that “I’ll always be my dad’s little girl” when we were talking about how my parents felt about me being in Nashville alone. After we chatted about this, my co-writer blurted out “Daddy’s Got A Shotgun” we loved the idea right away and started to write the song. I love how it turned it. No matter what age you are, you will always be your dad’s little girl. I think a lot of girls can relate to this song.

You also have a music video for the single which features family members. Tell us about the filming of the music video.

The filming for the music video was so much fun. It was a two-day shoot in Paris, Ontario. It was actually two of the hottest days of the year as well! We were dumping ice buckets on the film crews’ head all day. The music video has my uncle as the overprotective dad! We had the best time with our friends and family putting everything together to make this music video happen. I’m super proud of it. My longtime friend Jordan Davies directed the video for me as well, and it was just so cool to have everyone close to me be a part of this special release.

You were one of the youngest performers in Canada’s all-female showcase “Honey Jam.” How did you get involved in that showcase?

My parents found the showcase for me at the time, and I really loved the idea and wanted to perform. I was the youngest artist on the stage. Because of my age, it brought a lot of media attention and exposure I didn’t prepare for. It was overwhelming, but it was so cool, and I knew right away this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It was such a natural feeling. Many opportunities started coming out of that showcase, but the best one was discovering my passion at such a young age.

Originally from Canada, when did you make the move to Nashville and how has that impacted your music?

I first went down to Nashville at 15, and I fell in love. I actually remember telling my parents I was going to move there one day. When my career brought me to LA at the time to work on a record, I felt like something was missing. When I later went back to Nashville at 18 I knew right away it was where I belonged and my heart was there the entire time. I went on frequent trips and would stay by myself when I started feeling comfortable. My move has been gradual, and now that I’m there I’ve seen the benefits right away.

How old were you when you first became interested in music and what was your musical progression from that point, including when you first began playing guitar?

I was 12 when I first started putting music to my songs I wrote. I remember my dad helped me learn a few basic chords on the piano and I just wrote all the time after that. The piano was the first instrument I’ve ever played. When I got older, I started to get interested in the acoustic guitar. I loved the way it sounded, and it brought a whole different life to songwriting. I first picked up the guitar when I was around 15. I still go back and forth to piano and guitar. I love the way they both bring such different writing styles and emotions.

Were your parents supportive of your musical interests?

Very supportive! I’ve been extremely blessed to have two amazing parents who have always done anything to help me succeed and follow my dream. I truly mean that. They have never once not supported me or helped me get to where I’ve wanted to go. My dad has always sung and played piano with me as well when I was younger, and I always grew up in a musical home. They have been there since the beginning.

Were you writing music at this point and, if so, what inspired your music?

I was! I wrote my very first song when I was 12 years old. It was about Jesus.  I would take scripture out of my bible and try and make music to it. So I guess you can say I kinda copy wrote the bible at that age! As I was growing up and going through different stages of my life, I would write all kinds of music. When I first got my heart broken, that opened a whole new door to music for me, as well, because I never experienced anything like that before and it made me connect to all my songs in such a deeper way. So many people thought my parents wrote my songs because they were so deep at such a young age but I think I just found a really amazing place in my heart to find inspiration from after that experience, and I felt like I could relate to so many more people with what I had to say.

When was it that you decided that you wanted to pursue music as a career?

After “Honey Jam” was when I knew I needed to do this for the rest of my life. I always had a feeling before that though. I knew I was supposed to do this at a young age and it was always in the back of my mind, but I didn’t take it seriously until after “Honey Jam.”

I read where people have asked you to sing different styles or to lose your ‘country twang.’ Do you feel you have found your voice and style and who you are as an artist?

Yes, I have never felt so genuine with this record and with myself in general. I have found my heart in country music, and it’s been who I was all along. It’s a lifestyle. It’s more than just a genre it’s who I am.

Why country music?

It just made sense. I’m a huge lover of music and growing up I would listen and sing all different kinds of music, but I didn’t know who I wanted to be. When this natural country twang kept coming out in my voice, and I discovered it, I didn’t understand at the time why I had it in all the styles I tried singing. When I made the move to Nashville and started working with my producer and writing, I felt like it was who I was all along. It was such a cool realization to be like, ‘Yup, this makes sense. This is what I’ve been searching for, and I found it.’

