Soulful singer Jessica Childress is about to drop her latest single, “Far Away,” and it may just end up on your personal playlist.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, this funky and down-to-earth songstress was once a classically trained singer, turned public relations executive, and then finally took a shot at making singing her full-time career.
After quitting her full-time job in public relations, a short time later Childress found herself on national TV, as she competed on season 4 of NBC’s "The Voice." Although this booming-voiced singer did not win the title on the show, Childress finally found her voice and her home onstage.
AXS: Tell us how you came from the professional world of public affairs to singing.
Jessica Childress: I’m a late bloomer, I never pursued music as a career until 2012 when my then fiancé, now husband, lit a fire under me to quit my job and take a shot at a career in singing. So, I did just that.
AXS: How did the experience of the "Voice" change you as a singer?
JC: It’s such a huge stage to walk onto your first foray into music. What it did was give me so much confidence that I was able to perform at that kind of level. It has really set the path for my career.
AXS: Since you were just starting out in music, why in the world did you choose "The Voice"?
JC: That was a crazy whirlwind. I quit my job on Wednesday, got married a few weeks later, and shortly after that "The Voice" called me to audition. I didn’t even know how to audition. I went in, played original music that nobody had heard of, then all of sudden I’m on the show. It was a whole big life shift.
AXS: How did "The Voice" help your newly found stage presence?
JC: I definitely discovered through the process of being on the show, that performing onstage is where I feel most comfortable. Getting on the stage just became such a comfortable home for me.
JC: "Far Away" represents me breaking out, having a lot more fun, doing something that reflects my personality. Lyrically it’s a happy capture of my journey of being far away from mundane things in life. My faraway place is on stage and writing.
AXS: How is your new album sounding so far?
JC: When I walked into the studio I had this vision of a soul, almost disco album, with a production that was really stripped down, really raw and indie sounding, really in your face. I think we nailed a sound that is my personal take on soul and disco music – which I think is unique in this market.
AXS: Who were you listening to as a kid and young singer?
JC: I listened to a lot of old jazz like Etta (James), Ella (Fitzgerald) and Nina Simone. When I discovered Nina Simone, that was a huge moment of wow, that’s a voice, that’s an attitude. I also love Brandy, will always be a Brandy fan for life.
AXS: Being a native Angeleno, do you think Los Angeles can be an easier or harder city to carve out a singing career?
JC: I think L.A. is really, really hard because this is where the most talented singers come to make it. To stand out amongst so many talented people is hard to do. The only way to stay with it, is to know the music you make is the music you make, and you learn as much as you can and you gotta love the process. Having people from a very jaded L.A. market come see your show is a huge win for an independent artist.
AXS: Do you have any strange rituals before you go on stage?
JC: I do, they're so weird! I eat a honey crisp apple, usually on the way to a gig. I do a weird tongue out vocal warm up. I also try and take a few minutes to sit by myself to go over my lyrics, even though I wrote all the songs. When I get excited, the lyrics fall out of my brain.