by Katharine W. Poole
For Women of Music Music of Women
A pint sized powerhouse of festivity and fun, with a lilting lyrical voice filled with laughter and love for each moment. That may be the nutshell description of Jill Kinsey. And yet, there is so much more to who she is and where she’s been.
Her music takes you on a journey like no other – a fast paced trip through her world a Slow Train ride to a place where everything will Be Alright. Ask Jill what the world she’s living in is like and she shines. “My World… it’s becoming a positive better version of who I was the day before, holding people in my soul group, showing up every day, smiling, loving – grounded.”
Originally from Texas, Jill Kinsey’s home base since 2010 has been Nashville, “Though I’m never home,” she adds “due to touring.” This common theme of female artists is this traveling musician’s mantra. She moved to Nashville because it was her dream town, she had always wanted to live here. “Plus I had a great management team at the time who encouraged me to make the move.” That management team was: Carter and Company. They believed in Jill and for this she is forever grateful. They brought her here and Nashville resonated with her as the place to fulfill her dreams.
“I was 23 years old when I drove myself from Texas to live in Nashville. My first impression was…freedom! It felt like a place where I could become me…whatever that meant.” To Jill, Nashville felt like a small big city. “There was not much glitz and glamour beyond Manuel’s rhinestone suits and the Grand Ole Opry. Downtown/Lower Broad was a scandal waiting to happen. Music row was not much safer and Midtown consisted of the Longhorn Steakhouse, JJ’s Market, Noshville, and Mario’s…I think Blue Bar was called Atlantis during that era.” She reminisces. “When the Tin Roof opened on Demonbruen it changed the face of the Nashville lifestyle.” Jill has seen the facelift of this town in action and for her it is bittersweet. “I wish there were a way for the city to simply add to, instead of continuing to remove, history.”
When she arrived in town Jill had lost interest in the project that brought her here. “[It] was going to involve a developmental deal with a major label. I dove face first into the Nashville scene and was as active as anyone until I sobered/woke up in 2010. I took a breather from hosting and playing shows all the time and simply wrote songs, read about metaphysics, and learned how to love myself better.” As a young artist Jill was swallowed up by the intense partying culture and the exhausting nature of working long hours. She is candid and open when discussing her experience of those days. “It can help others.” She points out with grace and awareness. “For me it was one big distraction. I was an introvert – except when I drank – I became this sparkling person. Then no one cared if I could write, or even sing for that matter.” Her epiphany came at the end of an unintentional break. “I was standing in kitchen and I realized I wasn’t hung over. I had not been for three weeks. I thought, I wonder how long I could do this for?” So she just did. She quit. That was six years ago and she has never looked back. “My voice came back – on so many levels.” Everything changed for Jill. “I worked at 12th and porter, when it was the original.” Long hours and late nights, early mornings led to rough habits. But then Jill chose -“…to listen and learn from people. I took total control of life here and started waking up each day. Slowly but surely I got back out there on the road and have been going strong.” My goals when moving to town were to write and sing and become my highest self. I have most certainly found the best version of myself.”
In the face of adversity Jill chooses a positive path. The pain of losing people close to her has influenced her journey. “My mother passed away, and as I was looking at her grave I thought – where did she go? I’ve been looking for her ever since.” Jill is a reflective observer who sees beyond the concrete of every day life. “This is not all there is. My real mission is to help everybody see and know that pain passes, go beyond the fear.” Her new album, Just Jill is what she describes as: “a mix tape of everything I really enjoyed and everything I road tested across the country.” She laughs commenting that she is often surprised by what others want to hear. Give it to Me she describes as a risqué track. She did not plan to include it on the album. It was only by chance, hanging in a Yurt in Missouri, she discovered that people of all generations could relate to the song. It made the cut. “I had to be brave about it. It’s always the one I don’t think I should do – my least favorite – and they tell me it’s their favorite. I’m just the vessel. Thankfully I’m aware its not mine.” Jill writes to speak to others.
Her love for Nashville runs deep, musically and in the spirit of community. “I feel at total peace in my sweet little house in East Nashville. My amazing community is one for the books, so many lives all thriving and creative. My happy neighborhood is buzzing with new energy, and people are embracing being different and doing their own thing. There is room for everybody, especially when we are being our authentic selves and living a life of integrity.”
Jill is an activist for herself and other musicians. “I have been involved in many residencies – I am currently involved the Last Honky Tonk Music Series – a nation wide roots music movement taking place in selected music venues across the country, in honor of the late great Wayne Mills. The series is named after Mills’s final album. Our motto: SAVC – Sustaining Artists, Venues, and Communities..” The goal is to bring authentic live music to towns and cities everywhere, sharing the works and beliefs of *Wayne Mills, who always went above and beyond to support other artists. The tears are hard to hold back when Jill speaks of her dear friend, and she lets them go though she notes she did not realize she would cry.
