Anyone who loves music to the point where a perfect night out has to involve a concert has been wishing on every star to return to a venue setting over the past year. That sentiment extends even more so to performers. To stand on a stage and sing again? Pure joy. A joy that Alyssa Jacey got to experience amidst the chaos in a well-organized live event where she recorded her new album, ‘Alyssa Jacey LIVE!,’ out March 26th. We talked about that one-of-a-kind-in-2020 experience, her charitable ways, and more in this back and forth exchange.
Kendra: It’s been over a decade since you recorded your debut. How do you feel you’ve grown as a songwriter and musician since then, and what’s one thing you’re working on when it comes to your artistry at the moment?
Alyssa Jacey: I have a much better understanding of how to, and why it’s important to write universal songs. So much of what I used to write was incredibly specific and very literally written. I still do that from time to time, but not for lack of knowing how to do it other ways. When I do it now, it’s more like a diary outlet. A lot of older songs, some recorded, some not were over four minutes long and I’ve learned the significance behind ‘don’t bore us, get to the chorus!’ I think the biggest way I’ve grown can be seen in songwriting.
Nashville pretty much forces you to level up in every way, shape, and form and for me, songwriting has been the biggest focal point. Now that I’ve written over 400 songs, and recorded/released over 100 of them, it’s so easy to tell the difference between the older songs vs the newer ones. Plus, working with the right producer is KEY. That’s another thing I’ve learned: work with the right producer, and when in the studio, always speak your mind. This is your art and it’s permanent, so be 100% sure you’re happy with it. I have co-produced every album I’ve released, but because I was so new to the business, I let many producers and engineers tell me what my sound should be.
Since I didn’t know any better, nor did I want to be insulting or come off like a diva, I let their opinions be the final decisions. But that all changed, starting with my 2014 album, ‘Destined.’ Lastly, I have always been multi-genre when it comes to what I create. However, I have fallen in love and become quite attached to writing raps into my pop songs. November of 2018, I wrote, “Love Is All You Need” which was later released in March of 2019. It has the first rap I ever recorded and I’ve since put raps into many of the songs I’ve written since then. In this business, it’s hard to stand out.
But through 15 years of branding myself and my fans (aka The Blue Crew) in blue, playing different instruments on my feet for the last eight years, while simultaneously playing acoustic guitar, the occasional harmonica, and singing, then adding rap – which no one expects to hear from a singer/songwriter – well, I’d like to think the combination of those things have helped!
Kendra: Recording a live record in front of an audience wasn’t out of the ordinary before last year because live music was one of the first joys we lost due to COVID. Did you feel a little emotionally overwhelmed when you first stepped out to a crowd to record ‘Alyssa Jacey LIVE!’ last September?
Alyssa Jacey: I had to stop myself from tearing up, twice. To see the turnout, everyone in blue, hearing them sing back, the standing ovation, oh my gosh, it was overwhelming, to say the least. I got in my car after the show, and before I drove away, I said out loud, “Thank you for this show, thank you, Universe, for this incredible evening, I am so grateful for all the people who came, thank you for this gift, thank you for this experience tonight, I am so grateful, I am so lucky, I am so blessed.”
Kendra: This live album features almost a dozen original tracks and a few covers. What was it about these specific songs that made you want to cover them? Were they regulars on your set?
Alyssa Jacey: “Come Together” was the first song I ever learned to play on the drums, in 2009. It was 2015 or so, when I was playing a 3-hour set at a hotel, and figured, “Hey. Why not learn to play this on guitar, but put my spin on it?” So, I started messing around and, at that moment, my bluesy version of one of the most well-known Beatles songs was born. It has been requested at countless shows since then! So, that’s why that one is on there.
Since 2011, I’ve been ending long sets with “Stand By Me.” Blue Crew fans know they can always rely on a kumbaya moment at the end of shows longer than an hour. And “Tennessee Whiskey” was recently added because I LOVE that style. I love slow, 6-8, blues songs like that, that have vocal runs drenched in soulful honey. I play it just barely different than the original; same everything except a couple of chord changes. Fans often request this version!
Kendra: I want to point out that a portion of the sale of this record will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association. How did you get involved with them nearly a decade ago?
Alyssa Jacey: When my grandma passed away from Alzheimer’s on February 3rd, 2005, which was one month after I started singing, I made a promise to myself right then and there that if I could ever afford to start giving back, I would do it through that charity.
My grandma and I had one of the most special, unique relationships. She meant everything to me and to this day, I still talk about her, brag about her, talk to her and miss her tremendously. After moving to Nashville, I immediately contacted the local Alzheimer’s chapter and started working with them. I’ve performed at their events to raise awareness and also either send them or the main Alzheimer’s Association a check every month with proceeds from ticket and merch sales. I also enjoy donating to other charities for 9/11, Red Cross, Feeding America, Breast Cancer, and more.
Kendra: It’s hard to have a definite answer when it comes to future plans given the current state of everything, but as far as what you can control when it comes to your career and creativity – what do you have planned in the coming months for yourself?
Alyssa Jacey: There are two surprises I’m working on behind the scenes that I’ll be announcing via my email list first, before anywhere else. For anyone who wants to become an official Blue Crew member, sign up for free here by clicking “Become a fan!” You’ll also get to watch videos, hear new music and get the low-down on everything going on before anyone else!
For now, I’m releasing a new video every other Sunday, which was recorded in September from the live show, and is exactly what you’ll hear on the album! I’m also signed to two modeling and acting agencies, so I have weekly commercials and other things I’m auditioning for. I’ll be in the first Honda generator commercial that comes out this year! I’ve recently signed with three sync licensing agencies, so look out for originals in TV shows, commercials, online ads, and movies!
I’m always songwriting and recording, so not only will I be releasing this live album but I already have two other singles recorded and ready to go this summer! One has a rap, and the other is a complete overhaul on my most popular, bluesy song off ‘Destined,’ called “Drowning Me,” which you can download and stream everywhere! I still choreograph for and dance in music videos, so I’ll be doing more of that and continuing to play live shows where I feel comfortable and safe!