What’s your songwriting process? 

Usually, when I’m writing on my own, I will go outside or in my room and get in the zone. I dig into my heart and write down all the things I’m feeling or thinking to start getting inspired. Once I have an idea I usually pick a title first and then start playing chords to find a cool melody! Then the lyrics come, and I make a song! But the process is always different; it’s never the same. Even with my co-writers. Sometimes it starts as a musical idea, sometimes it’s a lyrical idea, and sometimes it’s absolutely nothing, and you start from scratch.

Are you currently co-writing?

I am currently writing on my own. I was co-writing a lot for my album, but now that it is finished, I am doing a lot on my own. I really love just being able to dive into my own heart sometimes and it’s such an amazing feeling.

Who are some of the artists that inspire you?

I really love Shania Twain; she has always inspired me. I listened to her when I was a little girl, and I always thought she was so unique. Surprisingly enough because he’s not country at all, but I have always loved Michael Jackson, he has this aura about him that intrigued so many people. He could stand still on a stage and not say anything, and people would freak out. He always found a way to keep people watching when he performed. There was never a dull moment. His style was also very cool; I loved how he always looked so out of the normal. I know it’s such a weird combination of inspiring artists to me, but I also think they both have something that is comparable. They were both unique, came out at a time where no one was doing what they were doing, and they are legendary. They changed the industry.  I love uniqueness; it inspires me.

What sort of challenges, if any, have you faced in your musical career and how did you overcome them?

I’ve gone through many challenges in my musical career. There was the challenge of not being able to find me as an artist for a while. I just loved ALL styles of music and loved singing anything. When I made my first album in LA and they asked me what I wanted on my album, I was so unprepared to answer that because I realized I hadn’t found who I was yet. I overcame this by soul searching and writing music by myself until it all started to sound the same. This natural country sound was coming out and that’s what lead my heart down to Nashville for this album. It’s the best feeling to be able to find out who you are and what you want to say as an artist and work with a team who can get into your heart and pull out an amazing album. I also think just the challenge of rejection. There were so many times people that had said, ‘You’re not ready yet’ and it hurt me at the time. Looking back, I see how I truly wasn’t ready at all, and I was so young, but when you’re younger that really sticks with you, and you don’t think you’re good enough. I think the best way I dealt with this was I NEVER quit. I always knew I was supposed to do music deep in my heart and I never stopped. There was never a plan B. The best lesson I learned along the way was the people who have passion will always tag along. And I’ve been reminded of that constantly with my team around me. There is so much love and support, it’s so amazing.

Any advice you would like to offer to other young artists just starting their musical journey?

I would always say to stick to your gut always; if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Also, don’t be a copy of someone else and really learn who you are as an artist and what you want to say. In my experience, so many people had asked me what my style and sound is and what makes me different. I didn’t know those answers at such a young age because I just liked all kinds of music. So, I think the best advice I could give is to find out who YOU are as an artist and person so you can be confident in moving forward in your career.

Tell us about your guitars. I know you have a custom Loucin Guitar.

I have three guitars! They all sound different to me. I have one black and white acoustic Fender guitar and I have a tan Guild acoustic guitar! And yes I do! I am obsessed with her – “Sandy.” I was so excited to design this guitar. My favorite wood is Hawaiian Koa, and I’ve always wanted a guitar with this wood, so it’s so unreal to have! It has a customized logo on the fretboard. It has a J, a treble clef, and a cross all meshed into one. It is so special to me.

You’re working on an EP. Do you have a release date yet?

We have all the songs done, but we do not have a release day yet. It’s all timing but it will be out soon.

Five Fun Facts

Favorite restaurant in Nashville:

Edley’s buffalo chicken sandwich is amazing!

One album you cannot live without:

Shania Twain: Come On Over

One thing fans don’t know about me:

I really don’t like going to the movie theatre. I mean, I will if I have to, but I would rather watch movies from home; it’s more comfortable to me.

First concert ever attended:

I went to a Britney Spears when I was younger.

In one word, music to me is:

Life

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