Jill and Mr. Mills shared band members, friends and stages together. “He was a great person and a dear friend. He recorded my song That’s What Dancers do and it charted over seas. In the later days he said: Come on down to the Boondocks, this new bar – I couldn’t figure to why were going there, knowing Chris [the owner], but Wayne said: ‘He put all of his savings into the bar, we need to support him – that’s what we do.’” They started a weekly gig entitled Outlaw Rising with a rotation of musicians playing. Those who were in town on a break from touring would meet up to provide entertainment for the establishment. Unfortunately this good deed ended in tragedy. Jill feels blessed to have known and worked with Mill’s and equally as blessed to be a part of his living legacy created by Bridgette London and her sister Laurie Harrison who are the forerunners of the project.
Jill is a truly immersed and extremely busy artist. “My typical day really depends on what time of year it is, whether I am home or touring.” When in Nashville, Jill spends her time writing and rehearsing. “I sometimes co-write with others but these days I am doing more solo writing. I rehearse with my band at least three times a week. We all write together and play board games a lot. These guys are my family and we have a great respect for one another.” On the road it is a different story. Out of their routine it varies, but Jill is quick to point out the perks of touring. “When we have down time we try and rest. If we are rested we investigate the city or town we are in and usually one of us will write.”
Jill’s influences are a combination of the famous and the unknown, including: “…all my wonderful artist friends out there on the road, living out their dreams. People who are unafraid of being authentic. Janis Joplin, The Judds, Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons, and Kris Kristofferson…” The list continues…“I am in love with music. I have a huge respect for my peers.”
Jill’s focus is a perfect balance of writing and performing. “My process really is non-stop…I write about everything. I find there’s nothing more powerful than performing original music. For me, writing specifies the message and the performance allows me to deliver it to the masses…they go hand in hand.” Jill found her way to becoming what she refers to as an authentic artist. “You cannot buy the knowledge this town has taught me over the years. I have learned that when I speak and sing my truth in songs, it really hits home with the listener. Knowing how to stand tall in the music that I make is a great achievement for me.”
Jill sees the Nashville female musician as unique when they share personal artistry. “I love originality. I love to lose myself in the song. If their work is authentic and true to their journey, then I usually eat that up. Goose bumps or tears.”
“I believe women, as well as music of substance, are finally being celebrated again. There are so many new and old artists out there paving the way for future generations. I believe we are now affirming ourselves and are more aware of our personal power as intuitive writers. We live in a powerful time.” Jill elaborates to clarify her point. “We can better help and encourage women in music by allowing them to grow older. We need to know that at 30 women and men are just starting to understand themselves and what they have to offer humanity through their creative works. We need to embrace all ages… We live in a futuristic time that should allow all to shine. There is a huge market for what is currently taking place in music history. The pendulum has swung and we will be seeing a rise in road warriors, older artist, and many more getting their [due] credit.”
The Nashville 7:
The final questions posed to Jill (inspired by James Lipton’s approach to interviewing for Inside The Actor’s Studio.)
1 In one Word describe Nashville: “Evolving.”
2 Your favorite food experience in Nashville: “Fresh”
3 One word that describes your music style: “Multi – dimensional”
4 Who is the one person you want to meet in Nashville: “Sharon Corbitt House.”
5 If you could ask (him/her) one question what would that question be: “Journey.” When pressed to venture outside the one word format, Jill explains… “I’m aware of her because we are friends on FaceBook – I don’t know how, but we are. She inspired me by her values. She appreciates history and gives people credit. She believes in mentorship. looking for mentor…” Jill laughs. “I think I would wear her out – she’d probably have to lie down after meeting with me!”
6 What is your favorite Nashville venue: “All.”
7 Your favorite lyric from a song you wrote: “My song Slow Train… “Hope makes a sound like thunder…”
In Jill’s world everyone should have a turn and she is spreading the word. The intention of her new album is “…to heal, make people laugh and just enjoy their day!” The joy of Just Jill will move the hearts of music lovers country wide. After all it is road tested and ready to rock!
Jill will be touring for the next few months. She can be seen at The Rhythm and Trade in Greer South Carolina and shows in the state of Texas. Check back for upcoming Nashville dates in the future.
*Wayne Mills was a highly respected and supported member of the Nashville music community. A talent country artist shot by a local bar owner in 2013. LHTMS honors his legacy through their efforts. (Check out the Last Honky Tonk Music Series at www.lasthonkytonk.org for more information about our mission. Also check out Wayne Mills legacy at www.waynemillsband.com)
Women of Music Music of Women is an alliance for women in the music industry to network, support, promote, and recognize the many talented women in the industry by bringing them together with all aspects to include artists, attorneys, agents, managers, artist development, label execs, publishers, media, songwriters, past present and future talent to discuss and address the issues that concern women in the industry.
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*The material included in this article is the sole property of the writer, (Katharine W. Poole,) and the photographer and President/Founder of WMMW, (Cilene Bosch.) All elements may be used in other publications as determined by the owners. Permission must be obtained for reproduction.