If you like country music, I highly suggest checking out Jessica Harp. She is most famous for partnering with Michelle Branch in the duo The Wreckers, but she's now venturing out on her own and her solo album "A Woman Needs" debuts this September.
I got a chance to chat with Jessica about her upcoming album and being a step-mom to 2 1/2 year old Stella.
What was your inspiration for this solo album?
My inspiration was basically going back to me being a kid, wanting to grow up and make a solo country record. My main goal was to make a record that women could relate to and that men could maybe learn something about women from. I always want to make a record that people can listen to from top to bottom without wanting to skip through songs. There's defintely a lot of material that people can relate to and that's the most important thing. The most rewarding part of my job is playing in shows and watching people in the audience sing along to my songs that I wrote and know that they relate to that and it means something to them.
Where do you come up with ideas for your songs?
Inspiration comes from random places these days. In the past, my songs were always very autobiographical, some still very much are, but now that I'm married and happy and still love to write sad songs, I have to draw on relationships from the past or from people around me and what they're going through.
Which songs on the album have the most meaning for you?
One is a song called "Love Letter," which, hearing the title, you would think it was about a relationship but it's actually about my family. I've been doing this for so long and I travel so much and my schedule is so hectic but I'm very close to my parents and sister, and it's sort of a dedication to them for putting up with my schedule and still making time to see me. Also, "A Woman Needs" is special to me because it's about a woman finding her place in the world and taking the time to take a few different paths until she finds the place where she's truly happy and at peace, and I can certainly relate to that in my life so that's special to me.
How do you balance family and your career?
Actually, fairly easy. My husband is in my band so we don't have to spend a lot of time apart, and as for my step-daughter, who we get every month, we just fly to get her or if we are touring, she just comes right along and loves it.
How has becoming a step-mom changed your daily life?
I've always wanted to be a mom and that's something that is far more important to me than a music career. Ultimately, it's about having a family, and Stella has made having a family a reality. Getting to try out the whole "having a crazy career and a family all at the same time" has been really good in that I can see it can absolutely be done. Having her around has made me get the itch to have children.
Does Stella like to perform or sing?
She's starting to sing a lot. She's sort of my number one fan. She saw my video for the first time and sort of freaked out. Now she either wants to watch Dora or wants to watch Jess on TV. So the fact that I'm ranked right up there with Dora, that means a lot!
What would you like your fans to take away from your album?
I would just like it to be something that they can relate to. Something they can either put on to just chill out to or when they're in a fun mood because there are a lot of fun, upbeat tracks on the record. And hopefully songs on there inspire them in different ways, be it being independent and on their own or being in a relationship that's possibly reached its end, or being in love.
You can listen to Jessica's first single from the album "Boy Like Me" on her website, Jessica Harp, (and yes, that's Keith Urban playing the guitar for that song). Trust me, it's really good, I've been jamming to it all morning! Also, if you're in the New York City area, she's playing live at Joe's Pub on July 7th, I know I'll be there!
Are you a country music fan? Who's your favorite country singer?