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INTERVIEW: Jean Kelley

Hi Jean, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey! I’ve been excellent and super busy. It’s a very exciting time.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Stacking Stones”…did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I was inspired by my own experiences of learning to accept the role I played in the undesirable outcomes of my life and the struggle to create a more empowered version of myself that could choose another way of being. Like most people, I had a lot ghosts in my past that I had to face and fight to come out the other side. I’m inspired to empower others to do the same.

Any plans to release a video for the single? 

Yes! We are so excited to be releasing the Official Stacking Stones music video later this month. I had the pleasure of collaborating with the incredible video team at Resolve Media Group here in Atlanta and the result is EPIC!

Why name the album after this track in particular? 

To me, the words Stacking Stones are symbolic of a way I was living. For much of my life, I “stacked stones”, just to stack more stones, always stacking them the same way, unable to see that who I was being and how I was being made all of my efforts an act of futility. The results were always going to be the same until I was willing and able to change. It’s easy to blame others and circumstance for why our lives look they way they do, but that’s not a life worthy of what’s in our hearts. From now on, the stones I stack will be determined by my belief in what is possible, and not by what I’m afraid of.

How was the recording and writing process?

The Stacking Stones single was a work in progress for a few years. I started writing it in 2013, struggled to get the concept to flesh out beyond the verses, slowly adding to it over the next two years. The hook was the last piece of the puzzle and in early 2015, shortly after returning home from The Voice, I linked up with my talented friend and fellow songwriter, JL Rodriguez, to give the song it’s hopeful and determined chorus. From there, I worked with my band for several months, crafting the right sound and vibe to bring the song to life. When it was ready, I shared the song with the team at Bravo Ocean Studios and began recording the single you hear today. Between all of that, I ran a wildly aggressive, all or nothing, month-long fundraising campaign to cover all recording and marketing costs for the EP. The road here was long, frustrating, emotional, magical and totally worth it.

What role does Nashville plays in your music?

Growing up in Nashville exposed me to a lot of rootsy, rhythmic, soulful music and arguably some of the best songwriting in the world. I don’t think I even realized how much influence Nashville played in my personal style until I got into the production phase of the Stacking Stones single. In my head I heard heavy, driving kick and floor toms on the backbeat with handclaps and a choir of ominous vocals. In essence, a Revival. It’s that kind of undeniable, organic rhythm that makes you move without meaning to. That’s the part of Nashville that is in me.

What did you learn from tenure time on The Voice?

My time on The Voice challenged me to truly hear and trust my gut. 14 Million people watching and music idols for coaches; the pressure was on. The biggest challenge in a competition like this isn’t the competition itself. It’s the fight to find yourself while being pulled in every direction. I may not have won the show, but I did have a personal victory over a life time of self doubt and comparison and THAT allowed me to write and record a debut EP that is honest and vulnerable and unapologetic.

What aspects of tragedy and loss did you get to explore on this album?

On it’s surface, the Stacking Stones EP explores turning points in relationships: with lovers, society, and oneself. On a deeper level, it is about allowing our tragedies and loss to shape us, but not define us and how ultimately, we get to decide who we get to be in this life. My songs certainly have their raw, vulnerable moments, but the overall theme of the EP is one of Boldness and Hope.

Any plans to hit the road?

Absolutely. Right now we are doing small local shows in preparation for the release of the full Stacking Stones EP. After that, we are excited to start touring!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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